One of the last vineyards on Rancho California Road is the new Chapin Family Vineyards next to Doffo. The family has owned the 5 acre property since 1987 and began planting vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah & Petit Verdot in 2002. 2006 saw their first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then they have added Montepulciano, Aglianico, and Viognier. The tasting room is one of the newest opening in 2011.
Steve Chapin is the owner and winemaker here. Looking for high quality fruit, they typically drop 40-50% of their crop. In this way they create very intense wines. They use whole berry maceration instead of a crusher and ferment in open bins to intensify the fruit character.
The tasting room is open daily from 10-5.
It’s always a joy to walk into a tasting room, for a wine tasting, be warmly welcomed and find that you have someone pouring for you that loves to talk about his or her winery and obviously loves the wines. Such was the case when we arrived early on a Friday morning to the Chapin Family Vineyards tasting room. We were the first to arrive that morning and as we walked in Leroy greeted us and offered us a spot at the tasting bar.
The Chapin Family Vineyard is the furthest Winery and Vineyard on Rancho California Road. Located next to Doffo, the winery property is filled with palm trees, the owner Steve’s first love.
While they do not grow grapes for white wines here at this point, they do work with a winery in Marche, Italy where they import their Passerina white wine. This wine has a golden color and is dry with mineral notes as well as floral notes, apricot and peach with a small hint of spice.
As we tasted the 2009 Syrah, Leroy filled us in on the history of the winery. The Chapin Family (Steve’s parents) bough the property here and the property across the street where Doffo now stands in 1980. It was 15 years later as they watched vineyards pop up all over the valley when they decided to plant some grapes. They now grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Montepulciano, Petite Verdot and Viognier. (Yes I know Viognier is a white wine and I said they didn’t grow those. They only grow enough Viognier to add to their red blends). The Montepulciano is scattered throughout the vineyard. You will notice blue tags on vines indicating that is it is this variety. The Syrah borders the vineyards.
As we tasted the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is delicious with fruit and chocolate, decidedly low tannins and very approachable, Leroy filled us in on vineyard techniques. They use a single cordon method here to intensify the flavors. Leroy asked us to think of the vine as the trunk, as it grows it sends out a branch, which in double cordon growing would spread out to the opposite side of the original trunk. Here they clip that branch working only with the trunk itself. They do all hand picking here and carefully destem all fruit.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was 75% Cabernet, 10% Petite Verdot for some color (inking they call this) and 15% Zin for zing. This is lighter and leaner than the 2009 and slightly less complex. 2008 was a wet year with less sun on the grapes and the grapes were juicier and less intense. They think of this wine as a more Bordeaux style wine.
The 2010 Merlot had just been release a month before and was still young but you can see the potential. This is only the 2nd Merlot they have done. It is spicy with red fruit and cedar, medium tannins and a little mocha. This wine was made from sourced fruit, as they do not yet grow Merlot.
Their 2010 Zinfandel is medium bodied with bright spice and light tannins. You get big fruit up front, no heat (which is great for a Zin) and it has a shorter finish.
The 2009 Chapin Family Summit is a Cabernet based blend with Montepulciano and Merlot. There is a lovely little bit of barnyard on the nose and a slight herbal quality. The tannins are deeper and the wine has tartness.
While we were there, two wine club members arrived and Leroy set them up with a glass of wine out on the patio. They carry Boars Head products in their deli and they picked something out and he plated it for them and took it to them on the patio. Now that is service! So many places have a deli and you end up eating out of a plastic container. Leroy wants you to enjoy your experience, so he takes great care of the people who come in. They offer to do your tasting on the patio if you prefer.
We next tasted the Marche Rosso, which they bring in from Marche Italy. A blend of 80% Montepulciano and 20% Syrah, is an example of the style of Montepulciano that they hope to produce. It had spice and leather and wet earth on the nose and quite and a bit of depth. The tannins were tangy and the wine leaves your mouth watering for more. There was also good tartness on the sides of my tongue.
The last wine we tasted was a Late Harvest Zin Tawny Port, put in port barrels in the sun and do them in a solera style. You get caramel, but it is not too sweet. With deep fragrances of hazelnut and brown sugar this was hot on my nose as it is fortified, but was not hot on the palate. This is one of the more approachable ports I have had.
Chapin Family Vineyards a great place for a tasting or just a glass of wine. Leroy makes you feel pampered making sure that you are comfortable and having a great experience. The afternoon before the entire patio was filled, so word must be out. If you are in Temecula Wine Country, don’t miss stopping here.