Tag Archives: wineding road

One Perfect Day in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe

I just recently returned from a weekend in Baja near Ensenada and I’m already working on a plan to go back.  It had been nearly a decade since my last trip south of the border, so I wan’t sure what to expect.

Baja coastline near La Fonda

Baja coastline near La Fonda

What I found when we arrived was a magical place full of beauty, adventure, incredible food & great wines.  We stayed at an amazing house near the town of La Fonda and spent a full day exploring the local wine country, Valle de Guadalupe.

Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe

We could have easily spent a week or more checking out all the wine and food along the Ruta Del Vino, but since our time was limited, we visited the modern & architecturally stunning Monte Xanic winery, had lunch at an outstanding little restaurant called La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina, and finished the day sipping Tempranillo at the super cool Vena Cava winery.

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic Calixa Grenache Rosado

Monte Xanic Calixa 2014 Grenache Rosado

Monte Xanic Calixa

Monte Xanic 2013 Calixa Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Blend – one of my personal favorites

We left Monte Xanic and had one of the most memorable lunches I’ve had in ages at La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina.  Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero’s delicious cuisine, the local wines, the rustic interior with splashes of blue and lots of open space that made it feel like we were sitting in the middle of a vineyard… it was just heavenly.

La Esperanza

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

La Esperanza Baja Med Cocina

After lunch, we ended the afternoon at the funky and very hip Vena Cava Winery.  We sipped wine under the arched ceiling of their tasting room, which was created using an overturned, salvaged boat from a nearby port.

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Troika food truck at Vena Cava

Troika food truck at Vena Cava Winery

Troika food truck at Vena Cava Winery

Troika food truck at Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Winery

Vena Cava Big Red

Vena Cava 2012 Big Blend

Vena Cava 2012 Tempranillo

Vena Cava 2012 Tempranillo

We made it back to La Fonda just in time to sit on the deck, crack open a bottle of Tempranillo, watch the sun melt into the ocean, and dream up our next visit to this incredible place…

Booker watching the sun melt into the ocean in Puerto Nuevo

Booker enjoying the sunset in La Fonda, Baja

MONTE XANIC BODEGA VINICOLA
Lago Tangañica 18, Col. Granada,
11520, México D.F.
Phone (toll-free):  01 800 717 4633

LA ESPERANZA BAJA MED COCINA
km. 73.5, Carretera No. 3 Ensenada-Tecate
Valle de Guadalupe, México
Phone (México):  664-143-0999
Phone (US):  619-734-2360

VENA CAVA WINERY
Valle de Guadalupe, México
email: info@venacavawine.com
Phone (México): 646-156-8053

5 Must-Try Rosé Wines For Summertime

With longer, warmer days upon us, it seems like Rosé season has finally arrived.  Grab a chair in the sun and enjoy one of these bottles on a lazy Summer afternoon.

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

 

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé
The Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé is made from Touriga Nacional, which is one of Portugal’s finest varietals and is typically used to make Port.  Arnot-Roberts  uses grapes grown in volcanic/river rock soils of the Luchsinger Vineyard in Lake County to make their Rosé.  It’s a very dry wine with a nice, crisp acidity.  Not a Rosé for everyone, but I thought it was quite good.

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

 

Copain 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé
Copain’s 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé is made from Pinot Noir from the North Coast AVA and is full of juicy red fruit and a bright acidity.  This wine is beautifully balanced and ideal to pair with food.

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

 

ONX “Indie” 2014 Rosé
ONX has been putting out some outstanding wines and the “Indie” Rosé is no exception.  Made from Tempranillo, Indie achieves an effortless harmony between slightly sweet red berry and watermelon notes, and refreshing acidity.  This wine is very easy to drink.  I recommend having several bottles of Indie chilled and ready to go for those warm Summer days.

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

 

Cholame Vineyard 2014 Rosé
I just recently discovered the wines of Cholame Vineyard and am so happy I did.  Their newly-released 2014 Rosé is full of fresh strawberry with a beautiful finish that will appeal to a wide variety of palates.  Cholame is a Native American word meaning “The Beautiful One” which describes this wine perfectly.

