Our 5 Favorite California Producers of 2013

DSC_81562013 was a bit of a renaissance year for wine in California. With American writer and columnist Jon Bonné championing the producers of “New California”, many local wine-makers are producing restraint, elegance, and a sense of terroir in their wines. There has been an influx of new blood, with young guns exploring both experimental and old-world winemaking techniques. Finally, we are able to shop in a wine store and buy a bottle of California wine that doesn’t reek of oak, stewed fruit, or buttered popcorn. Instead we can find mineral, forest sap, chapparal, white flowers and stonefruits.

The year has also been particularly kind to me. Having left my technology career in June to launch Winelandia, 2013 has been a year of soul-searching, experimentation, sometimes failing miserably, 14 hour work days, and exploring things way outside of my comfort zone. Trying to find my place in the wine industry has been trying at times, defeating at it’s worst, and absolutely transcendental at it’s best. That being said, I would much rather ride the wine rollercoaster than the tech dump-truck any day.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 2013, I have most certainly tasted more wines than ever before. Colleen and I take every opportunity we can to go to industry tastings and visit small wineries, unearthing every stone we find in hopes of discovering something new to share with you. The most beautiful thing about wine is the sense of discovery and the sheer joy felt when you take a whiff and a sip of a wine that moves you. That’s what we want to share with you, that feeling of pure love. Wine is love.

Below is a list we have compiled of some of our favorite California producers of 2013, in no particular order. Some of them you may recall from your wine club shipments, seen in local wine shops, or read about in articles in the Chronicle. Next time you buy some wine, look for these producers, because we feel they are making some of the best wines today in California.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJolie-Laide Wines
Winemaker: Scott Schultz
Region: Russian River Valley
Style: Scott only makes a handful of wines (so far), but they unusual, thought-provoking, and unique. We have seen a Russian River Trousseau Gris with texture and unmatched complexity, an elegant Syrah from Phoenix Ranch in the cooler part of Napa, and a super-clean summertime quaffer of a Pinot Gris from the famed Windsor Oaks Vineyard on Chalk Hill. The labels for his wine change every year, are as mysterious and beautiful as his wines. He is definitely a winemaker to watch; his wines are quickly gaining cult status amongst wine geeks and are insane quality for the price.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARyme Cellars
Winemakers: Ryan & Megan Glaab
Region: Russian River Valley
Style: Ryan & Megan (a young married couple) make some really delicious, affordable, interesting wines. The style is both experimental and old-world, much like Jolie-Laide (and wouldn’t you know it, they share a winemaking facility). Some of our favorite wines made by Ryme are their Carneros Pinot Noir – a fresh and juicy wine reminiscent of cru Beaujolais, and their skin-fermented “His” Vermentino – a textural and savory skin-fermented white wine. All of their wines are super clean and beautifully balanced. We can’t wait to see what they have to offer next.
DSC_8196AmByth Estate
Winemaker: Philip Hart
Region: Paso Robles
Style: A Demeter-certified (Biodynamic) estate, Philip and Mary Hart planted their vines in 2004. They make wines in a super-natural way, mostly of Rhone varietals. It can get quite hot in Paso Robles, but the location of their estate is directly in path of the cooling coastal winds coming through the Templeton gap. The day-to-night temperature fluctuations can sometimes swing 50F, which preserves the acidity in the grapes. They tend to pick on the early side, so their wines are very unlike any others in the Paso Robles AVA (which are usually very ripe). Very little, if any, SO2 is used in the production of their wines. While they aren’t cheap, their wines are built for the long-haul. They were recently picked up by a well-respected wine distributor, so you can expect to see more AmByth wines in local shops. We highly recommend the Priscus white blend and the Mourvedre.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALa Clarine Farm
Winemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Region: Sierra Foothills
Style: Hank Beckmeyer follows the ‘do nothing’ farming methodology of Masanobu Fukuoka, and his wines scream terroir as a result. Hank works mostly with Rhone varietals, both from his own farm and purchased from other vineyards. I can remember the first time I tasted his Cedarville Mourvedre; that was a wine that changed and excited me. I never knew that a grape which usually produces a rich, powerful, and extracted wine could make a wine with such femininity and finesse. We also love his white wines, which have so much character they can taste totally different from day to day. La Clarine wines are the Everlasting Gobstopper of the wine world, and a crazy good value to boot.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPorter Creek Vineyards
Winemaker: Alex Davis
Region: Russian River Valley
Style: Alex Davis has been quietly making some of the best wines in California for as long as I can remember. This is one of the first wine clubs I ever joined, and for good reason. They make my favorite California Pinot Noir, as well as a value-priced Carignan that is rustic, juicy and food-friendly. We love their Zinfandel, rosé, Chardonnay, Viognier… heck, we love everything they do. Alex spent a good amount of time in Côte-Rôtie, and naturally he also produces a slammin’ Syrah which is co-fermented with a little bit of Viognier, just like they do in the northern Rhone. Porter Creek is very consistent, so it will continue to be an old standby for us.

