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".
Pierce Ranch Vineyards' tasting room is within slingshot distance to Cannery Row and
bucket list hotels right on the Monterey Bay.
I've had the chance to taste there a few times, but was eager to pick up some wines again.
The Iberian varietals are a welcome change from the California rinse-and-repeat varietals you often see. These wines are terrific on their own or with food.
Just before the SIP, I messaged Josh and let him know I was in the area and
hoping to come by for a tasting.
He pinged me, and fast forward, there was a glass of Pierce Ranch wine in my hand
as my husband and I were chatting it up with his amazing staff.
Owner, Josh Pierce, is often sharing and pouring his wines at
Monterey County Vintners & Growers events, such as: trade tastings, winemaker tastings, and more.
His tasting room is a relaxing place to savor the wines and enjoy a leisurely chat with a friend.
While I've featured Josh's wines a way back, I do love the chance to taste current vintages.
Here's a look at my tastings.
While we're waiting to get back to the tasting rooms, Pierce Ranch Vineyards (Link) can be found online, with available curb-side pick up.
Health to you and yours!
Do you have wine questions during SIP?
Or do you wish you had your own wine guide?
CalWineJaunt.com offers Personalized Wine Consulting for your shelter-in-place wine needs.
Wine is meant to be shared.
It's the liquid for celebrations, community, and for gathering with friends and family.
I want to acknowledge that all of this has come to a screeching halt.
We all are, to some degree, dealing with Covid-19.
Some are instantly without work. Others are on the front line.
And hopefully, all are making efforts to shelter in place for everyone's health and safety.
It's difficult to be separated from our loved ones and experience this much change at once.
For a piece of bright news, Bay Area wines are, thankfully, still available. At this time, wineries are not allowed to be open to the public for purchases in the tasting room or wine tasting on site.
But winemakers are being creative and resourceful in an effort to keep their businesses--
and to keep sharing their wines with tasters.
If you're still in a place to purchase wine and enjoy it, now is the time.
For a list of wineries and their current offerings and shipping, visit the following links.
The specials will likely vary and change as needed.
Wineries of Santa Clara Valley
The site currently lists their winery options for delivery, curbside, shipping, and specials.
Visit Santa Clara Wines.
Monterey County Vintners & Growers
Find wineries in Carmel, Soledad, and Monterey. Contact the winery directly for current offerings.
Visit Monterey County Wines.
Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrower Assoc.
Find a listing of pick-up, delivery, and discount options by winery.
Visit Santa Cruz Mountain Wines.
Health to you and yours in this time, and a few words of comfort...
God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
'Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!' Psalms 102:1
Blessings to you,
Travel from the comfort of you home and snag a few ideas from this Home-Tasting of 3 Reds...
Join me at California Wine