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

 

Brachetto d’ Acqui DOCG “Conti di Gropello”
I’m typically not a fan of sweet wines and was hesitant to include a sparkling wine on this list, however after tasting the Conte di Gropello Brachetto d’ Acqui, I couldn’t resist.  This deep pink, low alcohol (6.5%) sparkling wine is like summertime in a glass.  It tastes like sugar-dusted wild strawberries with a pleasantly balanced finish and a frothy effervescence…almost like an adult version of strawberry soda.  It’s guaranteed to make those who lean towards sweeter wines (Moscato, etc.) very happy.

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Here are a few more exceptional 2014 Rosé wines to try:
L’Aventure 2014 Estate Rosé (Paso Robles)
LIOCO 2014 “Indica” Rosé (Mendocino County)
Villa Creek 2014 “Pink” Rosé (Paso Robles)
Law Estate Wines 2014 Rosé (Paso Robles)

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

 

Iron Horse Vineyards | Sebastopol, CA

Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, CA was by far my biggest wine related surprise of the year.  I mean this in the best possible way for a couple different reasons.

Iron Horse Ranch & Vineyards

Iron Horse Ranch & Vineyards

I love Champagne, but I tend to stay away from California Sparkling Wines.  While there are some standouts, I find many of them too sweet and lacking the tiny, delicate Methode Champenoise bubbles found in many of the best Champagnes.

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

That being said, I received my December issue of Wine Enthusiast which featured their top 100 wine picks of 2014 – The Enthusiast 100 – and noticed a bottle of 2010 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee on the cover.  The Wedding Cuvee was the number ten wine of the year and received a score of 95.  I knew I’d be spending New Year’s in the Russian River area and when I realized Iron Horse was a quick drive from where I was staying, I had to check them out.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - The Enthusiast 100 of 2014

Wine Enthusiast Magazine – The Enthusiast 100 of 2014 with Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee on the cover

I visited Iron Horse Vineyards without doing any prior research, so based solely on their prestigious reputation and rave reviews, I was expecting a large winery…something a bit fancy with perfectly manicured grounds and a corporate feel.  Their sparkling wines have been served at the White House for five consecutive Presidential Administrations starting with Reagan for crying out loud.

Instead what I discovered was the complete opposite and I absolutely loved it.

As you approach Iron Horse Vineyards, the paved narrow road you’ve been navigating suddenly becomes an even narrower gravel road.  The entry to the property is flanked by two weathered stone markers with the recognizable bucking Iron Horse logo on each.

Unpaved drive to Iron Horse Vineyards

Unpaved drive to Iron Horse Vineyards

Entry to Iron Horse Vineyards

Entry to Iron Horse Vineyards

We finally arrived at the winery parking lot to find a totally unassuming, rustic set of barn-style buildings perched on a gorgeous piece of land with million dollar views all around.

Looking out towards the parking lot at Iron Horse Vineyards

Looking out towards the parking lot at Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

The gorgeous view from Iron Horse Vineyards

The gorgeous view from Iron Horse Vineyards

Views from Iron Horse Vineyards

Views of Napa in the distance from Iron Horse Vineyards

The tasting area at Iron Horse is essentially an outdoor bar crafted out of wood planks propped on wine barrels.  The entire vibe was casual and friendly without an ounce of pretension.  Just perfect.

Iron Horse Vineyards outdoor tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards outdoor tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

We were greeted by Lisa who walked us through a tasting of five different Sparkling Wines, all of which were outstanding…beautifully balanced with superfine effervescence.  Those who don’t like bubbles have the option of a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir flight as well.

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting bar

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting flights

Iron Horse Vineyards tasting flights

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee

An empty bottle of 2003 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee

We visited Iron Horse on New Year’s Eve and got to watch all the cellar workers choose a bottle to take home to ring in 2015.  I got a real sense of family from everyone in the tasting room, which was such a breath of fresh air.  We managed to narrow our choices to three bottles (a crisp ’10 Oceans Reserve, a bottle of the now famous Wedding Cuvee, and an ’07 Brut Rose).