Honorable Mentions:
Arnot-Roberts
Dirty & Rowdy
Two Shepherds
Deux Punx
Massican
Matthiasson
Hirsch Vineyards
Copain
Wind Gap

 

Day Trip: Point Lobos State Reserve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the past month or so, we’ve had some unseasonably sunny and warm weather here on the West coast. While the dryness and warmth is sligthly unnerving, I look at what’s happening with the weather in other parts of the world and I feel fortunate. We may be having a record-breaking dry spell, but the sunny skies and hospitable temperatures are definitely favorable to tornadoes, typhoons and snowfall. I’m sure you all can agree.

My husband’s birthday came around a few weeks ago, which happened to fall on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. He had some time off, and his birthday wish was to go to as many beautiful places as we could. My mom had been posting some gorgeous photos she’d taken in Point Lobos the previous weekend, so I scooped him up and dragged him all the way down to Point Lobos State Reserve, just past Monterey on Highway 1. It was the middle of the day when we decided to head down there, which meant that we would make it just in time for sunset.

Point Lobos is a little swath of marine biodiversity just south of the hustle & bustle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a popular tourist destination about 2 hours south of San Francisco. Point Lobos has gained the protection of the state of California for plenty of good reasons: It’s a habitat for many endangered plants and animals, and it’s considered to be one of the richest marine ecosystems in California. You will spot sea otters, harbor seals, whales, brown pelicans mid-migration, sea urchins, deer, and many other wild friends. Point Lobos is considered the crown jewel of California’s state park system, and it’s not hard to see why.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have many childhood memories of this place, and I can remember being in awe of all the various little creatures in the tidal pools. Hermit crabs, sea urchins, sea stars, and all manners of seaweed can be found in these pools. This is a great place to take your kids to teach them about marine life (but leave the dog-friend at home – they aren’t allowed here).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s also a photographer’s dream – the Husband and I both brought our cameras and spent the whole afternoon taking beautiful photos to share with you. One thing he and I have in common is our love of photography. I gifted him with a carbon fiber tripod for his birthday, and we wanted to put it to good use. With his new gear, he found many opportunities to capture his birthday moments.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe got tons of photos of little sea creatures, interesting rock formations, ocean waves, and migrating birds. Once the sun was getting low, we packed up and started walking back to where we started from. Right as we arrived at our starting point, the sun began to set and we stopped to get a few more photos before we had to go (the park closes promptly 30 minutes after sunset).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn our walk back to the parking lot, we encountered some VERY friendly deer, who hammed it up for the camera.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you find yourself with an itch to get in the car and go somewhere beautiful, Point Lobos is an excellent destination. You could even take the long route, heading all the way down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Check out this blog post for some sightseeing destinations along the “Slow Coast”. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a sandwich, some water, cash for parking, and your camera. You won’t be disappointed!

Point Lobos State Reserve
Route 1 Box 62
Carmel, CA 93923
831-624-4909

Winter Hours:

8:00am to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Daylight Savings Time Hours:
8:00am to 7:00pm

Recipe: Nobu Miso Black Cod

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Most people who know me know that I am not much of a traditionalist. Although my father’s side of the family was devoutly Catholic and from Eastern Europe (tradition, anyone?), my mother’s side of the family was very much a bunch of rough-and-tumble ‘Mericans from Oakland, CA. I was the third generation in my family to be brought up in Oakland, and as a result I feel that most of the “culture” I have is a mish-mash of old-world sensibilities rooted in the soils of the Bay Area.

