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...
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...
Winemaking is very personal.
When Brian and Jennifer Bumgarner hand you a bottle of their wine, they hand you their best. Something they've poured into. They've even designed their Five Fingers Pinot Noir with a finger print as a reminder of that purpose.
Brian cut his teeth in the wine biz by working for Boeger Wines, starting in '95. He worked in the tasting room and wanted to learn more, so he started hanging out with Greg Boeger to learn the process and craft of winemaking.
Remember, Greg is the one who started the El Dorado AVA and put the wine region on the map! (See my visit to Boeger Wines.) With that start in the local wine industry, Brian launched out and started Bumgarner wines in 2010. Brian's first flagship wine under his own label was his Cabernet.
Many hands make light work. The Bumgarners have children, and community involvement and spending time as parent volunteers is important to them. With every bottle of their Many Hands Cuvee Bordeaux blend, they donate a portion to the local Waldorf School.
Some say, “it takes a village,” but here, a bottle can make a difference!
As winemaker, Brian, intentionally crafts his wines to be dry. Their three Hard Apple Ciders are made in the dry style as well. My cider tasting included the: Silver Fork Hard Apple Cider, a Silver Fork Dry Hopped Cider, and a Ginger Infused Cider. Hard ciders would be tasty with sushi, holiday meals, and warm-weather foods.
The Bumgarner tasting room pours different wines each week,
giving tasters a chance to try a variety of their wines.
This sophisticated Cab is worthy of a special occasion.
But it also made my weeknight of home life—school lunches, doing dishes, and
folding laundry—shades better!
For a look at Bumgarner's most recent offerings, visit their site at:
During your visit:
Check out the historical outlying buildings.
Pack small bites or a picnic to enjoy with your Bumgarner wines. Picnic tables on site.
More wineries are within driving and even walking distance, so designate a driver, or trade off tastings.
This is wine country!
Now Bumgarner Wines are a local name; their Tempranillo wine being a customer favorite.
The winery draws customers from Sacramento, the Bay Area, travelers en route to
South Lake Tahoe, and guests from as far as Australia.
Local restaurants, such as Heyday Cafe, carry their wines.
This is all beneficial to spreading the word about the El Dorado region.
It's a community bursting with wine.
Enjoy the view on your Bumgarner wine jaunt!
To browse my other visits in the region, visit my California Foothills Page.
Eric and Emily Hays, owners of Chate'au Davell, sat down with me for a chat in the winery's shady outdoor lounge and shared about their winery. They made an impression on me. Warm and easy going, the Hays make people feel welcome.
A journey into wine is often a series of events. For Eric, he first worked in restaurants and supper clubs. He then started working in the tasting room at Lava Cap Winery, working his way up to trying his hand at winemaking. Now, as winemaker for his Chate'au Davell wines, Eric's perspective, from the soil to the glass, is thoughtful.
Likewise, Emily's eco-friendly values are striking, and something she's brought to the union. She shared the story behind the tasting room and decor—all the items are re-purposed items, vintage pieces, or up-cycled pieces. The eclectic, casual décor of the outside lounge invites guest to kick their feet up and enjoy a flight or bottle of wine.
Emily's ethos on stewardship of the land and resources is demonstrated beautifully in the winery. She seems to care not just for her own family, but for others as well. Emily takes the family ethos of being a humanitarian a step further. She makes sure their bottles are made of recycled glass from California, and uses recycled paper for their labels. Other items purchased have been made in the USA. If they have to source items from out of the country, she seeks Fair-Trade products. Emily said, “It may cost more now, but buying cheap will cost us more in the long run.”
Eric shared, "The goal is to get out of the way of mother nature. Wine is made in the vineyard.” The Hays practice biodynamic farming methods with their organic Estate grapes. The wines are unfiltered and unfined, so the wines have a pleasing texture to them and are more natural. Here, tasters can enjoy wines with no dyes or chemicals added. Sometimes people avoid wine because it causes them to have headaches. But you won't find additives in Chate'au Davell's wines. They have many loyal fans since the wines are clean. Guests and friends have said they don't experience headaches with the Hays' wines.
On the Estate vineyard, the couple's Southdown sheep roam through the vineyards. Too small to reach the vines and grapes, the sheep fertilize the vineyards and eat the weeds, promoting healthier grapes. Eric and Emily then donate the wool to sewing guilds, and also use the wool—which is pest resistant—to insulate the wine cellar. The Hays also have a farm which grows over 40 types of heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables which they sell in season at the tasting room.
The feeling of family and nurturing are a warm theme. The winery is named after Eric's mother, Davell. Eric's favorite wine is his “Green Man” Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The picture is a self portrait and a nod towards being thoughtful stewards of the earth. Compatible, the “Gaya” red blend is a painting of Emily and Eric's tribute to mother earth. I think it also mirrors Emily's determined, yet gentle thoughtfulness with all that she uses and does.
As winemaker, there is variety to Eric's job. From field pruning, to being in the cellar, to time with guests. Every day hold something new to do. And he told me he loves what he does!
Eric is an artist, and the artist at the winery. You'll see paintings of their children, Charlotte and Auguste, along with other family members gracing the walls and the images decorating their wine bottles.
Being a smaller, boutique winery, Chate'au Davell's wines are unique.
Eric doesn't have to appeal to the masses.
The Hays can personalize their wines and surroundings, leaving an impression on guests.
The mood is lite and fun at the tasting room,
laid on a foundation of caring for our land and the world.
Rounding it out, my attention was captivated by the art and beautiful images,
and the kindness of their family.
A toast to your artful tasting jaunt in Camino and to those you love,
For more wine tasting in the Chate'au Davell neighborhood, visit my tasting at Via Romano Winery.
Join me at California Wine