Every now and then I get to visit a winery
while on a date with my husband.
Not for the purpose of doing a feature on a winemaker or a tasting room.
But just because I want to relax, sip and swallow all of my tastings, and be a guest.
Inevitably, we talk about the wines together as well as with the staff. We love it.
Mica Raas is from my home town, Santa Cruz, CA.
He moved to the El Dorado County region to further pursue his career in wine.
He’s been part of the craft wine industry in Santa Cruz and winemaker for 1850 Wine Cellars based in Sutter Creek.
These days, he has his own winery and tasting room in beautiful Placerville (Link.)
I’ve had the chance to meet Mica at the Amador County Four Fires Festival.
He’s worked first hand with fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Now, he also crafts wines with El Dorado County grapes; combining his years of experience.
2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
2016 Cotes du Cruz Rouge
2016 Tempranillo, Clarksburg.
2017 Nebbiolo, Fair Play.
Typically I prefer tasting wines on their own, and then going back to taste the wine alongside the foods.
I feel it lets me experience what the wine is
meant to be, with out the distraction of the foods.
We started the tasting with wine only.
When the reds came, so did the small plates; and
the combination worked!
The savory gorgonzola,
umami mushrooms, salty chips, and
creamy cheeses melded artfully with the wines.
Myka Cellar’s food menu is expanding, and
the dishes are chosen to
complement their line of wines.
The setting will win you over,
while the wine and food will make you
relax and linger.
Happy Wine & Food Pairing to you!
For your next wine outing, bring along some of my Tasting Room Tips...
Placerville takes credit for being located “just above the fog-line, and just below the snow-line.”
Lewis Grace Vineyards (link) is nestled in this gorgeous sunbelt of the California foothills.
It’s a region that draws visitors to it year round.
Families, who had been stuck at home with antsy children, flocked to the country in hopes of fresh air.
The Apple Hill region is dotted with farms that offer fresh baked goods, fruit, Christmas trees and WINE.
Owners, Steve and Bea, have honed in the art of hospitality.
With their enticing line of wines and gracious setting, wine fans have every reason to slow down and enjoy!
At my tasting, the winery allowed guests to bring their own food in. Guests can bring picnic items or take out to fit their needs. (please check current guidelines.)
Outdoor patio seating arrangements offer plenty of social distancing space, with nearby
vineyards and views of distant hills...the perfect setting for those selfies!
For the Wine Tasting:
The wines on their tasting menu were under “Cool & Crisp” or “Warm & Cozy,” giving tasters a preview of what to expect.
Wines are available by the bottle, glass, or a tasting flight.
We chose a flight with a combination of white and red wines.
This is typically my favorite. I feel as if I’m walking through the story of their craft.
For their “Cool & Crisp” wines:
For their “Warm & Cozy” wines:
2014 Aboriginal Red:
Also look for Grace Patriot: Pinot Gris, Petite Sirah, Barbera, their smooth and luscious Estate grown Pinot Noir, as well as dessert wines.
Lewis Grace winery is open most days, which makes it idea for when you want to
skip the crowds and enjoy a weekday tasting. The wines and setting were so lovely, we came back with close family.
Cheers to your next distance-friendly wine tasting.
The flavors and impressions I enjoyed may spur you to try Lewis Grace wines and
discover your own fondness for their family crafted wines.
A toast to you and your next outdoor wine tasting.
Find more wineries & tasting rooms in the sunny California Foothills here...
Wine tasting has become a little more complex in 2021, but is still just as worth it.
Once upon a time, wine fans could hop in their car and head to their winery of choice.
Now, most tasting rooms ask guest to make an appointment online or via phone, for a specific day and time.
Our tasting at Fenton Herriott Vineyards (FHV) was held outside near a bocce ball court and along side the vineyard.
And that’s just fine with me.
I feel that wine tastes better and is more alive when sipped next to the vines.
The homey feel of the winery along with fresh air, outdoor seating, and comfortable spacing is a stellar combination.
Owner, Guy Harriett, planted the vines along the El Dorado County hillside. Today Fenton Herriott’s six acres of grapes include Syrah, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Gewurztraminer. And a new addition--a small lot of Cabernet Sauvignon--is in its first year of wine production.
General manager and winemaker, Nathan, shared with me his interests in honoring the traditional flavors of Fenton Harriett Wines. The fruit-forward, aged wines are what locals and fans have grown to depend on for the last 20 years. FHV wines traditionally are aged in new French oak barrels for up to three years.
