Join us on our exploration of Wine from across the Oregon Wine Region. Interviews with winemakers. Wine Festivals. Explore the AVA’s and discover the Terrior, The stories, The Wine, all across Oregon Wine Country beginning in the Willamette Valley. Follow us at Crushedgrapechronicles.com for your Oregon Wine Adventure.
We got in a van not knowing how long the drive might be. I suppose I could have looked at a map, but I’m not sure that would have helped. We actually ended up in Oregon. Walla Walla AVA is a border AVA with part of the AVA in Washington and part in Oregon.
We were headed to Cadaretta’s Glasshouse on their Southwind Vineyard for dinner. We arrived as the sun was setting to amazing views. We were greeted with a glass of wine and trays of passed hors d’oeuvres. The food and wine were lovely, but that view…
The name comes from the name of the schooner that carried the Anderson & Middleton lumber products to market in the early 20th century. The family has a history in Washington having been in lumber on the coast since 1898. That’s 120 years in business in WA this year, which is no small feat. The timber company was based on the coast in Aberdeen WA (of Nirvana fame).
Getting into Grapes
Issues came up with the decline of old growth and the family, always looking to preserve the land, closed their mill. In the 70’s issues with the spotted owl came up and many companies went out of business. The family bought property in California’s central valley and started growing table grapes. This led them to Paso Robles where they have been growers of wine grapes at their Red Cedar Vineyard for 30 years.
They started Clayhouse wines in Paso Robles. Their roots were in Washington though, and they returned to purchase this piece of property in the Walla Walla AVA.
Back to the ship
The Cadaretta carried lumber to San Francisco and LA. Kris’ father used to ride on the ship as a kid on it’s journeys. During WWII the ship was requisitioned by the Government. Family lore tell the tale that on the final trip as the Cadaretta the ship was followed down the coast by a Japanese submarine. The ship was later renamed Southwind, which is where this particular vineyard derives its name.
This vineyard sits just west of Milton-Freewater on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla AVA. L’Ecole, Doubleback and Sleight of Hand also have vineyards nearby. The view and the company are impressive, but what makes this place special for wine is the soil.
Soil at Southwind Vineyard
Most of the soil in the surrounding area is loess (blown dust) from the Columbia and Missoula Floods and you find that in the soils on the Northern slope. Those are the relatively young 15 million year old soils. On the South slope you find fractured basalt soils. These are ancient soils. They were just behind the tent we were sitting in. You find them only on steep hillsides above 1250.
When they bought the property they spent 2 years digging test plots. After soil analysis they planted 1 acre test plots. Digging into the basalt is difficult, time consuming and expensive. The vines have to work harder and dig deeper, but the characteristic they were getting in the wines from this soil made it worth it.
They have been working on this for 8 years and only 2 years ago release the first of the Southwind wines. Kris said that as a timber family they have a saying…
“It takes 40 years to grow a tree, we have patience.”
They wanted to get it right. They find Syrah and Malbec do best in this soil. There are few other vineyard grown in fractured basalt. These Southwind wines are pretty rare also with just 50 cases of each released.
Sustainability is common sense
The family comes from timber and it was always just common sense to take care of the land. It’s no different with the vineyard. Being salmon safe and sustainable isn’t something they advertise, they just do it. They have falconers from Paso that they used in the vineyard there who come in to help keep the vermin down, as well as owl boxes on the property. They use arugula for cover crop and have a bee keeper who comes in with the bees. It just makes sense to be sustainable.
With that idea in mind, they also didn’t see the need for a big showy winery. Instead they worked with Norm McKibben and JF Pellet and created Artifex in Walla Walla which is a custom crush facility for small lot, high end wines. The name comes from a Latin term meaning “Made skillfully” and it is a state of the art facility. The facility houses multiple wineries and they are customers to themselves.
So they had determined that they didn’t need an extravagant tasting room, but her brother still wanted a place to entertain. The view here from the vineyard was stunning and he wanted to create a place to enjoy that view. He had seen a building at the Santa Rosa Airport and honed in on the idea of a glass house with garage doors to open to the view. The timber is recycled, of course. To keep this a “special” place they limit it to just a few events. We were lucky to be one of those few events.
Over the course of the evening, Kris spoke to us between courses and we enjoyed dinner from Olive Catering in Walla Walla to compliment the wines.
The 2014 Cadaretta, Windthrow
This wine was paired with Wild Canadian Arctic Char with Yukon potato emulsion, chanterelle mushrooms and plum relish.
The Windthrow is a Columbia Valley Rhone Style Blend (76% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 9% Grenache) sourced from Stonetree, Southwind and Monetta’s Vineyards. Aged 22 month in 50% Hungarian Oak, 40% New French Oak and 10% Neutral French Oak. Unfined they made just 259 cases.
The 2015 Cadaretta, Southwind Malbec
Paired with maple braised lamb shank with black truffle risotto, foraged mushrooms and dates.
The Southwind Malbec is a Walla Walla Valley wine specifically from the Southwind Vineyard. 2015 was a warm vintage with an early bud break. This was a wine that opened in the glass.
The 2014 Cadaretta, Springboard
Our dessert pairing of petite fours & truffles.
The Springboard is a Columbia Valley wine and is a Bordeaux style blend of 81% Cab Sav, 10% Malbec and 9% Petit Verdot sourced from Obelisco, Southwind, Red Mountain and Alder Ridge Vineyards. It is aged in 60% new french oak with the remainder in more neutral oak. Only 249 cases of this wine were made.
