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...
Winemakers gathered to pour and chat about their Monterey County wines.
Georis Wine. Greg Freeman, Winemaker
Explore these seductive wines.
The table was busy, the line of tasters was long. And no wonder.
Georis crafts Bordeaux varietal wines with estate grown fruit from the Cachagua Valley
area of the Carmel Valley.
The three pours of the day were:
Albatross Ridge. Garrett Bowlus, Winemaker
Pet Nat is quickly coming back into wine fashion and is an enticing alternative to Champagne.
The lightly, bubbly, fizzy wine is fresh, approachable, and a wine to enjoy on the deck.
Yet the hint of yeast gives it the elegance to serve during the holidays.
2018 Rose' Pinot Noir Petillant Natural a.k.a Pet Nat, : Estate grown, Monterey.
J.Lohr Vineyards and Wines
Valdiguie', a red varietal to add to your repertoire.
2018 Valdiguie', Arroyo Seco Monterey, estate fruit.
Michael of J. Lohr Wines shared that the Valdiguie' grape is a cousin to Gammy,
sharing earthy flavor characteristics..
Bright flavors and good acid on the mid-palate make for an appealing wine with flavors
of fresh pomegranate and hints of flint.
This wine could be the poster-child for the color “garnet-red” in the dictionary,
or for you design people, the next Pantone color of the year.
A Rose' of its own.
Caraccioli Cellars is known for its sparkling wines, but its Rose' was a stand out in the crowd.
2018 Rose' of Pinot Noir Escolle Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Enjoy hints of lemon, pineapple, and soft watermelon.
Dry, with just a hint of sweetness; sunset blush in color
A local Cabernet for your local foods.
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Grown, Monterey: flavors of dark cherry and
raspberry are balanced with soft oak, along with hints of spice and green pepper.
Ruby in color.
The generous tasting pours gave me a chance to sip this wine and with food.
It's versatile and would pair will with blackened salmon, lamb, or steak.
I. Brand Family Wines
La Marea...True love.
Vince from I. Brand Family Wines was pouring a Cabernet Sauvignon.
But this time, it was their La Marea 2018 Albarino that caught my attention.
With a nod to the mineral and flint often found in Sauvignon Blanc, this white
varietal evoked feelings of the first of Spring, early mornings, fresh grass and leaves.
Thank you, Monterey County Vintners & Growers, for the invitation to cover the 2019 Winemaker's Celebration! For more on these wineries visit montereywines.org/
Chalone Vineyards. Gianni A. Abate, Winemaker
Wines from an intriguing region.
While Chalone Vineyards crafts beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, their Grenache is just as enticing.
2016 Grenache, Chalone Vineyard, Estate Grown Heritage Vines, Chalone Appellation.
This wine offered hints of salinity that begged to be served along side paella or cioppino.
Shale Canyon. Keith Prader, Winemaker
Coastal-influenced Tempranillo with just the right balance.
2014 Tempranillo, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.
The Arroyo Seco area is an ideal growing region for Tempranillo.
It offers heat but is close enough to the coast to keep the grapes from getting too hot.
This Tempranillo is tannic, dry, dark, and lightly syrupy (but not jammy or too sweet.) Enjoy cherry, and spice in this medium-body wine.
A Pinot Blanc to remember
2017 'Il Campione' Pinot Blanc, Carmel Valley, estate fruit.
This lightly acidic white wine gives way to soft florals on the palate,
then to a slightly toasted sweetness similar to roasted marshmallows.
Pair with grilled shrimp or dishes with toasted hazelnuts.
Lepe Cellars. Miguel Lepe, Winemaker & Owner
Don't just think dessert wines for dessert
2016 Petite Verdo, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County.
Today I made two new friends.
Miguel's Petite Verdo, along with a dark chocolate, fuggy brownie. The perfect match!
Think out of the box, and try wine with your dessert.
Sometimes dessert wines can be too sweet, or the flavors may compete with a dessert.
So instead, look to dark reds and creamy white wines to pair with chocolate, nuts, fruits, and cheeses.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards. Josh Pierce, Owner & Winemaker
I'll be back for this Cosecheiro blend!