Cellar workers at Iron Horse Vineyards picking out a sparkling wine to ring in 2015

Cellar workers at Iron Horse Vineyards picking out a sparkling wine to ring in 2015

I’m so glad I had a chance to visit Iron Horse Vineyards.  My expectations were completely shattered in the best possible way.  Instead of finding another corporate winery, I discovered a laid-back, family owned winery that produces outstanding, estate bottled, world-class California Sparkling Wine. I can’t recommend Iron Horse enough and can’t wait to return…

IRON HORSE VINEYARDS
9786 Ross Station Road
Sebastopol, CA  95472
Phone:  (707) 887-1507
Email: info@ironhorsevineyards.com
Tasting room hours: 10AM – 4:30PM seven days a week

Larner Vineyard & Winery | Los Olivos, CA

Oftentimes when I visit a winery, I find that I enjoy meeting the people involved in making the wine just as much as I enjoy the wine itself.  Such was the case when I visited Larner Vineyard & Winery in Los Olivos, CA.

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

I’m fascinated by the winemaking process and am always excited when I get to chat with a winemaker I admire first hand.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when I walked into the Larner tasting room on a recent Saturday, only to find that it was empty and that winemaker & vineyard manager Michael Larner was behind the bar pouring.

Michael Larner at Larner Wines in Los Olivos, CA

Michael Larner at Larner Wines in Los Olivos, CA

Michael’s passion for wine is tireless.  After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he went on to earn his Master’s in Viticulture & Enology from UC Davis.  He then apprenticed in Tuscany and the Rhone Valley, co-founded the Ballard Canyon AVA, was named vice president of  the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, and began teaching winemaking & wine appreciation classes in Santa Maria.  Somehow he and his wife Christina found time to make the first vintage of Larner Wines in 2009 and it’s been a family run operation ever since.

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Located in a section of the Los Olivos General Store, the Larner tasting room is tiny and intimate. We walked up to the counter which is just big enough for about two people and Michael poured our first taste – a 2013 Malvasia Bianca.

Larner WInes

Larner Wines

From that point, we spent over an hour chatting with Michael about everything from vineyard management to the challenges that come with harvest & production to how to market & distribute the final product – particularly if you’re a small artisan winery.  Michael is literally hands-on every step of the way in his craft, which made the visit not only enjoyable, but educational as well.

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

After the Malvasia Bianca, we tasted a 2012 Rose, a 2010 proprietary GSM blend called Elemental, a 2010 Syrah, a 2009 Reserve Syrah, and a 2010 Grenache.  Larner specializes in Rhone varietals, all of which were nicely balanced and very food friendly.  I particularly liked the ’09 Reserve Syrah and the ’10 Grenache.

Larner Wines available by the glass

Larner Wines available by the glass

Larner Wines

Michael Larner and the Ballard Canyon AVA

If you’re a Rhone lover and you appreciate small production, hand crafted wines, you don’t want to miss Larner Vineyard & Winery.

LARNER VINEYARD & WINERY
2900 Grand Ave
Los Olivos, CA  93441
Phone:  (805) 688-8148
Email: info@larnerwine.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Monday

Williams Selyem Winery | Healdsburg, CA

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

If I had to declare a favorite wine, without hesitation it would be Pinot Noir.  There are a million other varietals that I love to drink but in my mind, nothing compares to an amazing Pinot.  And this weekend I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite California Pinot Noir makers, Williams Selyem.

The Williams Selyem Winery is perched on a gorgeous piece of property in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, CA – a place where the delicate and often finicky Pinot Noir grape tends to thrive.