The evening was beautiful, the hosting was warm and the wines were truly stunning. Getting to speak with Kris and being so warmly welcomed to the place that is so special to their family was a wonderful experience.
You can taste them at their tasting room in Downtown Walla Walla at 315 E. Main Street Thursday through Sunday. Visit there website here for details.
Today I will get up for sunrise over Lake Tahoe. Ok maybe not, was ahead of the rain yesterday not. Today.
Leaving Lake Tahoe.
Had a spot of sun near Rogue river.
Made it to Salem OR, at around 730pm. Quick nap and wait, text from Alaska Air your flight has been cancelled and re-routed.
Called the agent, the original flight was from portland to seattle, then seattle to tri cities. The tri cities was cancelled. so they rerouted me direct from Portland to Tricities at 10:15 to 11:00 am. My original flight was at 6am. Yeah for me.
Robin had to be Redirected to Portland,(she was flying to Seattle to connect to same flight.)
So I’m at the Portland Airport Now.
They were amazing with the fix.
Will see if Robin makes it?
#wbc18 here we are.
Stay Tuned to see If Robin makes it Here?
We are headed to Walla Walla, Washington to attend this years Wine Bloggers Conference. I am going to drive up, stop and take some pictures and video with a small drone and some new cameras. I hope to get some footage of some great landmarks along the way. I plan to take the scenic tour, starting by heading north on 95 until 374 south and 190W through Death Valley, up the California US 395 past Mt Whitney, Kings Canyon National Park, Mammoth Lake, Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake, on the way to Lake Tahoe, for the night.
We just bought a new Kia Niro Electric Plugin Hybrid named “Nuit” pronounced (new-ee). It runs on 24 miles of electric power, and charges via a port or braking power, so we will see how the hills and down hills charge the battery. The first day we will see how gas mileage works, as there will probably not be any charging stations along this route.
I will be playing with a Video Blog diary, with short snippets to chronicle my trip. Robin flies out Wednesday and I will pickup a plane in Portland, to fly into PSC Tri cities Airport. There we will start our wine excursion to Yakima Valley Wine.
I plan to video blog my way up and back, then we will put together several videos, including a full featured video of Walla Walla and our stops along the way, along with Adventures with Nuit, and many more.
We also have a number of new camera’s for this trip and will be playing with all of the modes. We got new Samsung S9 which has slow motion, hyperlapse, and emoji mode. So I will be recording some snippets with my New Emoji for small previews along the way. Let us know how this works.
After several jam packed days of Wine education, we have a post conference excursion to Maryhill Winery and Cathedral Ridge and we end up in Portland.
That night we spend in Portland. We plan to drive down the West coast pick up some Ocean views on the way to Grants Pass where we have a Yurt booked.
The next day we plan to explore a little bit of Applegate AVA and Rogue Valley, then make our way back to Vegas.
So follow along with a couple of travel Posts, and then some teasers from the Wine Bloggers Conference, then a deluge of content starting mid October thru the end of the Year.
Maryhill Winery hit my radar as we planned to head north for WBC18, which was to be held in Walla Walla. We had looked at the pre and post tour offerings and settled on a post conference tour to the Columbia Gorge area. Maryhill was to be our first stop. Amie and Cassie of Maryhill reached out to me in advance and I was able to meet and speak with them briefly at the conference. I saw the photos and tasted some of the wines, but I was not prepared for the view.
Maryhill is in the tiny town of Goldendale, Washington and sits on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. The views are spectacular. The winery is relatively young having started in 2001.
The name Maryhill
The name “Maryhill” comes from the museum that is on the site. If you are on the Columbia Gorge and see any of the history, you will hear the name Sam Hill. This millionaire attourney made the creation of roads in this part of the country his goal. He is recorded as saying “Good roads are more than my hobby; they are my religion” (from historylink.org)
Sam Hill was a philanthopist and in honor of his wife Mary, created the Maryhill Museum which houses a world-class art collection. This museum is set overlooking the Gorge about 100 miles from Portland.
When Craig and Vicki Leuthold looked to create their winery, this site spoke to them. They approached the Museum about building a winery on the property. While that didn’t go through, they met the Gunkel family who had a vineyard a permit to build a winery just 1 mile west of the museum, and were able to build their winery there. (Wine Press Northwest Spring 2015)
This is a winery. While you will find vineyards surrounding it, these vineyards are not owned by the winery. This is the Gunkel Family Vineyards which have been farmed by the Gunkel family for three generations. As the vineyard is on site, and they work very closely with the Gunkel family, they refer to it as their “estate” vineyard.
The Wines of Maryhill
The goal here is to showcase all the different regions within Washington and the wide variety of grapes. They source from multiple AVAs and areas including Horse Heaven Hills AVA, lower Yakima Valley, Columbia Gorge AVA, Elephant Mountain in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, Red Mountain AVA and the Walla Walla Valley. They strive to create affordable and approachable wines. We were visiting on a wine club pickup day and watched people exiting with hand trucks stacked with cases.
Maryhill Winery is one of Washington state’s largest wineries producing 80,000 cases annually. We partner with 12 growers and 23 unique vineyard locations in eight of Washington State’s 14 major American Viticultural Areas, making our family-owned winery a true representation of Washington’s winemaking prowess.
We invite you to visit one or both of our Washington state tasting rooms to sample additional varieties, enjoy stunning views and meet the people behind our award-winning wines. Maryhill’s winery and premier tasting room in Goldendale, Washington is located at the edge of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area just 90 minutes east of Portland. A true destination winery, we offer an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River, outdoor seating and live music (Memorial Day through September).
