The Livermore Valley wine scene is constantly growing and changing. An exciting part of the experience is watching a fledgling winery transition from birth to establishing a reputation, to growing in every way, as the marketplace discovers their unique offerings. It has been great to watch as McKahn Family Cellars developed awareness and then appreciation as a new winery. Their latest transition: moving into a new tasting room that better represents the stature and popularity of their wine.
We first visited McKahn Family Cellars within a few weeks of their opening on Leisure Street. Tucked behind Leisure Street Winery in an industrial park, the tasting room was adequate, but a bit short of what a typical Livermore winery offered. We were thrilled to learn that they had opened a new tasting room on Vasco Road, adjacent to Occasio and Nottingham tasting rooms.
The new tasting room is an elevated and refined facility for tasting wines that are equally elevated and refined. The colors are soft and decorating is thoughtful and spare, with lots of open space and clear sight lines. The main room is set up for a relaxed, seated tasting, with plenty of time to discuss each wine with a winery principal. This approach means that reservations are suggested, because this is not a “belly up to the bar” kind of tasting room. Sit down, relax, and learn about some fine wine!
In addition to the main tasting room, there is a Club Room for a more private, intimate experience. A lovely room, ideal for a dozen wine lovers! Think Board Room if the board of directors really like wine. Yet another reason to join their wine club.
We were greeted by Denise McKahn, matriarch of McKahn Family Cellars. She seated us at one of the tasting tables and got us started with their 2016 Rosé of Grenache, made using “whole cluster press” techniques. We loved the pale blush appearance and gentle aromas. Flavors of vanilla, strawberries and Ranier cherries made it an instant favorite at our table.
Next up was their 2016 Viognier. This was a dry and slightly tart wine, with smooth buttery notes of lemon and lime with (possibly?) a ghost of banana on the finish. Fun and food friendly. The 2015 Chardonnay was “not too buttery” with nice fruit and a pleasant finish. We learned from Denise that this will be their last Chardonnay, as wine maker (and son) Chuck will be going in a different direction in the coming years. Bye-bye Chardonnay. It’s been a good run!
We next tasted the 2014 Zinfandel, a fun Zin with moderate alcohol and restrained jam on the finish. This went directly to our “take home” list. The 2014 Syrah had fun notes of plum and tobacco, with just enough pepper on the finish. Denise told us that Syrah was Chuck’s true passion. One sip and we were pretty passionate about it, too.
Tasting complete, we purchased our wines, congratulated Denise on the recent wedding of Chuck and Brittany, and headed to our next winery. It was great to see the McKahn family opening a tasting room to match the style and quality of their wines!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?