A gorgeous Fall day in the Russian River Valley

A perfect Fall day in the Russian River Valley

Gorgeous Fall day in the Russian River Valley

Vibrant Fall colors in the Russian River Valley

Unmarked & gated entry to Williams Selyem Winery

Unmarked & gated entry to the Williams Selyem Winery

entry

Fruit orchards line the driveway up to the Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem has a deep-rooted history in the Russian River Valley.  In 1979, friends Ed Selyem and Burt Williams started making wine in a garage in Forestville, CA using fruit from local vineyards.  They called their winery Hacienda Del Rio until 1983 when they received a cease & desist letter from Hacienda Winery, asking them not to use the name Hacienda on their label.

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate vineyards

Fall colors in the Estate vineyards that line the drive up to the Williams Selyem Winery

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate Vineyards

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate Vineyards

Williams Selyem

Fall colors in the Williams Selyem Estate Vineyards

In 1984, the winery was officially changed to Williams Selyem and over the few decades that followed, Williams Selyem grew into the iconic label it is today.  Ed and Burt sold the winery to John Dyson in 1998 who then developed the first Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard, hired accomplished winemaker Bob Cabral, and constructed the winery’s ultramodern facility.

The stunning Williams Selyem winery

The stunning Williams Selyem Winery

The stunning Williams Selyem winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Million dollar views all around...

Million dollar views all around…

The stunning Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Access to Williams Selyem isn’t particularly easy.  In order to purchase their wines, you must secure a spot on their mailing list – called the WS List –  which currently has a wait of 9-12 months.  A tasting at Williams Selyem also requires a spot on the WS List and an appointment that needs to be booked at least two weeks in advance.

However, this allows the winery to continue its legacy of offering superior, low production, handcrafted wines to its devotees, and makes for a very personal, intimate tasting experience.  Quality is everything at Williams Selyem and it’s something they’ll never compromise for the sake of upping production.  Often it means there isn’t enough wine to go around, but that’s what makes their wine truly exceptional.

The stunning Williams Selyem winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Inside the Williams Selyem winery

Inside the Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

When we arrived for our tasting, we were greeted by two incredibly kind and informative staff members who presented us with an original bottle of 1981 Hacienda Del Rio Sonoma County Pinot Noir.  The bottle was empty of course, but I thought it was such a cool way to begin our tasting.

An original bottle of the 1981 vintage of Hacienda De Rio Sonoma County Pinot Noir

An original bottle of the 1981 vintage of Hacienda De Rio Sonoma County Pinot Noir

We then sat down at our own table where we tasted though the current portfolio, which included 3 Chardonnays (one was a special bonus – a 2000 Allen Vineyard Chardonnay!), 2 Pinot Noirs and 1 Port (another bonus treat!).  Because the wines on the distribution list sell out instantly, the selection we got to sample were “tasting room exclusives” and only available to visitors.  I was excited to add a couple more bottles to my ever-growing collection.

We tasted 3 Williams Selyem Chardonnays, including a very cool

We tasted 3 Williams Selyem Chardonnays, including a sample of the 2000 Allen Vineyard Chardonnay.  It was such a treat… like nothing I’ve ever tasted.

Our tasting menu for the day

Our tasting menu for the day

A delicious & incredibly well balanced 2009

An incredibly well-balanced 2009 Port from the Vista Verde Vineyard

At the end of the tasting, we were given a tour of the state-of-the-art winery and breathtaking property.  I’m already looking forward to returning in May for the next member pick up party.

The beautiful Williams Selyem winery

The beautiful Williams Selyem Winery

The beautiful Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

The barrel room at Williams Selyem Winery

The barrel room at Williams Selyem Winery

A very cool system to help prevent insects from eating the barrels

A very cool Birch wrapping system which helps prevent insects from eating the barrels.  Basically it’s a natural form of pest control.

