It's not very often that people can combine their work and their passion. Often our hobbies and vocation don't intersect. But Gary Robinson has the rare privilege of combining his love of cycling, winemaking, and appreciation of Santa Cruz Mountain (SCM) varietals all into one.
It started as a hobby. In '08, Gary planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in his Los Gatos backyard. He apprenticed at nearby Testarossa Winery for a couple of years, and took classes UC Davis. An avid cyclist, he often rides through the SCMs. Richard Hanke, his Left Bend business partner, is also a fan of cycling and has cycled toured across the U.S.
Cycling the SCMs offered Gary the chance to see vineyards draping the mountains and understand the local growing climate. He prefers the acidity and tannins characteristic of wines from the region, so he decided to focus his effort and wine style on SMC varietals.
Now, Left Bend produces eight wines, roughly 100 cases of each, a year. The production site is in San Martin, and wines are sold through the wine club and tasting room. The tasting room is easy to find; on the main strip of Los Gatos, flanked by shops and restaurants, with off street parking. It's a central location for many Silicon Valley residents and visitors.
Left Bend makes regional classics, like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They have a Riesling on the way, and are crafting a Pet Nat from Vanumanutagi Vineyard grapes.
They also produce a blend they call Mashup, which is made in the Solera method. It's a blend of wine varietals and vintages. But the vintages are added in stages, or fractions. The first year, Cab and Syrah from Gary's backyard were made into wine, blended, and aged 28 months. The second year, a quarter of that wine was bottled, the remaining 75% was left in the barrel, and new wine was added. (Similar to a bread starter, you use some now, and reserve some as a base.) It offers the structure and smoothness of aged wine, along with freshness and fruit from the new wine.
What's unique to Left Bend...
As I tasted the wines, I could look up and see the names of the vineyards the wines grapes were grown in. But I also saw some of my own local history as well:
Wine flavors and scents can bring to mind memories.
It can also be a starting point for new experiences with family, friends, and new acquaintances.
Best to you and your own touring wine jaunt!
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