Most New World tasters are notorious for drinking their wines soon after purchasing. So FHV lets many of their wines age and mature a bit before being released or sold. That way wine fans—with their first sip—are introduced to what the wine is meant to be.
Clever wine names like “Jane Way” and “Jack Way” are a nod to their location on Jacquier Ct. (dubbed “Jake Way” by locals.)
For the tastings...
Jane Way-Lot 7: a romantic blend of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.
Sangioves Rose’ 2018.
Nathan is introducing new silhouettes of wines.
His Jayne Way and his dry Gewurztraminer lean towards an Alsatian style that balances acids,
lower alcohols, and a dryer palate to the wines.
I imagine in the next couple of years the wine selection at FHV will be branching out.
Tasters can look forward to classic full bodied red wines as well as anticipate
dryer, lighter wines like their El Dorado County unoaked Chardonnay.
Just a reminder to visit online or call for reservations and for current wine tasting/Covid procedures.
Safe sipping and good health to you and your loved ones!
For more... Tasters are drinking wine in the comfort and safety of their homes,
read about Closures here...and get the most out of every drop of your wine!
Just this weekend, Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz,
El Dorado and Amador County wineries and tasting rooms
flung open their doors to tasters!
Yes, exhale with joy!
Winemakers and their staff are as eager to see you as you are to see them.
After almost four months of sheltering in place, California is starting to open up wineries.
Before you plan your customary day of tasting, here are a few tips on what’s happening in the tasting room scene:
When you arrive for your tasting appointment:
Your favorite wineries are anxious to see their tasting fans again!
Contact them if you have any questions about their current—and evolving—tasting practices.
And bringing a note of thanks, a big air hug, or a treat to your best loved winery is always in style.
A toast to the new ways of sipping!
Gain more from your next tasting with Nose & Palate wine traits...
If I had to taste at one winery before home became my new world,
I'm glad it was at Puma Road Winery.
My husband and I had a few days to get away for our wedding anniversary. It was our last vacation to enjoy each other and some wine outside the confines of our house—just before the shelter-in-place.
Owner, Ray Franscioni, produces Bordeaux varietal wines in the Salinas Valley. The valley's history includes flood rains which washed soil down River Road tearing out row crops of potatoes, beets, and beans. So in the 70's Ray started planting vineyards. That seemed to be the ideal time to plant grapes instead, since the area offers ideal weather “it doesn't get too hot, or too cold.”
Native to the Salinas Valley, Ray is a business man, wine advocate, and neighbor all rolled into one.
He has an easy, straight forward way about him and grew up on the Puma Road property.
The winery reminds me of a village pub: it's a landing place.
It's a close knit community with family, friends, and neighbors rolling into the
tasting room like clockwork. Around 4:00 pm, people stop in to taste, talk about the day,
then move on down the road to Pessagno Winery, Ray's other winery and tasting room.
Susie, the Puma Road Tasting Room Supervisor, shared “What you see is what you get.
No one is trying to be anything they aren't.” It was refreshing to be in that kind of setting.
Ray grows his own grapes for his wines.
Since my dad's background is in the nursery business, and my childhood was surrounded by agriculture,
I have a heavy respect and appreciation for growers and farmers.
Ray's hospitality is matched by his fastidious care for his wines. He shared with me that barrels are expensive, but he doesn't want to compromise on quality. A winery can spend as much on barrels as fruit. Olivier Rousset and Rodney Whitlock are Puma's dynamic wine making team.
Puma Road wines go down easy-like.
Not too acidic, tannic, sweet, or sharp, I was tempted to drink the tastings, not sip them.
At home, Puma Road wines are charming on their own as I'm cooking or while reading a book.
And they pair easily with foods; from bread and cheese to grilled meats and veggies.
I felt as if this was what wine should be doing.
For my tasting...
Puma Road and Pessagno Winery offer a myriad of wines to choose from;
Tannat to Chardonnay to Vintage Sparkling Wines. Explore! (Order online.)
Thank you Ray, Susie, and Puma Road staff for the terrific tasting
and overview of your wines and selections.
With a glass of Puma Road wine in our hands
and a prayer on our lips...
For tips on how to store your wines & not waste a drop visit my post on
"Closures, Keeping a Lid on Your Wines".
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