So, what does that mean exactly? For one, it means I don’t cook turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s a ridiculous holiday to begin with, and I cringe every time someone wants to go around the table to say what they are thankful for. Come December, my Christmas tree is adorned with disco balls, chickens, and Star Trek memorabilia. I shop for holiday wrapping paper in the Birthday section. My husband is Jewish, so every year we throw a Christmukkah party (although this year, it was Thanksgivingukkah). My point is, we don’t follow any rules, and we have a great time.

Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite Winter dishes. I’ve served it twice as the main course for Thanksgiving. Anyone who has spent T-Day with us and experienced this Miso Black Cod will tell you about the time a crowd of people stood in my kitchen after dinner was finished, picking the leftover scraps of black cod from the serving platter. I made it again this year, but with a more all-encompassing Japanese theme. Turkey can suck it.

The great thing about this dish is the ease of preparation. It may seem fussy (3 day marinade? Searing in the broiler?), but I assure you that it’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s all about patience and technique. The 3-day marinade changes the fish in a way that is hard to explain – it becomes firmer while still being melty, tender, succulent, and other-worldy. I’ve tried to speed it up and do a 1-day marinade, and it really isn’t the same. So give yourself as much time as you can – 2 or 3 days is ideal.

blackcod_freshThe most important thing to consider when making this dish is the freshness of the black cod. You are going to be marinating it for 3 days, and under normal circumstances I wouldn’t touch 3-day old fish with a 10 foot pole. My working theory is that the salt in the miso acts as a sort of cure, slowly drawing the moisture out of the fish. My advice is to get your black cod right from the source (fisherman), or as close to the source as you can. I get my fish from One Ocean Seafood – the owner does FREE home delivery, and if you work with him you can find out what days he gets his fresh-caught local fish on. My Thanksgiving black cod (from Monterey) was caught on Tuesday morning and served on Thursday evening.

Black Cod, also known as Sablefish, is a very oily fish that is not actually cod at all. Because of it’s high oil content, it is difficult to over-cook. This is a great recipe for people who are not normally comfortable cooking fish. We get it locally here from Monterey and Half Moon Bay – buy the local stuff if you can.

Anyhow, here’s the recipe. It’s from Nobu Matsuhisa, a celebrity chef who owns the high-end Nobu restaurant chain. If you’ve ever seen the $30 “Miso Black Cod” on the menu at any Japanese restaurant (many places serve variations on this dish), this is what you’ll get – although yours will be better and much cheaper.

Nobu Miso Black Cod

Ingredients:

For Saikyo Miso Marinade
3/4 c. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/2 c. saké (Japanese rice wine)
2 c. white miso paste (aka shiro miso)
1-1/4 c. organic white sugar

For cod
4 black cod fillets, about 1/2 lb. each
3 cups prepared Saikyo miso

Method:

Make the Saikyo miso marinade

  1. Bring the saké and mirin to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds (this cooks off the alcohol).
  2. Lower the temperature to low and add the miso paste. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  3. When the miso has dissolved completely, turn the heat back up to high and add the sugar.
  4. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  6. Reserve a small amount of the miso marinade for serving.


Prepare the black cod

  1. Rinse the black cod fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Trim any ugly bits from the fillets.
  3. Place fillets into a non-reactive bowl or container and slather with the cooled Saikyo miso marinade.
  4. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.
  5. Flip the fillets once during the 2-3 day marinade.


Cook the black cod (2-3 days later)

  1. Pre-heat your broiler.
  2. Remove the fillets from the container and wipe off the excess miso (but do not rinse).
  3. Cut the marinated fillets into 4-5 oz serving-sized pieces.
  4. Place the fillets skin-side down on a broiler-safe, foil-lined, low-rimmed dish or on aluminum foil.
  5. Place fillets into your pre-heated broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the tops of the fish begin to blacken and caramelize (see photo). Remove from broiler.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place fillets into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the bones from the cooked fish with a pair of tweezers prior to serving, or just warn your guests that there will be small bones in the fish.