Source Maryhill Winery
It is worth the drive for the spectacular views that can be enjoyed with a glass of wine in hand. Make a day of it and see some of the art at the Maryhill Museum just down the road.
MARYHILL WINERY &
9774 HWY 14
GOLDENDALE, WA 98620
Check back with us here. We will have more on our visit to Maryhill which took place during the end of harvest. We were lucky enough to taste tank samples and see the entire facility.
We’ve all heard of Malbec. First thought that popped in your head? Big bold Argentinian Malbec. Right? This month with the French Winophiles we are exploring Cahors, France the original home of Malbec.
History of Cahors
This region sits in the south west of France about 100 miles east of Bordeaux in the Midi-Pyranees and is divided by the Lot river that does a half a dozen or more “S” curves through the area. The original home of Malbec, here it is often known as Côt or Auxerrois. First planted by the Romans, the Englishmen named the wine from this area “The Black Wine of Cahors”. It is said that if you can see your fingers through the glass, it’s not from Cahors. At one time widely known throughout the wine world, the 100 years war and later phylloxera dampened it’s growth.
Cahors is also the name of the city at the eastern end of the area that sits on the last of those hairpin turns of the river Lot. The Pont Valentré has become the symbol of the town. It is a 14th-century stone arch bridge crossing the Lot River on the west side of Cahors.
The AOC and the wine region
The AOC was founded in 1971 and produces only red wine. The terroirs here are divided into the Vallée – the valley that runs near the river; the Coteaux – the terraces up the sides of the cliffs and the Plateau, which sits at around 980 feet and has limestone soils. The wines of the Vallée and Coteaux tend to be more fruit forward, where as the wines from the Plateau have a bit more finesse due to the wide diurnal shifts (day to night temps) which make for slower ripening and a later harvest.
Countryside and local cuisine
The country side here is out of a storybook with villages perfect for biking, boating on the river and hot air ballooning. It is also home to many Michelin starred chefs, due in no small part to the abundance of truffles in the region. The annual truffle festival early each year brings people from far and near to bid on truffles from vendors walking the street. The region is also noted for chestnuts, wild mushrooms, foie gras, goose, duck and walnuts. All of these things play beautifully with the local wine.
While I was doing that fabulous Grower Champagne tasting last month at Valley Cheese and Wine, I was thinking about this month and our Cahors tasting. So…before I left, I picked up a bottle of Cahors and a cheese that Kristin suggested to pair with it. We later picked up two other wines to compare, of the 3 we ended up with 3 different vintages.
Château du Cèdre – Cèdre Heritage 2014
This wine is 95% Malbec and 5% Merlot
This family estate is run by Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe. They have 27 hectares of vienyards growing 90% Malbec with 5% each of Merlot and Tannat. They do have a little bit of white grapes growning with a hectare of Viognier and then a little bit of Sémillon, Muscadelle and Savignon Blanc. Vines here are between 10 and 60 years old.
Verhaeghe might not sound French to you. Well that would be because the name is Flemish. Charles Verhaeghe started a farm in the area in 1958. His father Léon had left Flanders for south west France in the early 20th century. They planted some vines and added to the plots each year. Charles bottled his first wine in 1973. His sons Jean-Marc and Pascal now run the estate.
The vineyard was certified Organic in 2012. The vineyard is divided into three parts. The largest section sits on lime stone soils, it has a southwest orientation and produces wines with very fine tannins. The other 2 plots face south. The soil here is red sands and pebbles with clay below. These wines have a bit more power.
Maison Georges Vigouroux
This Maison spans four generations since 1887 with Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux now at the helm as winemaker. In 1971 they replanted Haute-Serre, the first vineyard replanted in Cahors after the phylloxera. They increased the density of planting to reduce the yield and stress those grapes. They find that this increases the delicacy of their wines. They now own around 150 hectares of vineyards and are considered to be the premiere producers of Malbec in the region. They have 4 wineries and produce a variety of styles of Malbec.
Wine/Agro-tourism is also a focus for Georges Vigouroux. They have “La Table de Haute-Serre” a restaurant at the Château de Haute-Serre winery and are devoted to promoting the local products that enhance and pair perfectly with the wine. They do tours, workshops and cooking classes. The Château de Mercuès is a luxury Winery Hotel in Occitanie that immerses it’s guests in a high end wine country experience.
We found 2 wines locally from this producer:
Antisto Cahors 2013
This wine from Georges Vigouroux is 100% Malbec and comes from slope vineyards in Cahors (that would be the Coteaux vineyards we spoke of above). These are clay-limestone or gravel and silt on terraces overlooking the Lot Valley. They list the winemaking method as short maceration and long fermentation. This wine can age for 5-8 years.
They also do an Antisto Mendoza, the idea is to have the ability to compare Malbec from France and Argentina, done in the style of the region.
Atrium Malbec Cahors 2016
Another wine from Maison Georges Vigouroux. Their website speaks of the name of this wine in this way
“Place of convergence in the Roman house, the atrium is also the centerpiece of castles, the forecourt of cathedrals … Another theory also suggests that the word atrium is derived from the adjective “ater”, which means “black”: a a haven of choice for Malbec.”
The grapes for this wine are again grown on hillsides. It is a Cuvée from multiple vineyards and is aged on oak for 6 months. This wine is a blend, of the region’s 3 main varieties, Malbec, Merlot and Tannat.
