Archive for the Travel Category
I first became aware of Julie Johnson’s Tres Sabores label back during Zap 2003. At that time, they were making quite a splash by operating on the novel model of producing three Zinfandels made by three different winemakers (Karen Culler, Ken Bernards and Rudy Zuidema ), all from the same fruit source. The wines were, by all accounts, quite good, and also quite distinct from each other.
Who might have guessed that, in southern Mendocino County, Cabernet Sauvignon is being produced from vines that came from cuttings originally sourced at Ridge Vineyards’ Jimsomare Ranch. As unlikely as it may sound, it’s true, and while it’s not intentionally kept secret, you probably would never know unless you happened to stumble upon the Rosati Family Wines website or had chance to communicate with Allan Bree aka califusa, who discovered this little known fact during his tireless investigations of all things Ridge.
The Rosati story is a fascinating one. Mario Rosati is a lawyer, and his very first client was Ridge Vineyards. He would go on to serve on Ridge’s Board of Directors for 15 years or more, and became good friends with many of the principals there, including David Bennion. As Mario’s practice grew, he and his wife Danelle bought a 1,500 acre property just across the county line from Sonoma; you literally turn right off the freeway to access their sprawling property. While visiting the Rosatis, Bennion suggested that Cabernet Sauvignon might grow well at the higher elevations, and, in 1987, cuttings from Jimsomare were planted and continue to thrive on Mario’s favorite hilltop setting, at around 900-950 feet above sea level. Read the rest of this entry »
The idea of producing wines from Rhone grape varieties in California was by no means new when Tablas Creek released their initial offerings more than 10 years ago. People like Steve Edmunds and Randall Grahm, to name only two, had already been doing so for years before that, but one had to think that something good would result from a collaboration between the Haas and Perrin families, given their many years of involvement in the wine trade and production. To be honest, I didn’t much care for what I tasted from that inaugural 1997 vintage, but they got it right very soon after that, and by the time I first met Tablas Creek General Manager Jason Haas in the fall of 2006, they were hitting on all cylinders. Read the rest of this entry »
Five appellations, with six appointments in fourteen days. That was our calendar in late April through early May, and we couldn’t have asked for a finer return to California wine country for the first time since 2002. We decided right from the get-go that we were going to do it right this time; no exhaustive three of more appointments per day, and not even one appointment every day. We were going to enjoy ourselves, take our time, see some of the state and concentrate on a select group of producers, two of whom were new to our experience and three with whom we were very familiar.
Our travels took us to Napa Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Mendocino County, Paso Robles and the Santa Cruz Mountains. On off days, we simply toured or renewed acquaintances with old friends like Allan Bree, Frank Joyce and John and Pat Wolf. And of course, there was never any lack of good food and wine, as we’ve already detailed with recent blog entries.
Our site visits were all marvelous, and included appointments with John Olney at Ridge Lytton Springs, Julie Johnson at Tres Sabores, Mario and Danelle Storm Rosati at Rosati Family Winery, Jason Haas at Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paul Draper at Ridge Monte Bello and Sean Thackrey at his barn… OK, it’s REALLY Sean’s office-auxiliary storage facility outside of Bolinas and equipped with a kitchen many would envy.
We made extensive use of the video camera, and indeed, some of our reports could have stood on that footage alone – candid as they are, but there are always anecdotes and tasting notes to be included.
Our trip report begins in reverse, with accounts of our last two visits, with Paul Draper and Sean Thackrey. We met with the two of them just a few days apart, and couldn’t help but be struck by the differences in style and technique of these two otherwise brilliant winemakers. Subsequent reports will follow individually in quick succession. Read the rest of this entry »