Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gainey Vineyard: Santa Barbara County Winery Visit

Gainey Vineyard in California’s Santa Ynez Valley rocks, rolls and thankfully made it on our list during our recent trip.

Green Dragon and I had been in San Diego where I had a board meeting. We took the train north and met up with my cousin Mary and her husband Cleve. We then sped off (somewhat silently) in their Chevy Volt for wine country in Santa Barbara County.

Our reservations were at the Hamlet Inn in Solvang, a funky Danish-inspired town. Luckily
Mary’s a good navigator and pointed out that our path would swing near Gainey – a winery that was highly recommended.

The afternoon was waning, but we still had more than an hour of tasting time. The Volt was plugged in and was soon filling up with juice. The same could soon be said for us.

We began with the 2009 Limited Selection Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is blended with Semillon, a classic combination. Although pleasing, it wasn’t special.

The 2009 Limited Selection Chardonnay was smooth and bright. The wine is finished for 10 months in French Oak and has just the right component of oakiness. Malolactic fermentation adds a rich, creamy mouthfeel.

We began to find our groove with the 2009 Limited Selection Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. It has mild aromas of strawberry and black cherry. The mid-bodied wine is balanced with a touch of spice. This is only available at the winery and retails for $48.

Jammy with berries and plum is how our quartet described the 2009 Limited Selection Santa Ynez Valley Merlot. It’s a lavish wine that has a long, rich finish. That makes it a crowd favorite. The wine is blended with a dash of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The 2008 Limited Selection Syrah has an edge of earthiness with a healthy streak of spice riding atop black cherry and blackberry. It is smooth on the finish with chocolate flavor notes. The fruit for this wine came from six different vineyards during a very difficult harvest – which resulted in a reduced crop, but more intense flavor.

Our finale was the 2010 Limited Selection Riesling. Green Dragon and I love Riesling, especially when done dry. This wine meets the criteria with a 0.9% residual sugar. This wine retails for only $15 and would be a fantastic pairing with spicy food. Honeysuckle and peach predominate.

Gainey Vineyard is part of a large sustainable family farming operation. The Home Ranch, an 1,800-acre spread in Santa Ynez, has 100 acres of vineyard, Arabian horses, 1,000 acres of rangeland and 600 acres of organic fruits and vegetables.

The winery produces 18,000 cases annually with a focus on wines with optimum flavor and aromatics that reflect the unique characteristics of the vineyards. It’s considered one of the best wineries in California’s Central Coast. There is a unique tasting room (actually two), a great giftshop and beaucoup vines right out the back door.
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