Friday, October 21, 2016

There are safe wines and there are Wines of Danger

At the Wines of Danger tasting held at Mission Rock Resort recently, I met 18 hardworking individuals who have set their goals in achieving their dream as a winemaker. Over the years, this reporter has run into many winemakers who have the passion but lack the marketing sense that achieving this goal requires people to actually purchase your wine.  And here in California, particularly Northern California, the competition is huge.  There are almost 4300 wineries in California according to the Wine Institute.  How do you make your wines stand out from the other wineries?  The winemakers of the Wines of Danger are impressive in that they do realize what is necessary to meet that challenge.  Whether it is the varieties they choose, the appellations, winery name, wine brand name, promotion, or the right representative, each of these winemakers are taking the steps towards making their wines stand out!

The winemakers in the “Wines of Danger” realize that hazards they are facing but are willing to face the danger to achieve their passion.  In many cases the winemakers already are winemakers for other larger wineries, or they have a “real” job where they make money so they can then spend their weekends and evenings crafting their wines, or they have an understanding working spouse to help put food on the table while they pursue their passion.  But in several cases they are succeeding and the winery is their sole source of income as the try to grow their business while meeting their financial requirements.

Each of the wineries at Wines of Danger showed the quality that can be produced by small winemakers with a passion for their craft.  

Mikami Vineyards – The Mikami family emigrated from Japan to California in 1896, and have been growing premium wine grapes in Lodi ever since.  This grape growing tradition was only interrupted once by the family internment during WWII.  Now as they go into the second century as grape growers, current owner Jason Mikami, a high tech veteran, is putting in the hard work, passion and perseverance necessary for success.  He has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast as a “trail blazer” in artisan winemaking.  His wines have earned multiple 90+ point scores from Wine Enthusiast as well as awards from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  The 2013 Mikami Vineyards Zinfandel exhibits aromas and flavors of ripe red fruit with a complexity of spices and a toasty note.  I won Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  The price is $39 per bottle.

2880 Wines
2880 Wines – This is a family owned and operated adventure with mom, dad, son and two daughters producing about 600 cases of Napa Valley wine with the help of winemaker Peter Heitz.  The name is from their address of 2880 Foothill Boulevard in Calistoga.  This family has a passion for the wine and the Napa Valley, focusing on Rhone varietals.  The 2013 Twenty-Eight Eighty Red Wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah grown in their “Backyard” estate vineyard.  There is a beautiful complexity to this wine with a mixture of aromas and flavors of both fresh red berries and dark fruits, combined with spices, tea and even a bit of citrus rind.  

Cuvee Wine Cellars
Cuvee Wine Cellars – Paul Rogerville was a business man and owner of a successful construction company who developed a passion for wine experimenting as a home wine maker.  This passion took him away from the construction business to become a full-time vintner opening Cuvee Wine Cellars with his friend Patrick Smith who is his winemaker along with Thomas Pitchon.  At the Wines of Danger tasting he showed us several of his wines including a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cab.  One that really stood out was the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Oak Knoll Vineyard in Napa.    

Stephanie Trotter Zacharia
of Trotter 1/16 Winery
Trotter 1/16 Winery – Owner/Winemaker Stephanie Trotter Zacharia has been living and working in Napa Valley for over 22 years working vineyards and tasting rooms until in 2011 with the help and encouragement of friends, she started making her own wine.  She is one of 16 children of the Trotter family and the only winemaker, thus the name of the winery.    Her 2013 Trotter 1/16 Winery Cabernet Sauvignon is an exceptional wine and exhibits all the qualities you expect for a Napa Valley Cab.  You will enjoy the aromas and flavors of black fruit including black cherry and blackberry, with a nice mixture of spices and a layer of orange zest.

Other members of Wines of Danger include Blair Estate, Calstar Cellars, De Tierra, Halcon, Idle Hour Winery, Odonata, Onesta Wines, Peoples’ Wine Revolution, Poundstone Wines, Scratch, Tedeschi Family Wines, Three Clicks Wines, Vinemark and Waxwing.
Idle Hour Winery
Odonata Wines
Blair Wines
Three Clicks Wines
Peoples Wine Revolution (PWR)

For more information:  Wines of Danger
Vinemark Wines
Tedeschi Wines

Winemaker Sabrine Rodems
Scratch Wines
Onesta Wines
De Tierra Winery

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