Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines, Sta. Rita Hills

If life is about the journey, then Dan and Ellen Kessler picked the right road for this chapter in their lives and the path forward looks very promising.  The journey has led them to purchasing prime real estate in the Sta. Rita Hills surrounded by the most acclaimed vineyards in Santa Barbara County and in one of the most picturesque settings anywhere in California.

Kessler-Haak Vineyard is located on Highway 246 in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills - the Shangri-La of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.  K-H counts Clos Pepe, Hilliard Bruce, Huber and Gypsy Canyon as neighbors. Planted in 2005, the 30-acre vineyard features sandy loam soils planted to seven Pinot Noir clones and three Chardonnay clones.

Central Coast Uncorked joined Santa Barbara Wine Talk (Phil Carpenter) on a perfect summer afternoon for a vineyard tour and tasting with owner/winemaker Dan Kessler.  If anyone makes you feel at home and a part of the family, it's Dan and Ellen Kessler.  After our vineyard tour, we were greeted in the backyard patio with a selection of cheese, salumi and fruit, as well as Kessler-Haak's estate wines.

Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines sources Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes to local producers including Liquid FarmDragonette CellarsCarr Winery, and Samsara, among others.  But when you have premium grapes, you might as well make premium wine.  K-H is producing an estate Chardonnay, two estate Pinot Noir wines, Rose of Pinot Noir, Syrah from Turner Vineyard, and a dry Riesling from Lafond Vineyard.

Due to limited production and distribution, Kessler-Haak wines are available at select stores and wine bars in Santa Barbara County and online.  With the increasing acclaim of their wines and that of the producers who source their grapes, Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines is sure to be a sought-after label from the Sta. Rita Hills.

Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines
1700 Gypsy Canyon Drive, Lompoc
(805) 735-2283
By appointment only, Monday-Saturday
Email: info@kesslerhaakwines.com
Facebook: Kessler-Haak Vineyard & Wines
Twitter: @KHVines

Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Blocks, Kessler-Haak Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
Kessler-Haak Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
Kessler-Haak Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fog Crest Vineyard: Russian River Valley's Hidden Gem

It's not in the glossy brochures and maps, but Chardonnay and Pinot Noir lovers have reasons to put Fog Crest Vineyard on the proverbial map as a destination for premier Russian River Valley wines.  Fog Crest Vineyard, located in the heart of the Russian River Valley, spans south/east along a sandstone ridge above the Santa Rosa Plain planted to Dijon clones of Chardonnay and heritage clones of Pinot Noir.

Fog Crest Vineyard is located on Occidental Road, east of Gravenstein Highway (State Route 116) in Sebastopol.  A narrow road winds its way from the busy two-lane road through the estate vineyard to the winery and tasting room set on a slopping hilltop with spectacular views of the Russian River Valley.

James and Rosalind Manoogian purchased their 30-acre property on Occidental Road in 1998 with the intention of producing estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines crafted in the "Old World" style and showcasing the incredible terroir.  Under the direction of consulting winemaker David Ramey and winemaker Daniel Moore, the Manoogian's have received widespread acclaim for their Laguna West and Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.  These superbly crafted wines are a great representation of Burgundian styles and techniques, yet identifiable as a characteristic and elegant Russian River Valley wine.

Fog Crest Vineyard is also completing construction of a new tasting room with sweeping vistas of the estate vineyard and the Russian River Valley.  Once completed, the tasting room will offer visitors a premier location to enjoy Fog Crest wines.  It's all a work in progress; so, the more you buy, the quicker it gets built.

Be sure to visit Fog Crest Vineyard on your next wine country vacation to Sonoma County's Russian River Valley!  These wines are sure to please any palate and compliment your favorite food pairing.

