Barrel Tasting with a Home Winemaker
There is one thing about living in the mountains....there is always something new to discover. This week, matter of fact this day, offered two new experiences.
Earlier in the week, I received an e-mail from someone I have known for a while, but never really spent any time with. He had invited me to his home to try some of his homemade wine. For the last couple years, I had heard that he was growing grapes at his property. As far as I know, he is the only person in our mountain communities that is truly attempting to grow wine grapes in our area. The challenge is the altitude and short growing season. I didn't know what to expect, but really appreciated the invitation, and looked forward to see what our mountain could produce.
Zinfandel and Syrah vines. Normally I have seen both of these grapes bush trained, but they chose to trellis their vines, figuring that this would allow more sun exposure. Bud break had occurred a couple weeks earlier, so everything was starting to green up. The entire setting reminded me of being somewhere in the Sierra foothills.
On the far end of their driveway is the "winery". We walked through what looks like a tasting room, then into a back room filled with barrels, and a long tasting table, that Elizabeth had set with an assortment of cheeses, fruits and nuts. On the back wall, there were racks of bottled wines. The south wall had a number of Hungarian oak barrels, each labelled with the vintage, ph, and grape.
Paso Robles AVA, in the California Central Coast). The wine was light in pigment, and had a pronounced cherry aroma.
Where the fun began, was with the local Zinfandels. This grape variety has a tendency to be all over the place in style, taste and aroma. It also reflects the terroir. We tried two different vintages of Zinfandel. One was spicy, and the other was jammy. The vines are still young (for Zinfandel) and truly reflect the vintage. We also tried Primitivo, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Sirah sourced from Sculpterra. The Syrah was sourced from Saarloos & Son's Windmill Vineyard in Ballard Canyon (the newest AVA in the California Central Coast). We did not try locally grown Syrah. The vines are only a few years old, and still developing.
Currently, Sycamore Ranch and Vineyard is not available for sale. It is strictly shared with friends, and a co-op of family winemakers. But, that may change down the road. Richard and Elizabeth indicated that they may seek to have their winery bonded, and create the first Dart Canyon winery. Since there is no AVA in this area, the wines would have to be labelled as "California Wines". They already have a tasting room, and wine. Also watch for some of Elizabeth's artwork.
What is happening in your backyard?