Along Grand Avenue in the quaint little town of Los Olivos, CA, there are enough tasting rooms to easily fill an entire weekend. On a recent trip to the area, I decided to stop in town and try the wines of Carhartt Vineyard.
Grand Avenue is lined with tasting room after tasting room, each representing a winery or vineyard that is located in the surrounding area. And the thing that makes the Carhartt Vineyard tasting room unique is that if you’re not paying attention as you drive along the avenue, you may just miss it.
The Carhartt Vineyard tasting room is really, REALLY tiny. In fact, the owners refer to it as the “World’s Smallest Tasting Room”. On the day I visited, the place was packed and there were probably only 8 of us in the room. There was also a small outdoor patio in back that fit another handful of tasters.
Even with a crowd in the tasting room, Carhartt had a wonderful, cozy feeling about it. The entire Carhartt Vineyards tasting shack was constructed mostly of warm, rustic wood with select merchandise, pieces of artwork, and family photos covering the walls inside. The front door was being guarded by a huge, intricately crafted fish sculpture that fit the whole environment perfectly.
Immediately upon entering, I was greeted by a friendly tasting room staff member who provided me with my first taste. She told me that the owners & wine makers – Mike and Brooke Carhartt – were on a long-overdue vacation, but that their son Chase was managing the tasting room for the day.
It was instantly clear that Carhartt Vineyard is a family affair. I learned that Brooke Carhartt is the very talented winemaker, her husband Mike meticulously tends to the vineyard, and they all play their part in pouring wine for their guests at the tasting room.
Chase obviously shares his parent’s passion for wine. Even though he was probably in his early 20’s, Chase explained each wine with such enthusiasm and knowledge, it seemed as though he crafted each one with his own two hands. Everyone in the tasting room gave him unwavering attention as he talked us through each pour.
I tasted six wines for a $10 fee, which was gladly waived with the purchase of two bottles. Carhartt Vineyard produces each wine in such small production and with such attention to detail that some of the varietals sell out to the wine club – before the general public even gets to try a sip.
While I thought all the wines I tasted were pretty incredible, there were a couple that stood out from the rest. The ’09 “Chase The Blues Away” Rose ($18) had just the right amount of dryness coupled with lots of juicy strawberry, watermelon and a touch of tartness. The grapes for the Rose were harvested from the 10 acre Carhartt family vineyard.
The ’07 Merlot ($30) – also from the Carhartt family vineyard – was unique and complex with lots of plum and dark cherry with a subtle hint of smoke. I took these two bottles home, but would have loved to purchase one of each bottle on the tasting list.
Be sure to stop in and say hello to the Carhartt family next time you’re visiting the Los Olivos area. The wines of Carhartt Vineyard are not to be missed…
CARHARTT VINEYARD – TASTING ROOM
2990-A Grand Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 693-5100
Fax: (805) 688-3004
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Daily