Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:59 pm

I had a chance to visit one of my favorite "Anti-Napa-Snobbery"* wineries, Hopper Creek south of Yountville on Friday. I love creative, fancy architecture and all that, but these hidden rustic, low key wineries to me are more fun. They are less "professional" in some ways, but very enjoyable to visit.

Hopper Creek offers fantastic cabs, merlots, (and petit sirahs) from Napa and Sonoma County. There is usually a Border Collie eagerly cadging ball tosses. The tasting room manager usually has a PBR on the counter in front of him. The owner's son in law was watching a commercial fishing reality TV show (he was a fisherman for 25 years he said!). He actually gave me a bottle of 2003 cabernet made from grapes grown down the driveway by an area wild man (he looks like a viking) but never sold. It was awesome maturing cabernet!

Corison-definitely more polished than Hopper Creek, but Cathy Corison is so low key and anti-snobbery and she hires fantastic people that are genuinely pleasant and fun to talk with. The tasting room is a beautiful New Englandish barn...not pretentious in any way.

Donkey and Goat. Fantastic "natural" winery in an industrial park in Berkeley. I love the savory, tangy character of their wines.

Fields Family Winery in Lodi. So...my impression of Lodi as being nothing but Michael David "cough syrup" wines is false. There seems to be a new school. This hidden winery located in a basic metal building north of Lodi, made balanced, tangy, and quite nice wines. Loved the Syrah, and they offered a Mount Veeder Cabernet that knocked my socks off already! (Also liked the wines at Sant Jorge nearby. Not rustic at all, though :lol: ). Lodi is not as conventionally scenic as Napa or Sonoma, but given that Northern California had a massive amount of rain early this year, even the pastures of San Joaquin County looks like Ireland right now. Plus, the old bush vines are amazingly picturesque!
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
Brian K Miller
Passionate Arboisphile
 
Posts: 7098
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:05 am
Location: Northern California

Re: Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Howie Hart » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:52 pm

There are several new, small wineries locally that I like that would fit your description. I don't think any of them are more than 6 years old. Very limited production and most wines are only available through the winery. They are all along the Niagara Escarpment AVA. Long Cliff is the newest, just opened a year ago by a friend of mine, just after his 70th birthday. He does a good job with Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Lemberger. Around the corner from him, Gust of Sun winery makes an outstanding late harvest Vignoles. Farther East along the Escarpment are Freedom Run and Arrowhead Springs, which are back to back. Both do excellent Chardonnay, Riesling, Cab Franc and Pinot Noir. Arrowhead is also making Syrah and their vines are starting to mature. Moving farther East, into the next county, is Leonard Oakes, who make killer Riesling, some interesting hybrids, including a fantastic Vidal Ice Wine and a fun Steampunk Sparkling Cider.
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
Groucho - That's because it's dry Champagne.
User avatar
Howie Hart
The Hart of Buffalo
 
Posts: 5937
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:13 pm
Location: Niagara Falls, NY

Re: Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Mark Lipton » Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:15 pm

Does Edmunds St. John count? Considering that the last time I visited their "tasting room" it was in Steve's living room, I would hope so. And they don't get much more low key than Steve E. (though he might be able to sing tenor with some effort :D )

Mark Lipton
User avatar
Mark Lipton
Oenochemist
 
Posts: 4341
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:18 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:35 pm

Clos Mont Olivet in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The cellars were a true cave dug out of limestone, with mold growing all over the place. To get to the cellar door we had to cross the patio, where M. Sabon's mother was watching over a group of chickens scratching in the ground. It was a big contrast to Chateau Beaucastel, which was a squeaky-clean high-tech operation.

-Paul W.
User avatar
Paul Winalski
Wok Wielder
 
Posts: 4125
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:16 pm
Location: Merrimack, New Hampshire

Re: Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Jenise » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:33 pm

In Washington, where my experience visiting tasting rooms is pretty minimal, Woodward Canyon gets the award for low key. If nothing's happened in the last five years to change things, the winery is probably about as it was 20 years ago. Success, clearly, hasn't gone to anyone's head.

In California, it never got any better for me than Joseph Swan. Rod Berglund is so gracious, generous and as unpretentious as his quonset hut winery, and the wines are better than almost anybody's.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26462
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Brian K Miller » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:35 pm

Jenise wrote:In California, it never got any better for me than Joseph Swan. Rod Berglund is so gracious, generous and as unpretentious as his quonset hut winery, and the wines are better than almost anybody's.



YES! Love the wines and you are so right about his friendlyness and low key gracioussness.

It is slightly out of the way, so I never get there, but I need to go!

Nearby (sorta) I have to recommend Porter Creek, which is very low key and housed in a converted garage. They have killer wines, too, and a broad range of excellence- Zinfandel, the Carrignane, the Syrah, and the Pinots

There is a Scottish guy there who is quite the hoot!
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
Brian K Miller
Passionate Arboisphile
 
Posts: 7098
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:05 am
Location: Northern California

Re: Favorite "Low Key" or "Rustic" Wineries?

Postby Mark Lipton » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:52 am

Jenise wrote:In California, it never got any better for me than Joseph Swan. Rod Berglund is so gracious, generous and as unpretentious as his quonset hut winery, and the wines are better than almost anybody's.


BIngo!

Mark Lipton
User avatar
Mark Lipton
Oenochemist
 
Posts: 4341
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:18 pm
Location: Indiana


Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 6 guests