Choosing a bottle of wine is not always an easy task. Whether you are shopping at your local grocery store, or spend some time in a more focused wine shop, you will be forced to answer a lot of questions while deciding. Do you want a young wine or one that has some age to it already? Perhaps you are trying to match your wine with the meal you are going to enjoy it with. Then you have to decide what is for dinner before you can even begin to match the wine. Maybe your wife said, “I only want a wine from California and please dear, only a red will do.” Well, that in itself will give you a bunch of choices on what to purchase.
But there are certain places around town that make it their duty to help you learn what wines are best fit for your palate. One of those liquor stores is Vine and Table located in Carmel, Indiana. The folks at Vine and Table are always hosting events to help you choose that next bottle. I had the chance to attend a wine tasting not too long ago that was not just a wine tasting but one that was being hosted by the wine maker herself. I had the opportunity to sample a handful of wines poured by Gail Rogers from Shasta View Vineyards.
The tasting was held at Vine and Table in their tasting area right behind their wine cave. The wine cave itself is a cool room to shop around in. Once inside the wine cave you will experience cellar like temperatures as all of the wines in this room demand that sort of attention. Granted, most of the wines in this room are a little more expensive, but still worth checking out while browsing their aisles.
When I first arrived at Vine and Table that night I was confused why there were not more people there. It was the warmest day of the year that day, reaching temperatures near seventy degrees and not a cloud in the sky. But that did not stop a handful of other folks and myself from enjoying some wines poured by Gail herself. She even took the time to speak on her wines and answered a handful of questions of mine. (Think of the artist interviews that I write here on rickyleepotts.com only this time with a winery owner!)
Gail began the tasting by pouring a glass of their chardonnay. This wine, served chilled, was light and refreshing and had an almost oak barrel aftertaste. She would later state that these wines are in fact fermented in oak barrels giving it that smoky finish. She also made mention to the clusters that these grapes come from. The clusters are much smaller than your average grape cluster providing a much more fruity flavor from each grape. The wine did start on the tip of the tongue with a set of fruity flavors.
By the time she was finished pouring the first round of samples, I noticed that each bottle on the counter, which were marked down in price for this tasting in an effort to sell more bottles based on your tasting experience, were all hand numbered. She commented on this saying that each and every bottle is numbered by hand to help the wine hold it’s value, if bought to save, and makes each bottle a limited edition. I thought this was a nice touch.
If you are curious where Shasta View Vineyards is located, look just south of Oregon about fifteen miles and you will find this quaint little winery. Here you will find prime real estate for growing grapes. However, Gail stated that there is little to no competition as they are pretty much the only winery in that area. That is one thing that makes these wines that more sought after.
She also talked about their operation. Shasta View is a self-run family owned and operated winery. Gail and her husband do everything from planting the grapes, picking the vines, and even bottling and shipping this wine. Because of this, and the few bottles of wine they produce each and every year, this wine is hard to get off the bat. But, because of a relationship that Gail has formed with Vine and Table, you can buy any of these wines right here in Indianapolis. It also helps that two of Gail’s daughters live and work in the Indianapolis area.
As I stood there sampling these wines one caught my attention more than the others. I am a huge fan of red wines, but when she poured the 2004 Zinfandel, which is actually a 100% zinfandel, I was immediately impressed with the nose on this glass of vino. It was a strong nose, but not a dirty one and started on the tongue strong but quite balanced and smooth. The finish on the wine was quite dense and left a short, almost non existent after taste. However, the finish that it did leave was that of an older wine, a more oaken barrel sort of finish.
When talking with Gail I asked her a few questions about the winery itself and how her and her husband got started. She told a story about her husband and his association with champagne. Apparently her husband used to work for the company that helped to develop the plastic cork that you find in pretty much all modern-day bottles of champagne. (Did you know that for champagne to be considered that it actually has to come from Champagne? Hence the name I suppose!)
The Shasta View Vineyard is located, like I said earlier, in northern California just south of the Oregon border. The winery actually sites in Siskiyou County in the city of Montague, California. If you want a closer look as to what their view is from the winery just grab any bottle of Shasta View. The label on the entire bottle is actually the view looking out at their vineyards. (The preview picture on this blog post is also a view from their winery. Quite impressive, don’t you think?) Once you see the view that Gail and her husband get to see each and everyday they are working to produce these fabulous wines, you might think about a career change to the wine making business.
Speaking of delicious wines, Shasta View has actually won some awards for their wines. They have won awards in California all the way to Florida, and pretty much everywhere in between. They have even had their wines poured and featured at various county fairs and at international wine competitions all over the world. Their most recent award came in 2009 when Shasta View Vineyards won the Harry and David Invitational Wine Competition.
I said earlier that Gail and her husband are the brains behind this winery, but they have also enlisted a winemaker from New Zealand to put some of his skills into their bottles as well. David Hook is a younger but wise winemaker that comes to Shasta View with a proven eye for what it takes to make a good wine. He started his wine making career actually in New Zealand working for much larger wineries but seems to have found a fit for himself out in California. Gail stated that David has actually been able to produce California wines with a hint of his New Zealand wine making in every bottle.
Another wine that I sampled and absolutely adored was the Armonia Rossa. I am also a big fan of blends and this is a blend featuring four wines from the Shasta View vines. Gail made mention to the size of vineyards they actually have that can produce each one of these styles of wine and claims that they would rather produce a larger amount of blends than to produce smaller amounts of a straight Merlot or Cabernet. This blend includes 34% mixture of Cabernet, 21% Merlot, 21% Syrah, and a 24% Zinfandel.
All of the wines that you will get from Shasta View Vineyards are going to be ready to drink. However, take note to the year on each of the labels. Most of these wines come from 2004 or 2005. However, the reason they have a later date on them is because of the small batches they produce and the desire to drink them as soon as you buy them. So, according to Gail, if you buy a bottle of Shasta View this evening you can pop the cork when you get home. Keep in mind that the winery only has about fifteen total acres of land to produce grapes on so this wine is made in extremely small batches.
I asked Gail if she had a hard time drinking wines that were not from her own vineyard. She said, “I love to drink other wines. We have so many partial bottles laying around and rather than letting them sit and go bad there is always an open bottle sitting around somewhere. It is truly a treat when you get to try a different wine.”
The prices on these wines are actually not too bad. The Armonia Rossa Red comes in at $25.99, as does the chardonnay. The Cabernet runs you $29.99 and the zinfandel is only $27.99. Also, considering that all of their fruit is state grown, each bottle is hand numbered and each bottle of their chardonnay has a hand sealed wax top, the prices are not that outrageous. Of course, keep in mind that there is only one place to get this wine here in Indianapolis and that is at Vine and Table. So unless you are making a trip out west then your options are pretty limited.
Events like this make sampling new wines and purchasing wines that much more enjoyable. If you can taste a handful of wines, like I did during this Shasta View tasting, you can make mental notes on what you like, what blends make sense, and what fits your palate. Vine and Table is always holding events like this and when you can sample these wines being poured by the family that owns the winery, it is a real treat. I encourage you to visit one of these tastings and sample a wine that just might surprise you. If nothing else, the conversation is priceless and a good time is bound to be had. So bottoms up you winos, and until their next event I would like to thank the folks at Vine and Table for putting this together, and for Gail Rogers for coming all this way to pour your delicious wines for us.