The other week I ambled by the Shale Canyon tasting room. It's tucked in a quaint courtyard, as Carmel so often does; so I gave it a go.
Shale Canyon wines are produced by the three Prader brothers, and wine maker Ken Gallegos. The vineyard and production site is nestled in a valley, tucked in the crook of another valley, surrounded by hills in the Santa Lucia region. The vineyard derives its name from its location set in the base of the hills. It receives the rain run-off below the outlet that the locals call Shale Canyon.
Their tasting page describes Shale Canyon vineyards as small lot, off-grid, solar powered. The tasting room has old-style 8x10" photos of how the off-grid philosophy plays out. For one, the seven acre vineyard doesn't need irrigating due to the Arroyo Seco's river ground-water. The shale soil encourages the vine's roots to dig deep to reach for moisture, producing a better grape. The 3 brothers built the structure that's half house and half production facility—with all of it being solar powered. Plus the grape solids are reused as fertilizer and for feeding the local free roaming cows. Lucky cows!
The red wines that Shale Canyon makes are typically warm-weather reds. But since their grapes are grown in the Santa Lucia region, the grapes get a chance to cool down at night, producing wines with a lean and naked taste to them.
They also focus on single varietal, single vineyard. This happens to be the theme of the wines I've lately tasted; giving the taster a wine that signifies what that specific plot of land, the weather, and the grape varietal will give when trio-ed. They reminded me style-wise of wines produced on the coastal side of the Santa Cruz mountains.
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