I’ve decided that I love having wine snobs as friends and family, it has allowed me to discover some great wines that I would never have heard of! Most of the wines you can’t find at or local wine shop. In fact, a few weeks before my trip, I went to Total Wine with my list of the 20ish wineries that I was going to tour. I handed my list over the to the wine guy and asked where I could find them. He said we have TWO- Cayman and Joseph Phelps. I didn’t understand until NOW why that was … if you sell to a distribution company- you lose a lot of your profit. It’s hard to give that up if your a small winery and don’t plan on making 70k cases of wine each year.
Today I headed up the mountain to start my morning at Viader. This winery was literally designed and built by hand by a woman. It’s an amazing but LONG story, I won’t bore you but just know that her wines have been getting high ratings for year and she knows how to use dynamite! Plus, she has been on the Top 100 list for International Wine Makers! The setting at Viader is like a national park. Flowering trees, blooming flowers, grass, and sage– how I miss fresh sage. I miss taking a small branch in my hand and rubbing the light, bright green leaves between my fingers and that smell. You don’t even have to put it up to your nose to smell that light floral but earthy scent. I digress Viader- great red wines, amazing wine cave AND an amazing story!
Next up I hit a small family owned winery called Chateau Morlet. I think my cousins order quite a lot of wine from them because one of the owners, gave me the tour!! About seven years ago, the Morlet’s bought the land and several buildings (stone house, garage etc.). The stone house where the tasting room is now, had been a winery back in the late 1880’s and then when prohibition started it they closed. About a year after they bought the place, they started to hear stories about the original winery and that there were caves on the property- SOMEWHERE. Literally like a treasure hunt they searched. (They have had a company come in and take aerial views, another company take “X-rays” through the soil to see if they could see where they caves would be … none of that has worked.) Last year, they hired a genealogist to trace the family history of the original winery owners and found a 95-year-old grandchild of the originally owners. He excitedly filled them in on WHERE the caves were. I know you want to know where the caves are, right — you’ll have to go visit Chateau Morlet and find out! They have a variety of great wines and they were all really good! I didn’t get to taste their chardonnay because it’s all SOLD out! I did taste their white burgundy which I was surprised by, it was great, not too sweet. ps: Luc, the husband/winemaker is French!
I have enjoyed driving through each of the small towns and have tried to take the roads that are off of the main HWY, so I can really see how the locals live and see all the amazing landscape. Spotswood was my next winery and the family house which is featured on their bottles was built in the 1800’s. Because they are tucked in neighborhood they are limited to how many tastings they can do per day. Spottswood is different in that they have been organic for decades. They plant mustard and root vegetable seeds in each row to provide nutrients for the soil. The will till those back into the ground once they have bloomed with the help of a sweet horse. When the horse gets tired, the send their 3 goats out to help. The also use bird feeders to attract birds who will help with any small rodents. My group sat down at a lovely large table in their new tasting build and began to try each wine they offered. This one I actually hesitated before I spit it out in my ole, Starbucks cup! Did I mention that they love labs! Oh yes, 3 big black labs run through the vineyards each day and then when they tire out they mosey back to the main house and chill in the pool. It was really funny to watch and thankfully we weren’t close enough when they SHOOK! Speaking of shaking- I learned that I should decant a younger wine, because it will help open it up. And when I say shake — the wine person literally shook the wine until it “foamed” in a decanter. I am going to try that at home. (If you have an aged wine, you gently pour the wine into the decanter right before you serve it.)
Great wines go with … just about anything.
Drink up then Bake on! I’ll be ordering from all 3 of these places!