Wrath, the small-production Santa Lucia Highlands winery with the dramatically cool label is assumed to be named after the Steinbeck novel, The Grapes of Wrath, set in nearby Monterey. It works, but the true story is that owner and wine director Michael Thomas was driving to the winery early in its inception and heard the Led Zeppelin song “Going to California” that contains the lyrics:
Seems that the wrath of the Gods
Got a punch on the nose and it started to flow;
I think I might be sinking.
Throw me a line if I reach it in time
I’ll meet you up there where the path
Runs straight and high
If you visit the tasting room at the winery or the one at Carmel Plaza (next to the famed Carmel Cheese Shop), they will even play the song for you. But Wrath’s website may say it best:
“Wrath is in the wall of maritime fog that rolls into the Salinas Valley and the relentless afternoon winds that scream through our grape trellises. Wrath wines represent a nexus of nature and an unbridled passion for winemaking”.
Wrath has a funny female winemaker who brings winemaking to life. Although the brand is heavily into experimenting with different Pinot Noir clones, Sabrine Rodems, is real and direct and explains wine with passion and simplicity. She and Thomas try through dozens of barrels each vintage and choose which blends the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. She jokingly mentions they have to re-try many the next day because the later barrels all get “smiley faces” as they get more inebriated through the day!
The Thomas family’s 72-acre San Saba vineyard is responsible for the majority of the wine production, including some of the single vineyard offerings, and sits in a sheltered and fog-laden nook at the base of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The vineyard surrounds the winery and enjoys a gorgeous view of the surrounding area.
The winery’s Ex-Anima line of wines include tasty Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc presenting incredible values for under $20. The Pinot Noir and Syrah are equally values at less than $30.
The Winemaker Series represents exquisite Chardonnay and Pinot Noir clone blends that demonstrate how different clones work in the SLH. I adored the aromatic and fruity Swan/828 Pinot Noir and the earthy, cherry Destruction Level Grenache.
The Single Vineyard Series draws form the winery’s own San Saba vineyard as well as the renowned, high elevation Doctor’s Vineyard and the Boekenoogen Vineyard (yes, the real name of a local family), a former dairy farm that has found popularity for their lush Pinot Noirs.
Michael Thomas is an archaeologist and professor who has two current digs in Italy. His love of history and Italy’s vibrant food and wine culture prompted him to cultivate the unique but yummy Falanghina, a crisp white with a cluster that represent a penis. Sabrine demonstrates the enormous size of this cylindrical grape cluster (about 14 inches) and we can only point out that Falanghina is not the shape of any human penis….but more like a zoo animal.