That’s it, really! You can serve this with a little bit of the miso marinade you reserved on day 1 on the side. Nobu recommends serving with a stalk of Hajikami, which I have never been able to find commercially (I make my own). You could serve it with pickled sushi ginger instead. This dish is also complimented well with cooked greens such as spinach. The slight bitterness is a nice counter-point to the sweetness of the fish.

As for wine pairing, any white wine with little or no oak would be great with this. I would suggest something with a tiny bit of residual sugar (but not a sweet wine) and medium to full body. Our 2012 Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc comes to mind. It would also be fantastic with Champagne.

Let us know if you have any questions about this recipe in the comments.

Winery Visit: Thomas Fogarty Winery

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Have you spent any time at a vineyard in the winter? When all the vines are laid bare and the geometry is clearly visible? When all the work for next year’s harvest is being done on the inside, and our role is merely to observe? It’s a stark, different beauty from the height of August or September, when rows are heavy with fruit and abundant foliage. But it’s also a reminder of the details that go into a vineyard – the trellises, the cover crops, the spacing between the vines. You can’t see those things when the rows are lush and full and green.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The story of how we wound up climbing around and through the vineyards at Thomas Fogarty is a post-modern one. One of the Fogartys found Tala on Delectable (Do you use Delectable? Find us! Follow us!), and invited us for a private visit and tasting. How could we say no to such an opportunity? Perched 2000′ in elevation up on Skyline Drive in the Santa Cruz Mountain foothills, Thomas Fogarty Winery is a boutique producer of primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Since 1981, they have been making rich, elegant wines from these varietals, and producing small, successful “experiments” with others. They have two properties – the one we visited, and a smaller site further south – totaling around 60 acres planted to grapevines. Together, these properties produce Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay – and there are several vineyard-select or block-select bottlings within the Pinots and Chards especially. Truly, a little for everyone – including the dry and sweet Gewurztraminers that they produce with fruit they buy from elsewhere.

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Tommy Fogarty (Jr., of course) and his wife Lily shepherded us around the property in this here Jeep. If you squint, you can see him just over the steering wheel in this photo! We meandered, climbed, and blazed through vineyards, oaks, and poison oak meadows as we learned about the unique geography of this area. Fogarty is located above the fog in a lot of places, which allows additional ripening, but being so high and close to the ocean, the vines also stay cool in the evenings. It’s exactly what a winemaker wants for his vines. The property is stunningly beautiful; a maze of oak and madrone, with small vineyards planted here and there to catch the sun exposure on the various ridges. Tommy knew the land like the back of his hand – the way you would if you, too, had been raised on that acreage. What a great way to experience the property and get to the know the fruit.

The wines are produced with as little intervention as possible. They don’t use laboratory yeast, and have learned to be patient if a fermentation is slow or gets stuck – as most of the winemakers we know and love, they simply wait it out and let the wine do what it will. They use organic farming methods in the vineyard, and as Tommy said, try to do as much work in the vineyard as possible so they can do as little as possible in the winery. This includes compost tea, a specifically selected cover crop for each vineyard – which helps to add or adjust nutrients in the soil each year, and careful monitoring of irrigation. They irrigate only rarely – and only to make sure the grapes don’t turn into raisins if the end of a season is particularly hot.

If you’re looking for a stunningly beautiful, easy afternoon trip to a winery in the bay area, we highly recommend checking out Thomas Fogarty. And if you see Tommy or Lily, tell them we said hello! And, check them out on Delectable too – it’s always fun to see what industry folk are tasting and drinking.

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Thomas Fogarty Winery
19501 Skyline Blvd, Woodside, CA
Use the directions on their website to guide you – DO NOT trust your phone!
Hours: Monday 12-4pm, Wednesday-Sunday 11am-5pm. Closed Tuesdays
Tastings from $10-$20/person, with free tasting on Wednesdays!

Introducing the Winelandia Fall Lineup

The Fall 6-pack is sold out. Contact orders@winelandia.com if you have questions about re-ordering any of these wines by the case.

We’re very excited to introduce you to the delicious wines in our Fall offering!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn this lineup, we have included some outstanding wines from lesser­-known regions all over California. These are all sustainably produced, food­-friendly wines with a sense of terroir. We wanted to focus on local, artisanal, natural, small-production wines to pair with your favorite Thanksgiving foods and really show you what New California has to offer. We currently only have these wines available to wine club members, and we are almost sold out. Register for our wine club at https://club.winelandia.com if you wish to get in on the action.

