Friday, June 26, 2009

Tenuta Vineyards in Livermore Valley

Tenuta Vineyards is more than your average Livermore Valley winery. Founded in 2002 by winemaker Nancy Tenuta, it has grown to be the third largest winery in Livermore Valley, producing over 25,000 cases of wine. Such growth is not only due to Nancy’s fine handcrafted wines but also her vision to offer custom crush facilities for smaller wineries in the area, barrel storage and vineyard maintenance services and a beautiful Tuscan style facility for events, parties, weddings and more!

As a custom crush facility, over 100 different labels are produced at Tenuta and it provides Nancy access to some excellent grapes from around California. Nancy and Rich Rollins, Operations Manager, invited me for a tour of their facilities and barrel tasting of their 2007 Petite Sirah from Woodland. Nancy discovered these fine grapes through one of their custom crush partners. She knew that the flavors and quality of these grapes would make a fine addition to Tenuta’s portfolio of wines. The rich dark fruit flavors really showed through and I look forward to experiencing this wine when it is released.

Their latest adventure is the chance for budding wine lovers to own a row of grapes. Yes, you can have your own little vineyard, even tending the vines, picking the grapes and learning why great wines start with well managed vines. Only 30 rows are available and five varietals are offered: Pinot Gris, Tempranillo, Primitive, Malbec and Nebbiolo. This “own a row of grapes” partnership is an example of the vision Nancy has for Tenuta Vineyards.

Nancy Tenuta is involved in all aspects of the operation and is usually available to greet weekend visitors. Her hands-on style includes meeting with visitors, making their Tenuta time a joy while learning more about their evaluation of her wines. As Nancy says, “Give us 30 minutes and we’ll be friends for life.”

Rich told me that, “Nancy built this facility on the principals of vision, fortitude and diversification to meet her goal of making Tenuta a memorable experience.”

Her 2003 Estate Pinot Noir is the epitome of her skills in producing quality handcrafted wine. Only 100 cases were produced of this fruit forward wine. On the nose the bright aromas of cherry and spice stand out. As you taste this wine, the cherry and spice flavors with a touch of vanilla come forward combined with a smooth mouth feel proceeding a long lingering finish.

The Tenuta 2005 Livermore Reserve Zinfandel is aged in French oak for 4 years and is rich in raspberry, blackberry and boysenberry flavors. The round tannins are a pleasure on the palate leading to a finish that seems to last forever. Only one barrel (approximately 25 cases) were produced and bottled early this year.

Tenuta Vineyards Tuscan style tasting room is open Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. They are easily accessible from around the Bay Area. From San Jose take the Highway 84 East exit just north of Sunol the then turn right at the first stoplight, Kalthoff Common. Follow that pleasant country road for about a quarter mile to Tenuta Vineyard on the right. Plan on spending some time there sampling a selection of their wines either in the expansive tasting room or the friendly outdoor patio. The knowledgeable tasting room staff will be glad to help you decide which wines you will enjoy!

For more info: Tenuta Vineyards

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