Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fenestra Winery - Friendly and fun in Livermore Valley

Fenestra Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Livermore Valley. When it first opened in 1976, by then San Jose State chemistry professor Lanny Replogle, there were only 5 wineries in Livermore Valley. In 1980 Fenestra moved to the century-old George True Winery building on Vallecitos Road. That old building adds to the charm of Fenestra with the feel of a rustic barn – yet on the roof is a brand new solar power system providing 80% of the winery’s power needs!

With the widest variety of wines I have seen at a tasting room; plus friendly, knowledgeable tasting room staff who obviously love their job and their wines; in a charming old building loaded with barrels and yesteryear signs; and surrounded by countryside that is a blend of old country, yet new developments nearby, results in a wonderful joyful afternoon of wine tasting. The tasting room staff makes you feel like you were just invited to their family gathering and treat you like old friends as you enter the door. The low table with their wines scattered about makes you feel like you are with friends versus the typical high bar separating you from the servers.

During my visit to Fenestra they had 21 wines on the tasting menu plus 2 additional new releases that were being served. A designated driver is a good idea for your visit to Fenestra. Besides the standard varietals you expect at most wineries, Fenestra has an interesting selection of not so common wines. Portuguese varietals such as Alvarelhao, Verdelho and Touriga; plus Torrontes and Malbec normally found in Latin America are on the tasting menu at Fenestra.

Their 2008 Torrontes, from the Silvaspoons Vineyard in Lodi, was a pleasant surprise. Torrontes is normally found in the high elevation vineyards of the Mendoza and Salta regions of Argentina. With a mild intensity of lilac, peach and melon aromas on the nose, your mouth is greeted with a dry, light, crisp, refreshing burst of apricot, peach and melon that gives an appearance of a touch of sweetness. While lacking some of the steely finish I have found in the higher elevation wines, this wine is a bit more fruit forward than many in Argentina.

The Fenestra 2005 Alvarelhao, also from Silvaspoons Vineyard, is a little known Portuguese varietal normally located in the Douro region of Portugal. This red wine is very fruity on the nose and palate, offering flavors of spicy plum and raspberry with good body leading to a long finish. I can imagine this wine paired with roasted chicken or turkey with plenty of spices.

The 2006 Touriga is an award winning wine with a bouquet of plum, raspberry and rose and presents you with full bright flavors of plum, raspberry, black cherry and spice. This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Cao, all grapes that are found in Portuguese ports. This wine is perfect for a summer BBQ!

And save room for their delicious dessert wines where the friendly staff pairs sweet Viognier with lemon cookies and Port with dark Belgian chocolate!

Visit Fenestra Vineyards during your next visit to Livermore Valley and enjoy a truly worldwide tour of wine with friends. The tasting room is open Friday through Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m. They are located at 83 Vallecitos Road, right on Hwy 84 coming from I-680. They have only recently added a $5 tasting fee that goes towards purchase of wine. This is the best $5.00 you can spend! And if you think they have a wide variety in the tasting room, join their wine club, the Fenestra Fanatics, for an even wider selection!

For more info: Fenestra Winery

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