Great Wines from Family Wineries featured at San Francisco Event

The Family Winemakers of California annual tasting in San Francisco is a first-class tasting event, focusing on the many good wines that come from small and medium sized wineries. I tasted dozens of wines and recommend the following.  Most are available directly from the winery, some are available in wine shops, and a few sell out quickly – so don’t delay ordering if these sound good to you.

Diane of Auriga
Diane Stading of Auriga Wine Cellars poured their 2010 Zinfandel among other wines.  This wine, made from El Dorado County grapes grown on 35 year old vines on the ridge of the Sumu Kaw Vineyard near Placerville, features an intense fruitiness.  It is big and bold and juicy, well balanced with bright notes and good acidity.  The flavor also had notes of Bing cherry, with deep grape flavors, nice spices and pepper tones along with vanilla and oak on the finish. “This is one of my finest zinfandels,” said the winemaker. 15 per cent alcohol. $24/ bottle.

Larry of Frog's Tooth, left,
pours for a taster
Another nice Zinfandel made from El Dorado grapes, in this case the Gold Hill Vineyards, is the 2010 Zinfandel from Frog’s Tooth Vineyards, Murphys, CA.   15 percent alcohol.  $26/bottle.

Marilee of Urban Legend
Marilee Shaffer of Urban Legend Winery poured a 2010 Dolcetto made with grapes from the LBS Ranch/Lava Cap vineyards near Placerville.  Aroma of black cherry and plum, and cherry flavor dominates. There’s a bit of red raspberry flavor too, and on the finish a tad of mocha and hint of almond. This 2010 Dolcetto, of which 125 cases were produced,  sells at $25 a bottle. 14.6 percent alcohol.

Suzi of Vino Noceto
Suzy Gullett of Vino Noceto, Amador County, poured the 21st vintage of their Sangiovese, made in a Chianti style. Flavor is fruit forward cranberry and cherry character, and a hint of chocolate. Highly versatile with food, and lauded as the best Sangiovese in California!  14% alcohol.  $18.

C. G. DiArie featured their new Summer Breeze, an El Dorado blend of Zinfandel, Primitivo and Barbera.  This wine was served chilled  “on the tap” via a  bladder system within the barrel developed by Chaim Gur-Arieh, a well known food scientist.    A huge hit with consumers at the tasting, and although to date Summer Breeze is only available in the keg-with-tap system, I suspect it will be in their regular wine offerings soon.

Jana Harvey of Scott Harvey Wines

Jana Harvey of Scott Harvey wines, Amador County and Napa, poured their 2010 Zinfandel from Ancient Vines, the “1869”.  This Amador wine is a briary zin with flavor of deep blackberry, fig, pomegranate, and violets. The hint of coffee and currant make it truly delicious.  14.5% alcohol, $45 the bottle.
This review first appeared in my Wine Time column in The Tahoe Weekly on September 4, 2013.

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