I know its been several days since the Family Winemaker’s public tasting event, so I apologize for not having my summary posted in a more timely manner. Believe it or not, one can actually be pretty busy when you’re unemployed.
I tasted a lot of wines and had a lot fun chatting with proprietors, winemakers and sales managers alike. The event was great and considering the size of the tasting, was very well organized. The only negative aspect of the tasting was that I wasn’t able to taste everything there. I know it was an impossibility, but I always go into these events with the hopes of covering everything. My goal is to always try more new wineries than ones that I’m already familiar with, but its always tough when you walk by the familiar booths and feel the pull to revisit the wines you already know, so I definitely spent some time re-tasting some perennial favorites.
Here are most of the wineries whose wines I tasted and enjoyed. I tried to keep good notes and keep everything in order, but its tough when you’re trying to juggle a clipboard, event guide, glass, pen and spit cup. Somehow I managed, with the help of my lovely assistant of course.
Amapola Creek – Nice zinfandel and an even better cabernet sauvignon from the Sonoma County area. The winery was started by Richard Arrowood, whose namesake winery was sold several years ago. I guess Richard is getting back to his roots, so to speak.
Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards – They only had one wine to show that day, the diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was one of the best cabernet sauvignons of the tasting that day.
Carlisle Winery & Vineyards – To me, one of the best California syrah and zinfandel producers making wine today. Tremendous value when it comes to wiens that are absolutely delicious and age-worthy at the same time.
Cavus – A new winery of which I’ve never heard of. They had a red blend from the Stag’s Leap district that was big, robust and earthy. Just found out that dave Phinney of Orin Swift is the winemaker.
Enkidu Wines – Really cool wines. They do an excellent sauvignon blanc, and some solid syrah and Cal-Rhone blends. Great people too. Winemaker Phillip Staehle was a nice guy and actually the only winery and person I spoke with, who “got” and understood the wine blog concept.
Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery – Very pleasant chardonnays and pinot noirs. They also produce a pinotage which is pretty rare around here.
Fritz Winery – really, just some enjoyable and easy to like wines. Their reserve line, which I believe is only available to winery mailing list customers, were very good wines; especially the Russian River Reserve Chardonnay. Owner Clayton Fritz was a pleasure to chat with.
Hendry Wines – Probably our favorite winery of the tasting that day. Sales and Marketing Manager Susan Ridley was wonderful and patient with the pouring duties. Well-made, classy wines. I’m usually a little skeptical when a winery produces too many varietals, but these guys do a good job across the board.
Hollywood & Vine – They only make two wines, a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon from Napa, but they’re absolutely delicious! Get this, the chard comes from Atlas Peak! Mountain chardonnay fruit from Napa!
Judd’s Hill – Sales manager Devin Joshua represents the wines here. Great guy and solid wines from the family that originally started Whitehall Lane in Napa.
L’Angevin/Peirson Meyer – Outstanding pinot noirs and even better chardonnays.
Larkmead Vineyards – A perennial favorite of mine. Great value in the Firebelle and always wonderfully textured cabernet sauvignons.
Lawrence Harrison – Micro-production, low-alcohol, bordeaux styled reds. Very friendly, welcoming and gracious family.
Lone Madrone – Personal label of Tablas Creek winemaker Neil Collins. Specializing in red and white Rhone varietals. My favorite was the tannat.
Longboard Vineyards – Nice pinots, sauv blancs and syrah from the Russian River Valley.
Lynmar – Outstanding pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah from the the Russian River Valley. Their single vineyard estate Quail Hill bottlings are always well-done.
Martin Alfaro – Single vineyard pinot noirs and chardonnay from select sites up and down the California coast. Winemaker Joseph Matin does a great job across the board.
Praxis – A little bit of everything from viognier to pinot noir, and even an intriguing lagrein.
Robert Foley Vineyards – Finally got a chance to to sample their claret. Expensive, but a damn fine wine. Charbono was interesting as well and the petite sirah was solid.
Sensorium Wines – Winemaker and owner Jeff Ritchey does a nice job of showcasing the potential of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Nice wines and an excellent Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon.
T-Vine Cellars – These are some intense wines. Great zinfandels , petite sirah and grenache.
TR Elliott – This was a “sleeper” for us. I never heard of this winery’s wines and I’m glad I discovered them. Outstanding pinot noirs. I believe those who enjoy Burgundy will thoroughly appreciate the wines from T.R. Elliott. The Burgonet Russian River Pinot Noir was one of the best wines I tasted that day.
Titus Vineyards – One of my favorite wineries in Napa. I’ve haven’t visited the winery yet, but their wines are always delicious. I love their petite sirah, year in, year out. Awesome cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc as well.
Another interesting thing of note; I experienced at the tasting were the reactions to my saying that I was here as a wine blogger. “Oh, wine blog? ooooh, o.k.” It seemed like many people were either perplexed, disinterested and even skeptical about my presence and mission, and you know what? It’s o.k. I understand completely. It was definitely something I was a little worried about as far as the perception of me as a legitimate trade member. I’ll be writing a post on my reactions to these reactions in a few days, as it is a phenomenon I’ve been trying to understand myself.