The Atrium name is also the overall name for the group of boutique wineries that highlight the wines from Southwest France. They continue this local focus with wine/agro-tourism, promoting local products that pair perfectly with their wines.
Tasting and Pairing
When I picked up the bottle of Cèdre Heritage at Valley Cheese and Wine, I asked Kristen for a recommendation for a good cheese to pair. She set me up with a raw cows milk cheese from Sequatchie Cove Creamery http://www.sequatchiecovecheese.com/
in Tennesee called Coppinger http://www.sequatchiecovecheese.com/index/#/candice-whitman/
This is a semi-soft washed rind cheese with a layer of decorative vegetable ash down the center. This cheese is not a flavor bomb, rather it is comfortable, like the quiet but really interesting person sitting by the window.
In addition we picked up bleu cheese (gorgonzola), some prosciutto, sliced strawberries, fig jam, raw honey and walnuts.
For dinner we paired beef barbeque, herbed potatoes and a salad.
The wines spanned a few years and we tasted them youngest to oldest.
The 2016 Atrium had black plum and tobacco and unsurprisingly, as it was the youngest, seemed the brightest. I really enjoyed this with the gorgonzola.
The 2014 Cèdre Heritage gave black cherry and ground cinnamon. It had tart acid and opened up to give off more leather and barnyard.
The 2013 Antisto felt like the most complex on the nose with leather, black plum, fresh eucalyptus leaves. It was a little less complex on the palate, but I had a hint of black olive that appeared later as it opened. This went beautifully with the fig jam.
I will admit that all of these wines were purchased for under $20. I enjoyed them, but didn’t have my socks blown off. They all disappated fairly quickly on my palate. I look forward to locating and exploring more wines from Cahors and noting the differences in wine styles and vineyard locations. Perhaps a Malbec comparison with French and Argentinian wines is in order!
I look forward to hearing about the other Malbecs my fellow French #Winophiles tried, as well as their pairings and finding more wines from this region to search for!
The French #Winophiles
This group of writers monthly take up a French wine or region to taste, pair and discuss! If you want to join us for the discussion, it will happen on Twitter on Saturday September 15th at 8 am Pacific Time, 11 am Eastern Standard Time. Just jump on and follow #Winophiles!
Here are the other great pieces on Cahors!
Rupal from Journeys Of A Syrah Queen inspires and delights with Crocus Wines – Exploring Cahors With Paul Hobbs
Break open a bottle of French Malbec and enjoy a selection of great reads!
I’ve started this post at least 3 times. How to sum up a year? My tendency is to go analytical and spin out the year chronologically. But remembering a year doesn’t really work that way. Even scanning through my Instagram feed, I found my mind drifting, one memory taking me to another, rarely chronologically and I would swipe from one end of my feed to the other as the thoughts took me. The visuals, the photos, were the things that drew me in, so that is what I want to share with you.
A Year of #_______Strong and of people coming together
2017…It’s been a year. It was the year of #(currentdisasterousevent)strong. There were so many, it was overwhelming at times. These events, that used to happen in some far away place, to people we didn’t know, suddenly, as we become a global community, have become things happening to people we know in places we have often seen. I had friends in Florida, Houston, in Sonoma, in New York City, in the Dominican Republic. And then of course there was Vegas. That’s home, and while I was not on the strip that night, many people that I work with daily and care for deeply, were. It was a year of stress and struggles, but also a year of people coming together. These events reminded us what is important, they caused us to be in touch with people who are dear to us and let them know they are dear to us.
Nature and home
As I sifted through the photos from this year, the ones I found the most moving, were those I took on our family farm early this spring. No, they have nothing to do with wine, but returning to this place during some torrential spring rains, brought some perspective to the year. The day was wet and rainy, but it only drizzled a bit while we were there. We watched the creek rush overflowing it’s banks, and trudged from the ridge to the meadow and were soaked to the bone by the the dripping trees and wet underbrush by the time we left, but bits of astounding beauty were everywhere.
Friends and Wine in Virginia
While we were on the East Coast we were able to catch up with friends and spent a weekend with my best friend and another friend from college as well as their husbands and did a bit of exploring of Virginia Wine Country. A few years ago, we did a girls weekend in Virginia wine country and this was a great opportunity to do Wine Country II, Electric Boogaloo tour with the boys.
I did a bit of research on the history of Virginia Wine Country before we traveled, and we tried to take in a few different areas starting at Chrysalis and Stone Tower in Northern Virginia. Chrysalis Vineyards is the Champion of the Norton Grape, a grape native to North America and have their tasting room at the Ag District Center. The Winery is the vision of Jennifer McCloud who started Chrysalis in the late 1990’s. This is a from scratch business. In Todd Kliman’s book “The Wild Vine – A forgotten grape and the untold story of American Wine” he talks about meeting Jennifer at the Vineyards and riding out with her in her pickup to see the vines. She is the heart and soul of this winery.
Stone Tower Vineyards, is something completely different. You drive up Hogsback Mountain to find an impressive Estate with a “stone tower” hence the name. Part of the property had been in the family for 40 years and in 2005 they added to the property when a neighboring farm was available. Many of their vines are still too young to yield fruit, so their winemaker brings in juice from California for some of their wines, which are labeled under “Wild Boar Cellars”. Regardless, the wines were all beautifully made and the Estate wines made from grapes grown on site are really exquisite. The tasting room at the vineyard in Loudoun County is expansive and beautiful and as such is overflowing with wine tasters from the DC area on the weekends, so go early!
