California Dreaming

Richard Wilson

Posted on February 02 2015

While the days are at least starting to lengthen, we still have a few months of winter left and I find myself longing for the glorious two weeks I spent in heart of North America’s wine country last August.

While every state in the USA produces some wine and the likes of Oregon and Washington are starting to gain vinous reputations, California remains king.  If California were a country it would in fact be the fifth largest producer of wine by volume.  The style and quality of the wines vary wildly, from commercial styles produced in the huge Central Valley to the world beating (and eye-wateringly expensive) icons of the Napa Valley.

California Dreaming

Dave tasting wines at Frog’s Leap

During my stay I visited a couple of wineries from which The Good Wine Shop sources its Californian range.  Frog’s Leap can be found in the small sub-region of Rutherford about thirty minutes drive from Napa itself.  If you’re visiting do note it’s also spitting distance from the excellent Goose and Gander in St. Helena where some superb cocktails are served! The vineyards are totally un-irrigated, so careful and skilled management is needed to keep the vines productive.  The extra effort is certainly worth it.  The resulting wines have an uncommon elegant restraint and freshness of acidity which can often be lacking in some of the fruit bombs of the region.

On our second day in the Napa Valley we drove out to Duckhorn Vineyards. Its traditional estate house is set in beautiful gardens and has wines to match. Visitors have the option of sitting on the veranda or out in the gardens themselves whilst working through a selection of samples.  We opted for the latter and were treated to the reassuring rumble of tanks being hosed down, rather like hearing the sea in the distance. The wines themselves are more typically Californian and certainly weightier on the palate. The estate wines were stunning and age worthy, the “ready on release” Decoy range also impressed with bright fruit, supple texture and smooth drinkability.

We’re planning to open the Decoy Red Blend for customers to taste in the Esher shop over the weekend of 27 and 28 February. We’ll also be sampling the Frogs Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chiswick and Kew shops will be ‘California dreaming’ the same weekend. West Londoners should get in touch with their nearest branch to see what will be open to taste.

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