Fog Crest Vineyard
7602 Occidental Road, Sebastopol
(800) 931-2906
Open by appointment only
Email: info@fogcrestvineyard.com
Facebook: Fog Crest Vineyard
Twitter: @fogcrest

Fog Crest Vineyard Winery Road
Fog Crest Vineyard & Winery, Russian River Valley
Laguna West and Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Wines

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Savor the grapes of Wrath

"...and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.  In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage." (Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck)

John Steinbeck's iconic novel of the Joad family's migration west to California depicts the plight of poor Americans during the Great Depression and the ensuing economic and social hardship that trapped millions of people throughout the country.  It's also an appropriate quote to highlight the plight of wine drinkers from monolithic wines to truly hand-crafted wines that represent the best of the terroir, varietal and vintage.

On June 3, 2012, the Rhône Rangers provided the backdrop for my wine epiphany and introduction to Wrath Wines of Monterey County.  The Rhône Rangers Los Angeles Tasting Event featured dozens of wineries from all across California.  It was easy to overlook the table near the entrance to the event at the historic Vibiana when there were some many other familiar wineries in the room.  However, there was a buzz among some of the trade that a winery with a fierce name and edgy label was pouring some of the best Syrah wines at the event.

The epiphany occurred after just one sip.  If there weren't ABC rules prohibiting more than one ounce from being poured in a glass at one time, I would bogart every bottle of wine until my desire for more is satisfied, at which point you might want to call an ambulance.  After experiencing Wrath's Syrah wines, I decided to plan a visit to the winery following my trip to Sonoma County.  I could not delay another week or month the opportunity to experience Wrath Wines.

On a late summer afternoon, I traveled south on River Road and veered right onto Foothill Road to the winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands.  Wrath Wines and the SIP-certified San Saba Vineyard is set on a nook below the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA overlooking the Salinas Valley. For a course refresher (including this wine blogger), the Santa Lucia Highlands is situated along the Santa Lucia Range above the Salinas Valley and across from the Gabilan Range to the east. This cooler climate growing region benefits from its close proximity to the cold waters of Monterey Bay. On the westside of the property sits a late 19th century home moved from Salinas to the vineyard in Soledad.  This bare structure, which is the perfect setting for a horror novel or a Halloween party, is the backdrop for Wrath Wines' label (see picture above and below).

The color version of the Wrath Wines label
San Saba Vineyard

The formal tasting room is spacious and entertaining with large windows and doors that afford spectacular views of the estate San Saba Vineyard.  Outside lies a patio that wraps around the tasting room and overlooks the irrigation pond.  If you were looking for a solitary location to entertain friends and family with superbly crafted wines, then you found the right place.  There isn't much around here, but within the confines of the property, your desire for solitude is complimented with a glass of great wine and scenic views of the agricultural epicenter of California's Central Coast.

Wrath Wines Tasting Room
Wrath Wines Tasting Room

The daring name of Wrath Wines reveals an attitude, passion and inherent respect for producing authentic wine specific to the terroir.  Wrath produces over a dozen clone-specific, estate sourced and/or single-vineyard wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. The quality and craftsmanship of their wines borders on perfection, at least for my palate. When you drink Wrath Wines, you think of the following words: aromatic, complex, layered, opulent, structured and well-integrated.  For the most recent vintage, my favorites include the McIntyre Vineyard Chardonnay, Ex Vite Pinot Noir, Doctor's Vineyard Syrah and Moscato.

Wrath's Single Vineyard Pinot Noir & Syrah Wines

There is no hype about Wrath Wines' growing acclaim.  There is a new mecca for great wine in California's Central Coast and its called Wrath Wines.  Savor the grapes of Wrath...

Wrath Wines
35801 Foothill Road, Soledad
(831) 678-2212
Open Fri-Mon, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Email: info@wrathwines.com
Facebook: Wrath Wines
Twitter: @WrathWines

Carmel Tasting Room
Ocean Ave. and Mission St., Carmel (located on ground floor)
Open Mon-Sat, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Sun 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(831) 620-1909