Do No Good Wines Come from the Valley?

Before I wrecked my palate with all of the good stuff, I drank through many cases of McManis Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah for less than $10/bottle. I’d be curious to try some today.

McManis’ reds and Peirano’s whites were some of the best selling wines at the shop I used to work at in the early 00’s. I am willing to bet that they are still better than many “coastal” grocery wines.

The parts of Algeria where they used to make wine are green and get plenty of rain.

How many old grand cru Burgundies were boosted by their dollop of ‘great’ Algerian wine?

A follow-up blog post from Blake Gray on wines from California’s Central Valley:
Finding good wines from California’s Central Valley

Nice post, and glad to see that Blake took another look at wines from the region. Other than dessert wines, I’ve only tasted a handful of “serious” wines from the San Joaquin Valley (including some from Idle Hour), and it’s interesting to read more about the area.

Cool! Thank you for pointing that out to me, Ken!

I learned about a couple of producers I was unfamiliar with before.

Idle Hour is made in the town that I grew up in. Very cool to see them featured on Gray Report. They’re great folks, and making nice wines way out in the boonies. Worth a visit if you’re ever headed to Yosemite.

I helped bottle a 2015 Counoise Rosé from Love Ranch in Madera County for Waxwing Wine Cellars a couple of weeks ago. The vineyard is in the foothills south of Yosemite - looks like it’s near the small town of Coarsegold not far from Oakhurst. Idle Hour and a couple of other producers source fruit from Love Ranch as well. But that area is south of the Sierra Foothills AVA so it can’t be labeled as such. As some of the vintners in Blake Gray’s recent post point out, just because their fruit is grown in a warmer area doesn’t mean they have to let it get over-ripe - the Waxwing Rosé is just 11.4% alcohol.

I’d forgotten another good wine sourced from Madera County’s Love Ranch - Broc Cellars’ “Love White”. It’s a Marsanne-based white Rhône-style blend - a tasty wine with fine QPR.
Disclaimer - I help bottle most of the Broc Cellars wines with Chris Brockway and his crew, and just helped bottle his 2015 “Love White” today.

Ken, I just commented on Tom Hill’s thread about the Love Ranch of Oscar Ramos being in the Central Valley.


Detailed info on the vineyard here:
The Love Ranch Vineyard

It’s debatable as to whether Love Ranch is truly in the Central Valley - it’s in Madera County, but at its location and 1,350-foot elevation, I would argue that it’s in the southern Sierra Foothills, but south of that region’s AVA boundary.

Apparently, Central Valley farmer John Simpson grows Viognier that has gone into several Madera-area wines, as well as those from Miner Family and “a Stag’s Leap area winery” (mentioned in an article about sustainable farming innovation methods from 2004). Banyan also released at one point a Madera white…

in the 90’s there were some amazing Zins being grown in Lodi (Amador County). The old Folie e Deux, before it was bought by Sutter Home, made several of them. Does anyone still buy Zin though?

Love Ranch is about 10 minutes from my childhood home. The soil may be slightly different from much of valley, but I’d argue that the climate is indistinguishable from the “valley”. Technically it’s in Coarsegold, but Corasegold itself is 20 minutes up into the foothills, and the heat and weather at the vineyard are identically to the remainder of Madera County, at least in my experience. It’s only about 10 miles up highway 41 that you truly move into the foothills. So we still have 100-105 degree heat for much of the summer. Which is at best 2-3 degrees cooler than downtown Fresno, 25 miles away.

Lodi is not in Amador County, it’s in San Joaquin County. Two very different areas though both have been known mainly for their Zinfandels over the years and both still have vineyards with 100+ year-old vines.

I don’t know the area as well as you do, and I know it gets quite hot there during the summer, but the same is largely true of the lower-elevation portions of Amador and Calaveras in the Sierra Foothills appellation - for example, in Amador County, the area around Ione has a bunch of vineyards and it’s certainly considered Sierra Foothills. For another comparison, Love Ranch is about the same elevation as Angels Camp in Calaveras County. But being in Madera County makes it sound much more like a Central Valley location.

I think these photos of Love Ranch from the web tell the story. The first is from Ramos Torres Winery (they farm the vineyard) and the second from Idle Hour Winery. To me, the landscape looks nothing like most of the Central Valley and exactly the lower Sierra Foothills. But I suppose it all depends on where you consider one region ends and the other begins…


Easy enough to just stop right there. Seriously. Being a blogger isn’t enough to qualify one’s opinions to be worthy of reading.

In case you don’t know or don’t recall, Blake Gray was the SF Chronicle’s main wine writer before Jon Bonné, so he’s more than qualified to write on subjects such as this.

I am not attacking the blog writer. I am challenging the preexisting opinions that most fine wine drinkers hold in regard to a huge swath of land.

The fact that Mr Gray went forward and tasted several small producers’ wines from the Central Valley says something positive about his character.

For a very long time, other regions worldwide were dismissed out of hand as “Wine Lakes”. Many of these places are showing the wine community that great wines can be found almost anywhere - and NOT because of the influx of international homogenization via Cab Sauv/Chard or massive oak treatment.