We ventured south from here to meet my dearest friend at Barboursville Vineyards in Central Virginia. This Vineyard is on a historic estate between Monticello and Montpelier. On the property lies the remnants of the home designed for James Barbour by Thomas Jefferson. In 1976 the Zonin Family, who command a portfolio of 9 wineries in 7 regions of Italy, acquired the property.
We then headed to Charlottesville (this was early in the year, before they needed a #CharlottesvilleStong). We had a great dinner on the Historic Downtown Mall and then planned our morning trip to Monticello.
Jefferson wanted so desperately to grow grapes and make his own wine. He was a renaissance man and as such tended to get wrapped up in some things to the detriment of others. The property is beautiful, the house unique and quirky, with it’s wine elevator among other things and the gardens are lovely, if filled with non native species. The vineyards speak to the longing to make his own wine and on this spring day, in the mist, they seemed to echo this.
We had lunch at the historic Michie Tavern and visited a few other wineries, a standout being Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews.
How much California Wine Country can you see in 6 days?
August took us on a Flash Tour of the California Coast and it’s wine regions. We spent 6 Days traveling the coast hitting Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey, Napa, Sonoma, the Livermore Valley, and Santa Cruz. You can check out our travels here. The trip was amazing, here are some visual highlights.
Those are the big highlights, but we were busy all year.
At the beginning of the year I did a tasting of Natural Wines with Matthieu at the farmers market.
We did a Superbowl Wine Party How to pair with Everything! And we did pair with everything!
In April we did a Virtual trip to the McLaren Vale in Australia with our friend Dean being our Wine Reporter at Large
We found ourselves back in Santa Barbara again in October and spent time in Lompoc in the Wine Ghetto, Solvang and downtown Santa Barbara.
Onward to 2018
And what about 2018? I love the New Year. It always feels like a clean slate. Will there be good wine and some wine travel? Yes! Adventures and meeting new people and sharing their stories is what we are all about, and we get better at this all the time. Plans are in the works for this year, but who knows where the wind may blow us. I look forward to more spontaneous trips this year.
And I have been inspired seeing people post their “power words” for the new year. Mine…”Exploration”. I love research and if I want to be more spontaneous this year, it actually probably means chasing tangents down the research rabbit hole, and I’m okay with that! I do have a few things on my list. Expect to see more on French wines and wine regions this year. Between trips to wine regions, we will be taking some virtual trips to France and digging in deeper to it’s wine regions. There is a reason that when people think of wine, they first think of French wine. I am also anxious to search out more “natural wines”. I know, I know, it’s a really open term, but I love pét-nat and I want to explore deeper into this movement and I’m anxious to see how this category of wines develops and evolves. And then of course there will be the tangents. I always start the year with plans, and I will be sitting down soon to create my list for 2018. By the end of 2018 I am sure that I will have happily strayed from it.
Happy New Year! I’m off to make my exploration planning list. I should probably pour a glass of wine as I head down the rabbit hole.
We visited Lompoc. It was a Thursday…so limited wine tasting rooms were open, but it gave us a chance to do a few tastings and scope out tasting rooms we would like to return to. But perhaps you have never heard of Lompoc? Let me bring you up to speed.
Lompoc is located on the Central Coast of California in Santa Barbara County. From a wine perspective, it is the area just west of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The Chumash Indians were the first known settlers here and enjoyed relative peace and quiet for what is thought to be 10,000 years until the first European Settlement was built in 1787 with the La Purisima Mission. The original mission was destroyed in 1812 by an earthquake and was rebuilt several years after at another site. The mission is now a state park and is host to the Wine and Fire Event held annually by the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance. the name Lompoc comes from the Chumash Indian word “Lum Poc” for “Lagoon” (or for stagnant waters, but lagoon sounds better).
The city of Lompoc was Incorporated in 1888 and many wharves were built for incoming supplies to the coast. At the turn of the century the rail system took over transport of goods and slowed traffic to the coast by boats, but the new rail system ran from San Francisco to LA with a spur coming into Lompoc. The city is known as the City of Arts and Flowers and indeed they became know as the capitol for the flower seed industry. The area became agriculturally based and still grows many flowers.
In 1941 Camp Cooke was established as a Army Training base and was renamed Vandenburg Air Force Base in 1958 when the Air Force began using it as a test site for intermediate-range ballistic missles. In the late 1980’s this was to be the new spot for launching Space Shuttle Missions and the town grew and boomed with the expectation of people coming in to see the launches. Sadly the Challenger shuttle explosion in 1986 ended that program and the city struggled to find a way out of the recession they found themselves in.
They turned to Tourism and now in addition to their arts and flowers, they are home to many wineries with around 30 tasting rooms, which are typically open on the weekends.
The Wine Ghetto
The Lompoc Wine Ghetto came about in 1998 when Rick Longoria moved his winery operations to an industrial Warehouse in Lompoc. It was close to the vineyards and allowed an affordable space to make wine. Others soon followed suit, and while Longoria moved out of the Ghetto, in to a new facility down the street (in the historic JM Club), there are still plenty of great tasting rooms in the Ghetto.
We had tasted in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto before at Palmina by Steve Clifton and a little further outside the Ghetto at Brewer Clifton back in 2012. It seems like not so long ago, but really it has been a bit of time and things have changed. Brewer-Clifton was founded in 2001 by Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton. In 2015 Ken Frederickson and his team joined Brewer Clifton and recently the winery was purchased by Jackson Family Wines.
