Fifty years ago, before California became a giant of winemaking, Barney Fetzer found Mendocino County. He knew he had discovered an extraordinary place to grow wine grapes.
In the decades since, Fetzer Wines has grown to source grapes from the top regions in the Golden State. The commitment to earth-friendly winegrowing and balanced wines has never waivered. We had a chance to explore their wines during a recent Wine Studio educational session.
Fetzer became the first True Zero Waste certified winery in the world, with a goal of a near perfect 99.9% waste diversion by 2020. The winery uses advanced water metering technology to pinpoint leaks and water waste in real time. Their water is processed naturally, using worms and microbes, saving up to a million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The winery has also reported their greenhouse gas emissions to the Climate Registry since 2005 – the first winery to do so.
Their commitment to doing good extends beyond the soil to the social realm as well. Fetzer is a Certified B Corporation. This assemblage of companies meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and seek to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems. In short, B Corps is a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
Wines Blending Accessibility And Style
We tasted three Fetzer wines: 2016 Shaly Loam Gewϋrztraminer, Monterey County; 2016 Sundial Chardonnay, California; and 2015 Eagle Peak Merlot, California. The Chardonnay and Merlot are $10 retail and the Gewϋrztraminer has an SRP of $11.
For the Merlot and Chardonnay, Green Dragon created an Angel Hair pasta dish with grilled shrimp and a garlic pepper sauce. My wife isn’t a fan of oaky Chardonnay, but almost immediately gave her approval. The Sundial Chardonnay has bright flavors kept light by aging partly in stainless steel and partly in oak. There also is a small amount of Riesling in the Chard – a bit of a surprise.
The Riesling helps make this a crowd pleasing wine, accessible to even those who aren’t Chard fans. In the glass the wine is a green gold. On the palate there are flavors of apple and pear.
We had a split decision on the Merlot. The Green Dragon found this enjoyable, especially when she discovered my recently purchased bar of dark chocolate in the pantry. The Merlot has all the varietal aspects you’d expect, with plum and savory flavors. The tannins are soft as a cloud.
I preferred the Gewϋrztraminer over the Merlot. This is the best-selling Gewϋrz in the US and it is easy to see why.
We had it with a sausage, apple, noodle dish that paired nicely. The Gewϋrztraminer is off dry in style with a little puff of sweetness that is balanced with acidity. There are floral and spice notes on the nose. The flavors are smooth peach and pineapple. The residual sugar is 3.1%, so it isn’t overbearing. This is a very nice bottle for the price that will appeal to a wide range of palates. It also gives you a chance to say “Gewϋrztraminer” (Geh-VUHRT-strah-mee-nuhr).
Fetzer is trying to make the world a better place through their sustainable agriculture as well as corporate social responsibility. That deserves a toast with a bottle or two of their very good wine.