2016 Cosecheiro, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County: a thoughtful blend of Tempranillo, Malbec, Touriga, Petite Verdot, and Souzao.
I'm always intrigued with Josh's Iberian varietals,
and the chance to expand my notions of local wine.
This wine is smooth with soft acidity and back tannins that make it
inviting on its own—or a companion to a meal.
Monterey County Wines have a good thing going.
They are one of my favorite 'go to' regions.
Always offering flavor, consistency, and that something amazing.
Be sure to check out Wine Enthusiast magazine, June 2019 page 59,
for their shout-out to a handful of Monterey Winemakers!
Cheers to your summer wines ventures & tastings!
For a few tips on wine care, visit my feature on Wine Closures...Keeping a Lid on It
No apologies, and no excuses. That's what I think is characteristic, and comes to my mind, of Joyce Vineyards. Russell Joyce is winemaker of Joyce Vineyards in Carmel Valley. He approaches his winemaking with intention and his own unique style.
Russell prefers his grapes to be pick earlier in the season than many of his peers do. Wines from 2016, and on, are barrel aged in neutral oak. No new oak is used. These factors keep the wine more delicate and fresh in flavor, and lower in alcohol (typically 14% or less.) The wines offer a lighter mouth feel, and don't tend to be heavy or full bodied.
I can picture Joyce wines pairing well with Coastal warm-weather foods, such as fresh crab and sourdough bread, lemon marinated chicken, grilled lamb chops, or grilled veggie kabobs.
Rafael Perez, manager, shared about Joyce Vineyards' beginnings:
Russell Joyce, and father Frank Joyce, spearhead the brand and the wines. Joyce Vineyards was established in 1988. The back of the Joyce family property was sloped, so they decided to plant grape vines to retain the land. The vines matured, grapes grew, and the family started making wine in their garage as a hobby. Russell grew up with family friends in the wine industry. There would be races to see who could pick the fastest during local harvests. Russell took over production in 2012, and the family still takes care of the original small family vineyard.
Carmel Valley is a destination spot, Rafael reminded me, with an abundance of wineries and tasting rooms. With so many options in one place, it helps promote the local wine business and brings in guests instead of taking away business. “Carmel is a small community and we all know each other. There's an open friendship with others in the wine community.” He also shared that it's not a secret—how to make wine. I can see how a cohesive outlook makes a place to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
For the tastings:
This has the fresh, clean hints of a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, on the nose.
It's fun and offers some tart Jolly Rancher green apple in the back of the cheeks.
My favorite part of the Joyce branding is their logo. It reminds me of the classic 1960s Cadillac insignia. The wine bottles, décor in the tasting room and production site all bring guests back to the Joyce line, in an appealing way. The labeling on the bottle is straight forward, and the varietal and region are easy to read. This is appealing to tasters, especially those new to wine and wondering what they're trying.
*The Carmel Valley tasting room has a great vibe to it, with music,
outdoor seating, and a Members Patio.
*There's even a large casual-chic dining room with seating to host
an intimate event, or celebration.
*Feel free to bring your four-pawed friend. The patio is dog friendly.
The staff cheerfully went out of their way to supply water for a thirsty canine guest.
*The wine production takes place in their Salinas warehouse.
There's room for winemaker gatherings, forklifts, and memorabilia.
*You can find Joyce wines at the Carmel tasting room, restaurants, and beverage shops.
They distribute in the Bay Area, Fresno, and Los Angeles.
Standing in the tasting room, guests can easily see their options in the Joyce line of wines.
Enjoy a taste of the region with wines made with grapes from: the Santa Lucia Highlands,
Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, and Monterey County.
The Joyce team works with local winegrowers to personalize their fruit.
They can tell the growers what they want: from when the fruit is harvested,
what kind of yields they're looking for, to the flavor profile they're desiring.
After your tastings at Joyce Vineyards, feel free to meander in the cozy town of Carmel Village.
Wine fans can enjoy a visit at Joyce for a quick pop in, for an afternoon, or
turn it into a vacation including dining and lodge nearby.
Here's to trying new wines in Carmel, and your own wine jaunt in the Village!
For more wineries in the area, visit my Monterey County Wineries page. Cheers!
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