We also visited Fiddlehead Cellars during a Vintners Spring weekend event and enjoyed a great tasting with Kathy Josephs the winemaker there as well as some great home-cooked food!
Currently the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is home to 18 wineries and tasting rooms. In addition there are individual tasting rooms like Longoria and Brewer Clifton further to the West and just east of the Ghetto is the Santa Rita Hills Wine Center Where you can find 4 tasting rooms and several other wineries. The tasting rooms here include Zotovich, AVE, Kessler-Hawk and Transcendence. In the Ghetto you will find Ampelos, Arcadian, Bratcher, DSP, Fiddlehead, Flying Goat, Holus Bolus, Jalama, La Montagne, La Vie, Montemar, Morretti, Pali, Palmina, Piedrasassi & Stolpman. Check out the Lompoc Wine Trail for details and a map.
During this visit we stopped at A Taste of Sta. Rita Hills tasting room, which shares space with Moretti, located in the Wine Ghetto and then visited AVE and Transcendence located a short walk away at the Santa Rita Hills Wine Center.
You will find that most of the tasting rooms and wineries here focus on the varieties of grapes coming from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, meaning lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but there are other varieties available also.
While I was unable to get there, on Friday afternoons, Piedrasassi, Sashi Moorman’s Winery also has it’s Bakery open run by Melissa Sorongon. You can get fresh baked bread and taste some great wines all at one time. It’s on my list.
We will be sharing the details of our tastings in Lompoc in future posts. Keep up to date on all of our posts by following us on Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
When in Napa, the best place to spend your morning, before heading out for wine tasting, is Yountville. Bouchon Bakery….Ahh… I live in Vegas and there are two Bouchon Bakeries at the Venetian, so I am luckier than most to be able to have these delicious pastries closer at hand than most, but really there is nothing like a Café au Lait and a Pain du Chocolat while sitting on a bench outside Bouchon Bakery in Yountville in the morning. You often start outside on the sidewalk, making friends as you exchange the duty of holding the door for the line that trails out of the tiny building. Once inside you can watch the bakery though the glass windows as they make the bread and pastries, while you await a close enough spot in the line to see the pastries in the display case. Once there you are mesmerized by all the beautiful pastries, which to choose? Then you must quickly decide on your drink (this part reminds me of the Starbucks in Time Square). The staff bustles behind the counter, maneuvering around each other in their morning game of twister as they fill orders. You politely duck back to await your name being called and move 5 or 6 times to allow others to grab a napkin or a fork from the counter behind you. This bustle could feel stressful anywhere else, but you’re in Yountville, so everyone smiles sweetly with an underlying sense of bliss for the deliciousness that is coming and the wonders of the day ahead.
Once handed your parcel of pastries, you scoot outside to find a seat. This trip had us there on a Saturday, and we were lucky that a bench opened up quickly. Immediately the sparrows stop by to demand crumbs. I’m so blissful, I can’t deny them. Then suddenly my pain au chocolate is gone. I nurse my café au lait to extend my reason for staying. Finally, we vacate to allow someone else a little of this bliss.
But the morning doesn’t end there. It’s cool and comfortable. The birds are chirping and Yountville is the perfect place for a morning stroll. The city is dotted with public art, and grapevines and then there is the French Laundry Culinary Garden. And strolling is part of what this place is about. If you visit the Yountville website, the first words you read are “Welcome to Yountville! Here we embrace the old world Italian custom “Passeggiata” – an appreciation for the art of stroll and all the discovery and comfort that comes with it.” So, to embrace the local culture, we strolled.
First…a little history on Yountville.
Yountville and the surrounding area, in the early 1800’s was owned by Mexico. In 1836, George C. Yount, the city’s namesake, got a land grant from Mexico that ran the width of the Napa Valley from the current city of Yountville, north to the southern edge of St. Helena. George named the area Caymus Rancho. He was the first to plant grapes in Napa Valley and laid out a village with a public square that he called “Yountville”.
The city is dotted with public art. You can find a map for the Art Walk on the Yountville City Site. I was enamoured with the Rock Mushroom Garden by Napa Valley Artists Rich Botto.
As you stroll through town, you will find the V Marketplace across the street from Bouchon Bakery (and of course Bouchon, the restaurant). This Marketplace houses Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Bottega as well as multiple specialty shops. This spot has some history also. In 1874 this was the site of the first winery in Napa Valley built by Gotteib Groezinger. The three massive stone buildings Groezinger built now house beautiful specialty shops with apparel, home decor, jewelry, art as well as restaurants and tasting rooms. The structure encompasses gardens with fountains and often hosts events.
The city is also dotted with grapevines here and there, it is after all, their biggest industry, and the vines were beautiful with grapes in veraison as we strolled. There is also a large oak tree in the in the center of town, branches shored up by posts, that provides shade over a park. We were strolling, but there is plenty here to side track you, tasting rooms, shops, galleries, bistros and then of course, some of the finest restaurants in the country.
And this was just the beginning of our stroll. Next we will stroll down Washington Street to visit the Culinary Gardens of the French Laundry.
For more on Yountville visit the Yountville site where you can find details on places to stay, things to do and upcoming events.
Continue with us as we chronicle our journey through wine country and dig into some of the wonderful places we’ve already visited. You can find us here at Crushed Grape Chronicles or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Just across the street from Sonoma Plaza in beautiful downtown Sonoma sits Corner 103. Appropriately it is on the Corner and the address is 103 West Napa Street. It’s an understated name. If you go by early in the day you are likely to see a man outside sweeping the sidewalk in front of the establishment. That man would be the founder and owner Lloyd Davis. Understated is a word that describes Lloyd well, he is soft spoken and mild mannered, and his tasting room, which is much more than a tasting room, like the man himself, is sparkling and spotless.
