Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ruby Hill Winery - History and great wine in Livermore

Ruby Hill Winery history goes way back to 1887 when it was founded by John Crelin. The original solid brick building stood out as a gem of the Livermore Valley. The area was named Ruby Hill for its bright red soil. John Crelin constantly produced the finest wines in the area. The winery has gone through many owners in the last 140 years. John Crelin’s son Charles took over after John died and sold the winery to Ernest Ferrario n 1921. In the 1970’s it was sold to Southern Pacific Railroad.

In 1975 Stony Ridge Winery was established in the building. The original structure survived over the years until the heavily timbered building met its demise on November 8, 1989 due to a suspicious fire. Only the walls remained standing, and remained there for another 12 years until it was demolished in 2002. The new Ruby Hill Winery was rebuilt on the same spot in the same style as the original. In 2008 Ruby Hill Tasting Room moved into their new location on the corner of Isabel and Vineyard next to the Casa Real Event Center. The Mitchell Katz Winery is now located in the old building.

The philosophy of Ruby Hill Winery is to produce world-class wines of the highest caliber from Livermore Valley and surrounding California coastal regions. The wines are hand-crafted in small lots. As winemaker Chris Graves says, “Although I may try to maintain a particular style from vintage to vintage, I treat every wine differently with respect to its own personality, and treat it with tender loving care.”

Winemaker Chris Graves grew up in the Sierra Foothills and knew at an early age of 16 that winemaking was his future. He eventually went to U.C. Davis and earned his degree in enology. After graduation he went to work for Wente winery moving up to assistant winemaker and later winemaker at Tamas Estates, a brand owned by Wente. He then moved on to be the winemaker at Ruby Hill Estates in 2007. His experiences and education has taught him about the quality of the terroir in Livermore and the production of quality hand-crafted wines.

Ruby Hill’s 2007 Grapeful Red is a celebration of all things enjoyable. It is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Barbera, all barrel aged for 18 months prior to bottling to soften the wine. On the nose you will find intense fruity aromas of dark cherry and blackberry jam, with hints of violets and vanilla. In the mouth you get that same dark fruit of cherry, plum and black raspberry. During a visit to the tasting room you will see the staff wearing their tie-dyed shirts announcing Grapeful Red! This wine pairs beautifully with an aged Manchego cheese. Manchego is named for the Spanish region of La Mancha, home of Don Quixote. It is produced from sheep’s milk and has a black gray or buff colored rind with crosshatch pattern. The aroma of the cheese suggests lanolin and roast lamb and the flavor is a mild, slightly briny and nutty flavor.

The 2007 Dolce Amore (Sweet Love) Petite Sirah/Barbera Port Blend is aged one year in oak casks to allow the wine to soften, while maintaining the fruity character. The winemaker made this a pure bliss; the flavors are reminiscent of black cherry, plum and cocoa. It pairs well with a creamy blue cheese or a rich chocolate dessert.

Other wines that particularly stand out are the 2007 Livermore Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Rosato Livermore Cabernet, 2007 Livermore Sangiovese, 2007 Grapeful Red blend of Zin, Petite Sirah and Barbera and the 2007 Livermore Chardonnay Reserve. Stop by their beautiful new tasting room at the corner of Isabel and Vineyard, surrounded by their vineyards.

For more info: Ruby Hill Winery

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