Some years back while visiting family in Redding, CA I had the pleasure of discovering and visiting a small family winery just outside of Redding, CA called Matson Vineyards. I know, not a big surprise, me visiting another winery – right? Yes, I love to visit wineries of California and I enjoy visit wineries of all sizes. However, the smaller family wineries hold a special place in my heart. Why? Because of the generally relaxed atmosphere, and at the same time a real energy and passion in the air. You can sense it as you listen to the owner and often the winemaker as he tell his or her story or simply just getting a conversation rolling on why he, or she loves making wines. The winery I am referring to produces between 1,200 and 1,300 cases of wine each year. The main vineyard is 4.5 acres of vines with two additional locations not to far from the winery.
Chardonnay can be a bit of a chameleon. In making that statement it becomes clear that Chardonnays can be bright, crisp and lean, or big and buttery. This grape and the wines it produce can be so many different things yet the same grape and so susceptible to suggestion. So, if a winemaker goes for rich ripeness and lots of long bathing in oak, this agreeable grape goes along for the big and buttery ride so to speak but is just as agreeable to go the crisper and leaner too! Generally, the made in stainless steel and unoaked style is crisper and leaner and often depending on the soil of the vineyard of the fruit used you can detect a taste of stone, perhaps a flinty flavor along with some apple and melon.
Jim Mirowski, winemaker, and owner of Treasure Island Wines has achieved with his 2017 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley a delightful crisper and leaner Chard. This Chardonnay was made in stainless steel fermenters with just a touch of oak.
Let me introduce a genuinely nice GSM with a little “V” on the end. The wine, Le Jardin Rouge – 2015 Capay Valley This blend was produced by Moseley Family Cellars.
Capay Valley is a rural valley northwest of Sacramento in Yolo County California. This California AVA is about 102,400 acres region in size and borders Napa County, Lake County and Colusa County. Actual vineyards planted are about 25 acres. Some excellent fruit comes from this AVA and you will find a few wineries such as Cache Creek, Taber Ranch and Capay Valley Vineyards. This little AVA produces Tempranillo, Merlot, Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese and Petite Verdot. Moseley Family Cellars has selected for this blend Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier wine grapes. The blend is 55%/33%/10% and 2% respectively for their 2015 Le Jardin Rouge.
The primary grape in this blend, Grenache (gruh·naash) is a dry, red wine that is typically full-bodied and interestingly light in both color and tannins. Grenache produces wines that are loaded with strawberry, cherry, blackberry, purple plum and in the richest examples, even cocoa, black tea or licorice.
Next is Syrah and it often carry flavors of black cherry, black pepper, blackberry, plum, bell pepper, clove, licorice, espresso, and dark chocolate.
Moravia Wines is a Central Valley Winery located in Fresno California and is the subject of our First Video Wine Review called Zip Sips
Westbrook Wine Farm – 2007 Mariposa Count, Cabernet Sauvignon
Ingredients: Cabernet Sauvignon
Nose: earthy deep and rich
Taste: dark cherry for the fruit, hint of chocolate or mocha with just a hint or leather.
Character: Full flavored, fleshy and well-structured
Cellaring: good for a few more years if cellared but my last bottle will not last that long.
Alc. by Vol.: 14.5%
Personal note: While my favorite from this boutique winery is their Flagship wine, Fait Accompli, this wine has flavors of dark cherries, dark roses, chocolate, truffles, cedar, and Cabernet sauvignon fruit.
Tasting notes: smooth, well-balanced
Suggested pairing: Grilled ribeye steak
Westbrook Wine Farm is a vineyard and winery in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of eastern Madera County, California, near Bass Lake and Yosemite National Park. Westbrook’s mountain vineyards are planted to field blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Gros Verdot and Carmenere. The Krause’s, Ray and Tammy, practice sustainable farming and minimalist winemaking and make their wine in the traditional Claret style by co-fermenting grapes, rather than by making separate varietal wines and blending them. Their Flagship wine is their Fait Accompli includes six and our Museum, three of the eight red varieties permitted for use in Bordeaux or Meritage style wines.
FӒSI - 2003 Syrah
Ingredients:Organic Syrah Grapes
Nose:Black cherry, plum, and toasty oak
Taste:Black cherry, sweet spice, and plum
Character:Full-bodied with ripe fruit flavors, integrated tannins, and a spicy finish
Food Pairing:Beef, lamb, stews, and gourmet pastas
Cellaring:While ready to enjoy now, this wine will age well few more years
Alc. by Vol.:14.1%
Westbrook Wine Farm – 2004 Fait Accompli
Ingredients: California Boudreaux Blend – Field Blend
Nose: Wonderful bouquet that evolves as it waits for your enjoyment in the glass
Taste: I hope it is sufficient to say this is a California Boudreaux blend that will give some of the best French Chateau’s a run for their money. Think of , Lynch Bages
How well do you know your customers? Do you know them well enough to know what they want? Or is it more along the lines that we tend to think we know what they want?
The average wine sale in a California wine tasting room is around $70-$80. While the average sale in the private session tastings, whether it be wine club members, or first-time visitors that request private tastings average $300 or more than those in the tasting room. So, it is simple, right? All you have to do is get as many people into private tasting sessions as possible, right? Not necessarily! These amounts just mentioned are the average sales amounts in the different two venues - but what if you were to include non-sales visitors? What would the true number be if you included every group of visitors instead of just those that bought wine while tasting? I don’t have such data to share, but I would be willing to bet that the average sale in the tasting room would be much lower.
The amount from the private session might be a little lower but not likely as much as the regular daily or weekend tasting room traffic. Why do I say that? Those that choose to pay the higher price of a private session you are probably going to find are more affluent to begin with and can afford to buy more wine, or perhaps even purchase futures on vintages to be released later. One thing to keep in mind is the experiences between the two groups and how they are different as is the level of service given.
(Picture- Courtesy of Russian Ridge)
Today it is pretty clear that beverage to customer business is stacked incredibly so, to the really big wine, brew and spirit industries. Their dominance in the industry leaves little room for so many of those passionate with their dreams and desire to produce quality wines, beer and other spirits. It can be a lot of work to scratch out a living doing what they love to do best.