Deux Punx 2011 Grenache Noir
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Winemakers: Dan Schaaf & Aaron Olson
Bio: Dan Schaaf and Aaron Olson are the Deux Punx. Living in San Francisco, Schaaf and Olson started making wine at home and the project just ballooned from there. They work with several vineyards in both California and Washington, and prefer a hands-­off, experimental approach to winemaking. Always willing to take chances, Deux Punx are still finding their style and perspective, and we’re excited to be part of that journey with them.
Deux Punx are wine lovers and music lovers, their labels are creative and done by artist friends of theirs, and they definitely think wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not cellared and ignored – that’s how we feel too! We just can’t believe that both of these guys have full­time “day jobs” and families in addition to making and selling this wine. Superhuman!
Region: Lake County
Vineyard: Tejada
Blend: 100% Grenache
Aging: 18 months 100% neutral French oak
Production Notes: Produced from sustainably farmed Grenache grown by the Tejada family, this is a pure expression of warm­-climate Grenache. Native yeasts were used for fermentation and aging was done in 100% neutral French oak to show off what was done in the vineyard. 125 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of ripe red fruits & spice with firm tannins and juicy acidity. This would be a great wine to have with anything grilled, roasted, or barbecued.
Food Pairings: Burgers, grilled lamb, pizza, sausage, roasted poultry, BBQ red meat.

Verse 2012 Pinot Noir
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemakers: Ryan & Megan Glaab
Bio: Ryan and Megan Glaab have been making wine as Ryme Cellars for only 6 years, which is hard to believe considering how good this Pinot Noir is. Ryan is the assistant winemaker at another of our favorite wineries, Wind Gap. They met and fell in love during a harvest at a winery in Australia, and, now married, turned their relationship toward business too. Ryme wines ­and their accompanying Verse label ­are all made from Sonoma county grapes, and seek to highlight restraint and food friendliness. We really think these two have a bright future in winemaking and can’t wait to drink what’s next.
Region: Carneros
Vineyard: Las Brisas
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Aging: 10 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: This bright & fresh Pinot Noir is a blend of two different clones – Swan and Gamay Beaujolais (which is neither gamay nor from Beaujolais). It’s made from 20 year old sustainably farmed vines grown near the convergence of the San Pablo Bay and the Petaluma Wind Gap in the Carneros AVA. The grapes were mostly de-stemmed but 25% were left whole cluster and they were fermented with native yeasts in open-­top fermenters. This wine was aged for 10 months in neutral French oak and bottled without fining or filtration. 290 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of red raspberry, wild fennel and tarragon, rounded out by dusty red clay earth and juicy cherry on the palate. This bright and juicy Pinot Noir has a beautiful texture and will be sure to dazzle on your Thanksgiving table!
Food Pairings: Roasted cornish game hens, duck breast with pomegranate gastrique, aged goat cheese, pork loin, wild salmon.

La Clarine Farm 2012 White Blend No. 1
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: Run by Hank Beckmeyer, La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer sees himself as a guide for the transformation of grapes into wine. Beckmeyer understands that terroir is constantly changing, and everything he is doing to the vines, the grapes, and the land, is changing the terroir – he is trying to keep it as pure and unadulterated as possible.
Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001, and has a diverse lineup, comprised largely of Rhone wines, both white and red. Hank’s laid-­back winemaking approach produces wines with texture and tons of interest – he simply let each wine, each vintage, become whatever it might. Very different from most California producers, that’s for sure.
Region: Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Various
Blend: 47% Viognier, 41% Marsanne, 12% Petit Manseng
Aging: 100% Stainless steel
Production Notes: Produced from organically grown grapes, fermented with native yeasts, aged in stainless steel, and unfined/unfiltered prior to bottling – this is about as real as wine gets. Minimal SO2 used. Only 155 cases of this wine were produced, which means it won’t be around for long.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of white flowers and herbs with tons of mid­-palate richness, medium body and zingy acidity on the finish.
Food Pairing: Roasted game hens, chanterelle & gruyere bread pudding (see recipe), cheeses, smoked meats, fish, Indian food, lobster, salads.

