Carmel is always gorgeous. In the spring, the fresh green grass rolls over the hills and meets the cypress, pines, and oaks that decorate the hills. Folktale Winery and Vineyards looks a bit storybook-Carmel-ranch style. Walk through the archway draped with coral colored passion vine. Step into a story of beauty and California-casual hospitality punctuated with service.
"Welcome! Would you like a glass of sparkling wine?” Hmmm. Tough decision. (Not.) Upon arrival, guests are offered a VIP welcome and a glass of sparkling wine. That's a good start in my book! The sparkling wine would be enjoyed later as I was meeting David Baird, head of winemaking.
Folktale makes a line of wines under their Folktale label, as well as Rhone varietals under their Le Mistral label. The mistral winds blow in France and are part of the growing condition of Rhone wines. Grapes for Folktale's Le Mistral wines also grew with the touch of mistral winds in the vineyards.
David manages the vineyards on the Folktale site. Also, during the harvest season he daily makes the one hour drive to Folktale's Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards to manage the harvest of the Estate line of grapes. He's worked with his vineyard team for three years, personally training and educating them in the why behind vineyard practices, promoting ownership in the vineyards versus following a work script. Encouraging and appreciating the staff builds them up and improves the quality of the fruit.
The focus is on Monterey County fruit that's grown in hot to cool pockets of weather, giving David the world to work with! He'd much rather his wines be bright and acidic, and European in style. This is perfect considering the winery is less than six miles from the Pacific's cool coastal influence.
When you're enjoying a glass of Folktale wine, you can almost taste the story behind the wine. Most of the fruit is harvested at night or in the early morning. This guarantees the grapes are at their peak for maturity, acid, sugars, and desired flavors. Most of the wines are not fined and few are filtered to let the flavors shine.
A Folktale is an oral story that changes over time. Each bottle of wine tells a story as well. It tells of the soil, weather, the grape varietal, and of the winemaker. As winemaker, David Baird is very hands-on with his wine. It reminds me of a father, or the story-keeper in a village, making sure all is well and the development and narration of each wine stays on course.
There's a good synergy here between the superior quality of the wine and food, the event venues, and the romantic quality of the setting. Folktale caters to meeting the needs of guests and locals alike. The property can accommodate wine tasting and small bites for two, or wine and food for 1,000 guests.
Being good stewards and showing respect for the land is another chapter in Folktale's story. 300 years ago Native Americans lived on the Folktale site. Today, Folktale practices good stewardship with
eco-friendly owl boxes, raptor perches, vineyard ground cover, and primarily organic and dry-farming practices—saving 650, 000 gallons of water the first year!
For the wines:
I'm a bit of a book nerd. Every noteworthy story has a good plot and is laced with creativity to keep the plot engaging. Folktale's plot and common them is the quality of their boutique wines and guest services. Creativity flourishes because David has carte blanche to make wine the way he thinks best. He's working on a Pet Nate, often uses whole cluster fermentation including his whole cluster Syrah, and is making an orange wine this year. A new mechanical basket press will be used for their SLH Pinot Noir.
I had the chance to talk with Chris Whitman, director of business development and marketing. He shared how an experience at Folktale all starts with the first greeting. The wine is first and central, then the food. Pairing good food with good wines, the staff can walk guests through the whole experience of the wines and the fresh food pairings prepared by Chef Tod. (no outside food, please.)
*A special Thank You to the Folktale team for the thoughtful tour and tasting, the light lunch, and the lovely bottle of Santa Lucia Highlands 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir. For more on their wines and venues, visit the Folktale home page (link.)
The trust and freedom given to the staff stands out. The marketing team, event staff, hospitality, and winemaking team have room to add their style and talent.
The richest books have the most diverse and fleshed out characters.
Folktale strikes me as a place where the staff can weave their own story, within the larger story.
From the sparkling wines as you enter, to the staff who genuinely look like they're enjoying themselves, the plot is set. Guests linger and don't want to leave. Outdoor games dot the lawn for kids or those young at heart. Meals or small plates can be enjoyed in the dining areas, or at the outside picnic tables. It's easy to lose yourself in a truly great story, and it's easy to lose yourself here at Folktale Winery.
At some point, you'll have to leave and go home. But you can always return.
And you can take the Folktale story home, in a bottle of wine or via Club membership,
open it up and enjoy it again at home.
Best to you as you weave your own story at Folktale Winery.
For more on the region, visit my page on Monterey County Wineries.
Join me at California Wine