In our previous article we raved about Picayune Cellars and Flying Goat Cellars. But we tasted pinot noirs from eleven — count them — eleven wineries making pretty good pinots.
That’s a testimonial to cooperation and education among winemakers and educators. Kudos to U.C. Davis, Fresno State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Sonoma State for educating generations of winemakers.
Eleven wineries is too much for one review. We’re going to write them up and post as time permits. Today we’ll look at Vino Vargas and Windsor Oaks. This review is two more from Pomona: Windsor Oaks, Vino Vargas.
After tasting a few pinots and not finding anything we liked, we decided to calibrate our palates. Luckily, Pedro and Vicky Vargas were there. We’ve written about Vino Vargas before and headed over to their table to see if the southern California air had screwed up our tastebuds.
Thankfully, that was not the case. Their 2012 Russian River Valley “Rio Ruso” ($45) was a delight. With 30% of the vintage aged in French oak, Pedro and Vicky are still making great pinot noir. The wine opens with aromas of strawberry and cherries with just a hint of earth. The palate is more cherries with a silky tannins on the finish.
We arrived early enough to chat with Vicky for a few minutes. Vino Vargas is apparently doing very well. We learned that Pedro is a U.C. Davis graduate. Vicky has a credential from the French Culinary Institute. She is a qualified sommelier. And, from their website, they have occasional wine club pickups in Los Gatos! Convenient for us bay area folks.
We were greeted by Bruce Krueger who poured us tastes of Windsor Oaks’ two pinot noirs. Both were 2012 Russian River Valley, but one was a reserve (10 cases produced).
The non-reserve pinot ($28) opened with aromas of black cherries, rose petals, and an earthy undertone. On the palate there was cola, spice and tannins leading to a long finish.
The reserve ($35) needs some bottle time to develop. Aromas and palate were flatter than the non-reserve. “Juicy” was the best description we could come up with, with hints of oak and vanilla. Buy half a case and open one bottle a year starting in 2017.
Windsor Oaks is a 20 year project of Bob and Renee Stein. The winery is located east of U.S. 101 in the town of Windsor (about halfway between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg). But the vineyards extend west beyond Sebastopol. The Steins own the 700 acre estate, of which
… approximately 350 acres have been deeded to the Sonoma County Open Space District and are designated ‘Forever Wild.’ The remaining 250 acres are uniquely situated in both the Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill appellations, representing two of the most recognized growing regions for outstanding quality wine grapes.
In fact, the address of the winery is actually in the Chalk Hill ava. The Steins put the wilderness area in the middle of the property with the vineyards around the edges:
Bob and Renee partnered with Doug and Julie Lumgair when the winery was started. Doug is still the estate general manager. Julie was the winemaker through the 2011 vintage when she decided to relax a bit.
But not to worry. Her replacement, Margaret Davenport, previously worked at Clos du Bois and Passalacqua. We have fond memories of her Passalacqua zinfandels.
The 2014 vintage will mark Margaret’s 35th crush. She’s only been with Windsor Oaks since 2011, but her wine already speaks for itself. A lab apprenticeship in 1980 began a long, critically-acclaimed winemaking history.
Margaret is assisted by Sabrina Prati. Sabrina has wine in her veins. One of her first memories is ridinga vineyard tractor with her father. With her BS in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, the year 2013 was her eighth harvest.
Douglas Lumgair is the Estate General Manager. Doug has been a partner in Windsor Oaks from day 1. Today he keeps it all running.
We were excited to discover Windsor Oaks and (indirectly) renew our acquaintance with Margaret Davenport.