Michael Perlis: Family Winemakers of California

Per the organization’s website (www.familywinemakers.org): “Family Winemakers of California advocates the rights and interests of its members to freely produce, market and sell their products, and is dedicated to preserving the diversity of California wine.”

Also per their website: “Family Winemakers also assists its members in marketing their wines by organizing three wine tastings each year.  Two are in the Southern California market for consumers and the wine trade (San Diego and Pasadena). The other is our annual San Francisco tasting that just completed its 19th year. The San Francisco event is a two-day event in which consumers can attend the first day. The tastings allow small producers to cost effectively reach the wine buying trade.”

I had the pleasure of attending the most recent trade tasting in Pasadena. With over 200 wineries pouring, there was no way for me to really make a dent in the lineup. Instead, I strolled around, enjoying catching up with some old winery and distributor acquaintances, tasting the latest releases of some of my favorite wineries, and finding a few new gems as well.  I probably spent as much (or more) time talking with winemakers and reps as I did tasting.

Looking over my 68 page program, these are my thoughts about the wines and wineries I enjoyed the most…

Alere Vineyards – Enjoyed tasting through the lineup of this small Rhone-varietal producer from Santa Barbara County. Winemaker and co-owners Joe Haslett was a real pleasure to talk with.

Bradford Mountain Winery – Very tasty Syrah and Zinfandel, including a Zin from their Grist Vineyard, which I am familiar with due to Turley producing a wine from this property.

Carlisle Winery – I’ve raved about this winery before. My disappointment in Mike Officer not being around was somewhat mitigated by the tasty Zins they were pouring.

Cass Winery — Primarily a Rhone producer from Paso Robles. Very nice lineup of wines. Especially enjoyed their Petite Sirah.

Clavo Cellars – Another Paso producer. Owner/winemaker Neil Roberts obtains grapes from some of the vineyards he manages, and the quality of the fruit shines through.

Core Wine Company – Always a pleasure catching up with Dave Corey and tasting through his mostly Rhone line-up.

D-Cubed Cellars – Owner/winemaker Duane D. Dappen has been making these wines since 1994 and was pouring a great lineup of Zinfandel, Primitivo and Petite Sirah.

Dashe Cellars – Ahh, the monkey and fish! Been a fan of their Zins for a long time, and the current releases are no exception.

Ecluse Wines – I’m a big fan of winemaker Steve Lock’s Rhones and Zins from Paso Robles. Looking forward to visiting him soon.

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines – Another Paso producer firmly in the Rhone zone. I especially enjoyed their Syrah.

Enkidu Wine – owner/winemaker Phil Staehle is producing some huge wines in Sonoma. I recently had one of his Petite Sirahs, which was outstanding, so I was very happy to have the opportunity to taste his other wines, all of which I enjoyed very much.

JC Cellars – I’ve been a fan of JC Cellars for some time, especially their Syrah. Definitely enjoyed the two they were pouring at the event.

Lagier Meredith Vineyard – Very small winery in Napa. I’ve enjoyed their Syrah in the past, so it was a real pleasure to taste their latest releases and chat awhile with co-owner Carole Meredith.

Maurtison Family Winery – Another favorite producer. Really enjoy their Zins and Petites, especially from Rockpile. Big wines, but with finesse. (Photo on top.)

Outpost Wines – Outpost was pouring their Zinfandel and Cabernet, both of which were excellent.  I am also a big fan of their Grenache and Petite Sirah.

Robert Biale Vineyards – What can I say? Another great vintage of Zinfandel coming from this outstanding producer.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery – A tasty lineup of very reasonably priced wines from this Clearlake Oaks producer in Northern California. I especially enjoyed their Petite Sirah.

As I look back over my list, I realize that perhaps I focused too much on wineries I am familiar with and not enough on new wineries. But, I really enjoy seeing what my familiar favorites are up to, and catching up with old friends is important to me. And, how much can one do in three and-a-half hours anyway, right?

Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at mcpfinancial@aol.com or michaelthezinfan@aol.com.