We had a 2 pm appointment for a Cheese Experience. Brent welcomed us and then Lloyd joined us at the table which was glistening with glasses of wine and plates of cheese and something more. Lloyd intends this to be an experience, and an educational one. This is not just educational in that you learn about wine, but that you learn about what you like and don’t like in wine. Every palate is different and the intention is for you to experience how you can find things that speak to your taste buds.
The table is beautiful with the glasses, and I realize that there are many different styles of glasses before me, each specific to the wine that it holds. While you can drink wine from any sort of container or glass, the right shape of glass can greatly enhance the experience, bringing out the aromas in a wine and channeling them in just the right way for you to be able to most appreciate them.
Under each glass sits a coaster size card giving you the wine, the area the grapes came from, the Vintage and any awards that the wine has garnered. Flip the card over and you are treated to even more information. This begins with a short description from Lloyd and then includes a map of the Sonoma Valley, with the specific area that the grapes for this wine were pulled from highlighted. It goes on to give you the Blend, the Total Production, Alcohol, the Appropriate glass style to drink it from, the Harvest and Bottling Dates, how it was aged, the appropriate serving temperature and the price. It’s quite a bit of information I know, but for a wine geek like me…heaven.
In addition there was a card specific to our tasting with each wine and the cheese and other other small bits.
As we chatted and Lloyd explained a little about Corner 103, he invited us to enjoy some of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. This allowed us to prime our palates and get into discussing the wine and what we tasted. He asked each of us and explained that we were likely to experience the wine differently, our taste buds and experiences are unique to each of us and affect how we interpret flavors.
We moved on to the 2014 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast which was paired with and Italian Style table cheese as well as crushed roasted hazelnuts. The process went as follows; taste the wine, taste the cheese, taste the wine with the cheese and finally taste the wine with the cheese and the hazelnuts. The idea is to identify what you are tasting separately with the wine, then the cheese and then how they are different when they are together. Adding the hazelnuts at the end change what you experience yet again. Depending on what you enjoyed or disliked about each bite, Lloyd can suggest a pairing. If you enjoyed the wine with the cheese, try a darker meat chicken, if you didn’t like it with the cheese try it with white meat chicken (adjusting the fat content). If you liked the addition of hazelnuts, perhaps try adding something earth to the dish like mushrooms. The possibilities are endless, but this small pairing can give you direction for planning an entire meal.
We continued on moving into the red wines:
2013 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley with California Daisy Cheddar & Dried Cherries
2012 Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley with Asiago & Dried Herbs
2012 Merlot from the Alexander Valley with Oro Secco & Bacon Bits
2012 Red Blend (Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel & Petite Sirah with Romanello Dolce & Green Peppercorns
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sonoma Valley with Mezzo Secco & Blackberry Preserve.
Each time the sequence was the same; wine, cheese, wine & cheese, wine & cheese & the added flavor. Michael and I surprised ourselves with some of the differences in our tastes. Throughout the experience Lloyd encouraged us to not worry about what was right or wrong. We are each experts on what we are tasting. His quiet and thoughtful demeanor allowed us to open up to our own thoughts and interpretations.
With Corner 103 Lloyd is committed to creating a safe space for everyone to learn and embrace the wine expert inside each of us. He finds that too many people are intimidated by wines. His wines strive to be approachable.
The experience is really extraordinary and you are treated as an honored guest from the moment that you walk in the door. While we were there, the beautiful park was right across the street, people and cars were going by, people came and went, at least I think they did, I was completely absorbed in the experience.
You can visit the Corner 103 website to schedule one of these amazing tastings.
a Corner 103 Photo Gallery
So we find ourselves on the Vista Terrace at the beautiful Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. It’s a comfortable morning where the clouds have not yet burned off, so the view is soft and the vines look happy. And it’s time to get down to some tasting. 5 flights were available on the list including the Winery Exclusive Flight which included 3 sparkling wines that were exclusive to the winery (you can’t purchase them anywhere else), a 90 Point flight of their sparkling wines that have been rated at 90 points or about, the Glorious Flight which comes with a chocolate pairing, a Pinot Flight and a Ferrer Family Passport which includes 3 still red wines. There are other wines available by the glass.
We chose the Winery Exclusive Flight. I mean why wouldn’t you? If we can taste the other wines elsewhere, this was the flight to go with. This flight included the 2009 Extra Brut, the 2013 Brut Rosé and the 2005 Carneros Cuvée.
2009 Extra Brut
This is a blend that is 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. This is a “late disgorged” wine. This wine cellar aged for 7 years. The “late disgorging” enhances the bubbles. This vintage, 2009 started mild, with ideal summer temperatures so the fruit was able to ripen and develop deep flavors.
With Green apple and brioche for your nose and then, citrus, honey and black cherry for your taste buds.
2013 Brut Rosé
92% Pinot Noir and 8% Chardonnay. This wine has strawberry and brioche on the nose, Watermelon and peach on the palate with some ginger notes at the end. This is a festive wine that is a real crowd pleaser.
2005 Carneros Cuvée
53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay. This is their flagship sparkling wine. The 2005 vintage started out cool and wet with a late bud break. The summer was sunny and dry and the temperature were mild going into harvest which meant more hang time between veraison and harvest.
