In late October 2022, I visited Youngberg Hill in Oregon’s McMinnville AVA. It is a gorgeous 50-acre property with a historic inn atop the hillside, surrounded by astounding views and meticulously farmed, organic and biodynamic vineyards planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.
Fast forward to 2022. Villány is the primary red wine region of Hungary, which is becoming increasingly well known for producing its signature wine, Cabernet Franc, thanks to the area’s sub-Mediterranean climate, loess and clay soils, and innovative producers who are making Villányi Franc in a variety of styles.
Lutz, an Oregonian, began his career in Napa Valley in 1984, when he developed a taste for wine shortly after college. He worked at several well-known wineries, including Robert Mondavi. It was at Mondavi where Lutz and the Mondavi team would participate in staff blind tastings led by Robert himself.
During a rare chilly and rainy, late-spring day, a friend and I stopped to taste the highly rated wines at Lula Cellars, a small producer in the cooler and foggier “Deep End” of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.
Story Winery in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley has a long – and yes, storied – history. Its tasting room is a restored bunkhouse from the Gold Rush era built in 1860. The estate vineyards date back to 1894 – a .75-acre block planted with Mission – along with its Picnic Hill Vineyard, 6.75 acres planted with Zinfandel in 1896, and its Creekside Vineyard, 7.5 acres also planted with Zinfandel in 1936.
In 2012, Rob had been making wine for the likes of Mark Aubert and Jayson Pahlmeyer when he took a chance and made 125 cases of his own Napa Valley Pinot Noir employing native yeast fermentation, which has since become his signature style.
When Bill Nachbaur was a second-grade student in Vallejo, California, his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied, “I want to be a farmer.” Little did he know his dream would come to fruition in 1990 in the form of purchasing, farming, and making wine from certified historic vineyards in the Russian River Valley, whose original block dates back to 1890.
Co-owner, winemaker, and head brewer Elaine St. Clair and co-owner and president Laina Brown founded St. Clair Brown Winery in 2010 and the brewery in 2018. After decades of working for other companies, they asked themselves, “How do we want to spend the rest of our lives and career?” The result is downtown Napa’s combined organic culinary gardens, urban winery, and nano-brewery.
The Sierra Foothill Wine Fest Wine Competition, sponsored by the Greater Folsom Partnership, began as a passion project of Mike Owen of Crystal Basin Cellars in El Dorado County, to spotlight the Sierra Foothills as one of California’s up-and-coming wine regions. Photo: Elizabeth Smith
Dr. Robert Sinskey, founder of Robert Sinskey Vineyards, was a forward thinker who envisioned the popularity of healthier, locally farmed, and global cuisine accompanied by a lighter-bodied red wine, Pinot Noir. In 1982, he purchased a farm off Las Amigas Road in Napa Valley – before the establishment of the Carneros AVA and in anticipation of his retirement – to become a Pinot Noir grower.
Suisun Valley, recognized as one of California’s earliest AVAs in December 1982, is an exceptional area in which to grow and make Petite Sirah. If one travels to Suisun Valley from Napa using what locals call the backroads over Mount George (bonus: avoiding Highways 29, 12, and Interstate 80) and enters via Suisun Valley Road, there is a sign in front of Vezér Family Vineyards’ Blue Victorian Winery declaring, “The Petite Sirah Capital of the world.”
The historic vineyards of Contra Costa County, located about 45 miles east of San Francisco, California, are nearing extinction due to urban sprawl. However, with devotees like fourth-generation wine grape farmer Tom Del Barba, winemakers like Matt Parish, and vineyard consultant, farmer, winemaker and outspoken advocate, Julian Erggelet, the hope of survival remains.