LIOCO 2011 Indica
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: John Raytek
Bio: Started by two sommeliers who wanted to make the kinds of wines they loved to drink, Lioco has developed into a great example of clean, food-­friendly, cool­-climate winemaking. Matthew Licklider and Kevin O’Connor are endeavoring to make transparent wines – wines where the customer knows what goes in, and comes out of the wine. Lioco has only been around since 2005, and recently one of their proprietors took over as winemaker, so we’re looking forward to the next evolution of this label. Their lineup includes the Indica wines, which are food-­friendly, drinkable, and affordable, as well as some single­vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are at a higher price point. Something for everyone!
Region: Mendocino County
Vineyard: Various, Redwood Valley
Blend: 98% Carignan, 2% Grenache
Aging: 11 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: Produced from organic, dry­-farmed, head trained, old vines. 25% whole cluster fermented, and bottled without fining or filtration. Neutral oak aging brings out the best in this wine. This wine will drink beautifully now, as well as age for a few more years. 684 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sour plum, red licorice, and lavender with blackberry, salted plums and orange pekoe tea on the palate. This rustic red wine with medium body is extremely food friendly, so don’t be afraid to experiment with pairings.
Food Pairings: Cracker crust pizza, carnitas, sausages, barbecue.

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Blanc
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: William Allen
Bio: With a name like Two Shepherds, you’re probably surprised to find out that William Allen is a one-­man show. Allen is a longtime wine industry professional, and garagiste (home winemaker), who decided to start a professional winery with an emphasis on Rhone varietals. His first release was only in 2010, but he’s called on many of the great low-­intervention winemakers in California for advice, and it shows in his wine. He works out of a small winery in Santa Rosa, shared with two other wineries.
Allen only works with Rhone grapes, and even planted his own vineyard of Grenache recently. His wines are balanced, with both texture and acid, and really shine with food.
Region: Santa Ynez Valley
Vineyard: Saarloos
Blend: 100% Grenache Blanc
Aging: 80% 7 months sur lie neutral French oak, 20% 6 months in stainless steel
Production Notes: The winemaker aims for long hang­-time with these grapes, allowing for flavors to become more complex while preserving the grape’s acidity. This wine is from a particularly cool site in the Santa Ynez Valley. The wine is barrel fermented in neutral French oak, and then aged on the lees for another 7 months. It is then blended with 20% of the same wine aged in stainless steel, adding freshness and balance. Serve slightly below cellar temperature, do not over-­chill. 125 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of green apples, white peach, orange blossom and honeydew with juicy acidity and elegant minerality.
Food Pairing: Miso­-cured Black Cod, chanterelle & gruyere bread pudding (see recipe), ceviche, grilled chicken, pasta with lemon & spinach.

Porter Creek 2012 Rosé
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: Alex Davis
Bio: Porter Creek sits in a quiet corner of West Sonoma County, with a tiny tasting room and several lovely chickens you can visit and talk to. Winemaker Alex Davis has been profiled by many media outlets, but that doesn’t diminish the understated character and approach that he takes with all of Porter Creek’s wines. Their backbone is cool­-climate Pinot Noir, but Porter Creek produces a variety of other wines as well. The winery and vineyards have been organic for some time, and they are currently pursuing Demeter Certification – that’s the certification for Biodynamics. Davis speaks of being a wine crafter rather than a wine maker, because he feels it implies the minimal intervention approach he takes in all he does.
All of Porter Creek’s wine are consistent in their balanced profile and food friendliness. While each is different, they all possess acid and texture, and even the higher end, single vineyard pinot noirs are affordably priced for how much technique and skill went into their production.
Region: Sonoma County
Vineyard: Various
Blend: 75% Zinfandel, 25% Carignan
Aging: 6 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: Made from organically farmed, head-­trained grapes, this is a rosé for people who love the rosés of Provence and Bandol. Bone dry and balanced with delicate acidity, this wine was fermented 100% whole cluster with 95% native yeasts. 620 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Focused aromas of spice and fruit with a mineral finish.
Food Pairing: Raw kale harvest salad, roasted cornish game hens, salads, pizza, salmon, hard winter squash, wild mushroom risotto.