Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Passport

I hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks before finally deciding the Thursday before Spring Passport to hit a couple of wineries.

Using my wine app, I quickly worked up an itinerary of wineries I had never visited:

I let Bob know what I was thinking, since we always enjoy wine tasting with them, and they already owned a Santa Cruz Mountains Passport. He talked to the boss and said they were in.

Saturday morning Bob and Carolyn showed up just before 10. We piled into the Civic and headed over the hill. Luckily, traffic wasn't backed up yet and we made good time to Watsonville. That temperatures were in the 90s, which was unseasonably warm. I knew it would send everyone over the hill to the beach, which was one of the reasons why we left so early.

Surprisingly, we ended up at the Winermakers Studio. We were greeted by Mica Raas who told us about the co-op and the 3 wineries that were pouring there that day. He told us Al Drewke from Roudon-Smith must have hit some traffic coming over the hill, but he should be along any minute. He explained that while he wasn't a member of SCMWA, he honored passports and would love to share his wine with us. He didn't need to ask us twice.

Mica Cellars

Mica appeared young, but he explained that he had been making wine for the past twelve years and at a number of different places. Judging from his wine, he has learned a lot along the way.

I asked him where his name came from; he said it was biblical (Micah), but that he was named after the rock (Mica).

Mica infectiously poured us his creations. He showed real passion for his terrior driven wines. He poured Sauvignon Blanc, Zin, Charbono, which is apparently in low supply due to the inability to mechanize the vineyards, and CFM, his bordeaux style blend.

His labels had a color scheme to associate the taste. He said blue candy doesn't taste like blueberries, it tastes like blue. I'm not certain I totally grasped it, but it was an interesting idea and the labels looked nice.

He also told us about his 91 point, "exceptional" Pinot, which he only served to Wine Club members. Bob quickly asked if he were to purchase a bottle would he allow us to taste it. Mica agreed, pouring us a taste. When Carolyn tried this she proclaimed it delicious, which is a gold star for any wine. I had to agree.

All the wines were very nice. My favorites were the Pinot and Zin. Additionally, Sue liked the Charbono, which I thought tasted interesting but didn't quite work for me. I even liked the Sauvignon Blanc, which is a rarity.

The prices were very reasonable, bottles were $20 or $30. Wine club members received 50% off. Bob joined, making each of the wines $10 or $15. An amazing deal!

Roudon-Smith Winery

Al had arrived and was ready to start pouring as soon as we finished with Mica. He told us that they make wine that fits the fruit instead of forcing everything into the California style.

When I asked if he was Roudon or Smith, he told us a bit of their long history going back to 1972. Last year they split with their partner when they wanted to head different directions. This lead to two "new" wineries: Roudon-Smith Winery and Skov Winery.

Al poured started us out with Chard, followed by a very nice Pinot with hints of spice. This was probably my favorite.

Al pours us a taste

Next Al poured us the RSW Cuvee, their blend which used to be called Claret. It was very drinkable and seemed an incredible deal at $15. It tasted to me like koolaid, which gave everyone else a good laugh. Of course the Nebraskan thinks koolaid is a good taste. :) The Zin and Duet were also very good.

As a plus, Roudon-Smith Winery was paying the sales tax.

Bump Wine Cellars

Unfortunately, someone came in that was strongly perfumed; this set off Carolyn's asthma, so we had to leave before we could try Bump which recently relocated from Sonoma.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

Next we went to Pleasant Valley. See my post.


Winemakers Studio is a nice place to visit. The wine is incredibly reasonable. The wine makers are knowledgeable and entertaining. Like other urban wineries, it doesn't have the scenic views of many of the Santa Cruz Mountains wineries. However, it does have the advantage of providing access to a couple of wineries in one place.