The sign on the Leoni Farms tasting room said closed, but I decided to call anyway. I had stayed in Sutter Creek overnight after some winery appointments. Having 24 hours off before getting back to family life was a huge treat. I hadn't been to Sutter Creek or the Gold County foothills since I was a child. Those memories were filled with my parents driving from one vintage-antique store to the next. It was hot and I was bored. I didn't get it.
This visit was a chance to see the area through my adult eyes. Now I get why my folks liked driving
around the winding, sloping roads. It's beautiful. Their interest in vintage-antique shops now makes
sense to me. But today, it was raining. More like pouring. Temperatures were in the 40s, not the high 90s, but it was glorious. Sometimes I need to get out of the Bay Area to be reminded it's a big world out there. And being in this small, quaint town was a good reminder of that.
Back to the call.
Leoni Farms owner and winemaker, Jon Campbell, answered his phone--on his day off--and offered to come down and open the tasting room. But Jon's done this for others. He said once he ran into a local resident at the post office who wanted to pick up their club wines and Jon opened up the tasting room for him. He also opens up the tasting room on Wednesday afternoons for a group of gals who come in for their weekly book club meeting, drink Leoni wine, and to stock up on their weekly case of wine.
Really, if you want to taste Leoni Farms wines, you have a good shot at it!
Jon is 5th generation local, and his wife's family is 6th generation. Located on Main Street, the tasting room is housed in a building that's been continuously owned by one family since 1858. Inside, you'll notice the high ceilings, the long, narrow room, the low lighting and historic feel to the space.
His winemaking philosophy...Don't over-barrel. Let the fruit and wine be. Don't over-handle. He echos the sentiments of many winemakers I meet. Go for lower alcohol, less oak, and more acid in the wines. His wines are definitely more acidic. Maybe more acid than I go for. But I can respect his goal, and found wines to my liking.
He shared that over-alcoholed wines can't hold well or age, and are too heavy to serve with food: giving the example of how Port is served for dessert, and not with a meal. His sentiment is wine is something to enjoy together with others, and with food.
More about Leoni Farms wines:
For the tastings...
Jon takes a lot of pride in his wines, particularly his blends. He can do whatever he wants with them!
And he's decided to make foothill wines focusing on Italian varietals,
as well as budget friendly every-day wines.
The red blend was sold out so I didn't get a chance to try it.
I think his white blend is one of the best I've had, especially in that price range.
In fact his blends are so popular, many of the locals come in and buy a case of wine each week.
In the Bay Area, we can eat almost any kind of cuisine there is.
But trying new wines also stretches the palate and can remind us it's a big would out there.
Even in a small town like Sutter Creek.
Here's to your tastings,
For a look at a small but excellent winery, check out my visit to Rexford Winery, Santa Cruz.
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