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

Williams Selyem Winery

I truly can’t say enough about wines of Williams Selyem.  The Pinot Noirs are some of the best I’ve ever tasted and the rest of their wine portfolio is first-class.  There’s a reason they’ve developed a cult following and a world-class reputation.  If you’re Pinot fanatic and haven’t tried Williams Selyem, I recommend you get on the waiting list immediately.  I guarantee you’ll fall in love too…

WILLIAMS SELYEM WINERY

*** PLEASE NOTE:  Winery is not open to the public.  Tours & tastings are by appointment for WS List members only ***

7227 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Phone:  (707) 433-6425
Email (tours & tastings for WS List members): tours@williamsselyem.com

Law Estate Wines | Paso Robles, CA — A Post-Opening Update…

Last time I visited Law Estate Wines, it was more of a construction site than a finished project.  This past weekend, I visited the winery again in its completed form and was utterly blown away.  From the friendly and personal attention of the staff to the breathtaking architecture to the incredible wines, Law Estate is beyond compare.

I feel like the photos speak volumes without me saying a word.  Enjoy a look around this amazing place…

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Exterior

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Main Entry

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Entry Interior

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Hilltop Vineyards

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area w/ Fireplace

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Stunning Architecture by BAR Architects

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Custom Fermentation Tanks

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Aging Room

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Aging the 2012 AUDACIOUS (one of my personal favorites)

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Wine Library

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – 2011 “THE NINES”

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Wine Library

Due to overwhelming interest in their 2010 vintage, Law Estate’s current releases are sold out (and from what I understand, the tasting room is closed) until they unveil the 2011’s in early September.  Be sure to plan for a visit this Fall because, based on what I got a chance to sample this weekend, the 2011’s are tasting even more delicious than the 2010’s.

Thanks again to Melissa, Oliver, and everyone at Law Estate Wines.  I’m sure I’ll see you again soon…

LAW ESTATE WINES
3885 Peachy Canyon Road
Paso Robles, CA  93446
Phone:  (805) 226-9200
Email:  info@lawestatewines.com
* Tasting room will re-open for visitors in September 2014 by appointment only.  Check the Law Estate Wines website for updates.

Wind Gap Wines | The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I’ve noticed a trend recently of winemakers using a very minimalist approach to their craft.  By selecting the best grapes from specific vineyard sites, using wild yeasts, and remaining as non-interventionist as possible, they’re allowing the fruit to express itself in an honest, unique way.

An excellent example of this sort of wine making is what Pax Mahle is doing at Wind Gap Wines.  I had a chance to visit his beautiful, newly opened tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA last week and tasted through his current portfolio.

The Barlow - Sebastopol, CA

The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

The grapes used to make Wind Gap Wines are sourced from vineyards throughout California that are directly influenced by, or planted along, different “wind gaps”.  These are essentially valleys cut through the coastal hillsides where winds flow inland, impacting the wine growing regions along their path.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I was really impressed by the uniqueness of the wines in the Wind Gap portfolio.  As part of his minimalist wine making approach, Pax uses mostly neutral fermentation vessels (stainless steel, concrete & neutral oak), and keeps his alcohol levels moderate, which allows the fruit to truly shine.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Tasters have the option of trying 4 wines for $12 or 6 wines for $24.  Wines are also sold “a la carte” by the glass and carafe to enjoy on site.  I opted to try 6, which included a slightly effervescent ’13 Arinto Pierce Ranch, a ’13 Trousseau Gris, a ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , a bright ’12 Grenache from the Sceales Vineyard (some of whose vines are 80 years old), and 2 very different yet equally delicious Syrahs.  I also got to sample the ’13 North Coast Rose.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I particularly liked the ’13 Arinto and the ’13 North Coast Rose – both of which are sold in $40 refillable growlers ($28 for the refill) and perfect for summertime.  I also loved the slightly spicy ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the ’08 Russian River Syrah.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines – 2008 Russian River Valley Syrah

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Whether you stop by for an hour or to spend a relaxing afternoon, Wind Gap Wines is a “must try” for your next visit to Sebastopol…

WIND GAP WINES
@ The Barlow
6780 McKinley Street
Suite 170
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 331-1393
Email:  mail@windgapwines.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 6:30PM Thursday through Sunday

THE BARLOW
6770 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 824-5600