Last week I had the privilege meeting Craig Becker the General Manager/Director of Winemaking and Viticulture for Somerston Wines. Craig is one of the founding members of Somerston and his education is in plant physiology, hydrologic science, enology, and viticulture. He oversees all aspects of the business from viticulture, winemaking, sales and marketing, and finance and business development (basically a very busy man and I feel privileged that he took time to meet with me). After speaking with him I could only imagine a beautiful winery with lush vineyards and exquisite lands that I wanted to visit.
To start off with, Somerston has over 1600+ acres of land and over 200 acres in vineyards. The fruit from Somerston has been purchased by some of Napa Valleys most renowned winemakers including David Ramey, Heidi Barrett, David Phinny, and etc.
Their winemaking facility has many high-tech attributes including new proven technologies like CO2 heat pumps, non-glycol based refrigerants, the first process waste anaerobic bio-filter in Napa County, that delivers clean, pH adjusted processed waster with over 90% BOD (biological oxygen demand) removed, and solar power. The carbon neutral cooling/ heating and hot water system is one of the first of its kind in use at a winery in the United States.
One thing that you can experience is the off-road vineyard experience. Your tour begins with a wine specialists that guides you through the vineyard property visiting the vineyard blocks where the estate wines are grown. After the tour, you will enjoy a tasting of limited production estate wines paired with artisan cheeses from the patio that overlooks the vineyards. (This is on my list of things to do this summer.)
STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT BLOG WHEN I TALK ABOUT THEIR WINES…
This past Saturday was Open That Bottle Night. I’d forgotten about it, until I saw a bunch of tweets on Saturday night. OTBN asks that you take that special bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion, and just open it. No occasion is ever special enough, right? I’m particularly bad at hanging onto wine for a special occasion, so OTBN is a good exercise for me, and I never regret it.
Last year we opened a Staglin Family 20th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon. This year, we dived into my Pinot Noir collection. Every year I find some small little Pinot Noir vintner and invest in 3 bottles. I know 3 bottles isn’t a lot, but it is to my pocketbook. Generally these pinots aren’t cheap. Last year, when I met Adam Lazarre and fell head over heels for his Hahn wines, I knew I’d found my pinot investment for the year. Adam, in addition to his winemaking responsibilities at Villa San Juliette, also has his own label that is exclusively pinot noir. I immediately ordered my 3 bottles.
2005 Lazarre Pinot Noir Sierra Madre Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley
~$40 (I can’t quite remember), special ordered from The Party Source
This particular pinot, of which there were only 112 cases made, is from Santa Maria Valley. Santa Maria, considered part of California’s Central Coast, is one of the state’s coolest grape-growing regions and offers one of the longest seasons between bud and harvest. It’s a superstar region for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Maybe it’s because I have a “wine crush” on Adam Lazarre. (Leave me alone. I can still have crushes.) But I’ve always found his Pinot Noirs to have a bit of sex appeal, and they do tend to send me reeling into hyperbole. This bottle was no exception.
It’s a bit young and would benefit from some more time in the bottle. That’s fine with me, considering I’ve got two more bottles maturing in my basement. It also would have benefited from some air. Since I remembered OTBN at the last minute, we pretty much opened and poured at 10 pm on Saturday night. So with our first taste, the wine was still a bit tight. That said, it was still enjoyable, with a lot of earthiness. Our first night with this wine made me think of the Latin dances I learn in ballroom. They are all sexy and just this side of wild, with all of the passion starting at the earth and working it’s way up to the hips.
The next night we finished the bottle and it had taken the time to open up a bit. Why do I think I still need to age the other 2 bottles? Because even on night two, this pinot was a bit wild and untamed. It lost a bit of the earthiness and instead was silky, like the perfect lingerie. To continue the ridiculous analogy I started above, our second night with this wine was more like an Argentine Tango, a dance that started in the bordellos of South America.
Adam’s wines seem to affect me on an emotional level. As many wines as I drink, that really doesn’t happen very often. It’s also why I’d give my left arm to afford the Morton’s wine dinner next week, featuring Villa San Juliette.
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