Discovering Darcie Kent Vineyards

As fans of the Cedar Mountain Winery, we were a bit sad when Earl and Linda Ault sold their property on Tesla Road. We had a lot of good times there, even an amazing wedding! But change is constant, even in wine, so we were excited to see Darcie Kent Vineyards open on the Cedar Mountain property. After weeks of best intentions, we finally made it into their new tasting room.

The property has retained a lot of its former charm, but many things have changed. The grounds are much the same, although the space for wedding seating has shrunk a bit. The most striking change, though, is the house. It has been completely gutted and restructured as a large and airy tasting room.

When we entered, we were immediately struck by the beautiful art on the walls. Darcie Kent is a talented artist and every available wall surface is a testimonial to her artistry. We’re used to leaving tasting rooms with cases of wine, but this time we nearly left with a $700 oil painting. At least there’s a wine club discount!

We started our tasting with a 2011 Rava Blackjack Gruner Veitliner. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, this unusual wine had clean citrus notes and a crisp finish. A great entry into your “can you identify this wine” contest.

Next we were served a 2011 Rava Blackjack Sauvignon Blanc. This was one of the most interesting wines that we’ve tasted in years. The Monterey vineyard that sources these grapes is adjacent to a jalapeno farm. More than 65 years of growing jalapenos have added a “certain something” to the terroir. Rather than fight this influence in the wine, the winemaker embraced it. The result: is a wine with an unmistakable hint of jalapeno oils. Very refreshing and just aching to be added to our family’s bearnaise sauce. We picked up a number of bottles, so we’ll let you know how that works out.

We moved on to a 2011 West Pinnacles Chardonnay. These grapes are sourced from Darcie’s front yard. Since the yard is pretty much visible from the tasting room, this is the definition of an estate wine. Aged entirely in stainless steel, this Chardonnay was crisp, clear and not at all buttery. A nice summer evening wine.

Up next was a 2008 Picazo Merlot. We found a tobacco nose, with notes of elderberries up front. To us, this wine spent all of its time on the front of the tongue, with nothing left for the back. This is a great wine for cheese and crackers!

We then tasted a Pinot Noir that was not on the tasting list. This is a bold, somewhat peppery Pinot, with leather and fur on the tongue. It should stand up well to spicy foods.

They next poured a Crown Block Merlot. Sourced from grapes grown about 600 feet away, this Merlot had a nice slate nose, some cherry notes and a dry finish. If you like classic Merlots, you will like this one.

The Demayo Zinfandel was next. The grapes are from Darcie’s neighbor, so this is ALMOST an estate wine. This is not your typical Zin. In fact, this was called the “anti-Zin.” Hints of chocolate, low tannin, no pepper, lots of fruit. Not at all a run-of-the-mill Zinfandel. This might even be considered a gateway Zin. All that aside, we found this to be a lovely wine!

Finally, we tried their 2008 Madden Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.  Hints of roses and raspberries, this was an exceptionally smooth and drinkable Cab. We’re not huge fans of most Cabs, but we thought that this one was a winner!

As our visit came to an end, we couldn’t resist. We joined the wine club and picked up a case of wine. There must be some space lurking in the wine fridge by now!


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