This is made from the premium estate fruit. It has 9 years en tirage, and 6 months on the cork. It was indeed our favorite wine of the tasting. What is en tirage you ask? this is the French term for how long the wine rests in the bottle on the lees (the dead yeast sediment) from the secondary fermentation. This allows the flavor of the autolyzed yeast to develop in the wine.
This was my favorite from this tasting, with floral notes, apple, honey, ripe pear and a bit of mineral which keeps it clean even with it’s long finish.
2014 Blanc de Blancs
We were lucky to taste the newest Blanc de Blancs their 2014. It was a beautiful bright color and was crisp with green apples and pears and meyer lemon. It had some lovely yeasty brioche and a creamy mouthfeel.
In Addition we tasted the 2008 Royal Cuvée and the 2015 José Ferrer Chardonnay ($40).
2008 Royal Cuvée
The Royal Cuvée has a history. The inaugural vintage of the “Royal Cuvée” was in 1987 and was first served to King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain when they visited California.
It is 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. These grapes are handpicked and brought to the winery in small bins and only the first press of gentle whole-cluster press is used. It ferments in stainless steel. It is blended after 6 months then bottled and aged sur-lie in the wine caves for 7 years. It is then disgorged and finished with a dry dosage and aged an additional 6 months before being released.
This has peach, ripe apple and honey on the nose with black cherry and pear on the palate. It is bright and crisp with a hint of ginger at the end.
2015 José Ferrer Chardonnay
The only still wine that we tasted, this 100% Estate Chardonnay, is whole cluster pressed very gently. It is barrel fermented and aged in French oak with 25% of that being new oak, for 9 months. They put a third of the wine through malolactic fermentation. The barrels were stirred monthly for 6 months to mix the lees and create the full mouthfeel of the wine.
This wine had some tropical fruit and green apple, but what stood out to me was the spice. When I described the wine at the tasting, my first thought was “spicy”. This is not heat or pepper, but more baking spices.
The wines were lovely. On our next visit I look forward to tasting the olive oil also. They have multiple tastings to choose from as well as experiences. I was tempted by a flight that had a chocolate pairing. They also have 3 guided tours daily that should be reserved in advance. There are several other experiences: Pinot Journey, Bubbles and Bites, A Taste of Spain, Glassware Exploration, Gloria’s Wine Country Picnic and Reserve Tour that are available with advanced reservations.
This beautiful winery is definitely the perfect way to start a day in Sonoma. If you missed our post on some of the history of Gloria Ferrer, you can find it here Gloria Ferrer – A little history.
On our recent trip to the California Coast we had the opportunity to stop for a tasting at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyard. Located in Carneros, which is the Southern end of Sonoma County Wine Region, this is a sparkling wine house.
The Ferrers have a little bit of wine history. The family has been growing wine since the 1500s. They own La Freixendeda (which means “ash tree grove” in Catalan) outside of Barcelona Spain which is an 11th century farming estate. From the estate name comes “Freixenet” the famous Cava from Spain. Yep, they own that too.
The story of Freixenet, goes like this: Pedro Ferrer marries Dolores Sala (from another winemaking family). Phylloxera hit Spain as they got married wiping out vineyards. The two replanted their vineyards with white wine varieties and decided to make sparkling wine. The first bottles of Freixenet (which was Pedro’s childhood nickname) were released in 1914. You are sure to have had one of those signature black bottles at some point.
There have been lots of articles out recently about Cava and Prosecco, and the one thing that stands largest among the difference between the two (other than grapes and location) is the method in which they are made. Cava is made in the Traditional Method (like champagne) where the secondary fermentation is done in bottle. This produces much smaller and more persistent bubbles.
Cava is made with 3 primary types of grapes Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada.
José and Gloria Ferrer came to California in the 70’s on a road trip. They fell in love with Sonoma and wanted to come and build a winery here. The Ferrer Team knew that they wanted to make méthode champenoise wine in New World terroir and that to do that they would need Pinot Noir. They acquired Pinot and Chardonnay clones from Champagne and brought them to plant in Carneros. They purchased 100 acres from three cattle ranches in Sonoma to plant the original vines in 1982 and in 1986 they opened the beautiful winery with the Vista Terrace for visitors to enjoy the wine and the view. They now farm 335 acres of Vineyards, still primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The vines at Gloria Ferrer are hand farmed and many of the original crew that planted the grapes 30 years ago are still a part of the process.
The Winery and Vista Terrace
The Winery which opened in 1986 was designed like a Catalan Farmhouse originally, with wooden beams and old world charm. The caves were the first built in the area. The president of the Catalan Government actually came to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. When they decided to update the tasting room they worked with a Catalan interior designer, Isa Rodriguez (he also designed the Freixenet’s building in Spain). The modern tasting room still includes the wooden beams, but in a much more modern aesthetic.
So while modern tasting room is stunning, the view will draw you out to the Vista Terrace. This is a civilized tasting, you don’t stand at a bar, you are escorted to a table where you can enjoy glasses or flights. They have expanded the Vista Terrace to have an area reserved for Wine Club Members as well as lots of additional room for other guests.
There are umbrellas for shade, but the morning that we were there it was early and the sky’s were still a little cloudy allowing us a comfortable and cool tasting right on the edge of the terrace, with expansive views out onto the front vineyard blocks as well as to the South which are part of the “Home Ranch” and just a little further south to the Circle Bar Ranch. Well, so much for the view, our next post will tell you about the tasting. Bubbles to Start the day – at Gloria Ferrer