Combine horseback riding, aerospace frontiers and generations of farming, mix in some artistry and a true respect for nature, and what can you get? Some great wine served in a beautiful and intriguing setting. The setting, in this case, is the Cooper Garrod Vineyards.
Just up the hill from Saratoga is a horse ranch that makes wine, or a winery that boards horses. Either way, we were excited to visit and taste at the Cooper Garrod Vineyards. Dylan at Savannah Chanelle recommended Cooper Garrod during our tasting, and we recognized the appeal before we were even parked. The grounds looked like a Hollywood dude ranch movie set, with barns and horses and riders and all the ranch-type fixings. We strolled past an antique convertible to what was originally a Fruit House, now a tasting room. Time for some wine!
The tasting room was comfortably full of happy wine tasters, and we found an open spot along the wood-topped tasting bar. Wine guide Kate welcomed us and got us started with their 2014 Chardonnay. As we enjoyed the slate and lemon zest notes, with just a hint of butter, Kate gave us some background on Cooper Garrod. We learned that we were enjoying the fruits of five generations of Coopers and Garrods. What was originally 120 acres of fruit farm was now mostly a horse ranch, with 28 acres dedicated to grape vines.
We sipped, chatted with Kate, and explored the tasting room. The walls were covered with mementos of the various and interesting contributions of the two family trees. We discovered that the George Cooper was a major figure in airplane design during WWII, making substantial contributions in advanced propeller engineering. Even NASA astronauts recognized his impact on flight!
The aeronautical influence was reflected in some of wine names, too, with Starfigher (a Syrah/Viognier blend) and Sabre Jet (a Merlot blend) leading the way. We especially enjoyed the 2011 Sabre Jet, and it went to the top of the “take home” list. The 2011 Cabernet (from George Cooper’s back yard) was a roller coaster of green pepper notes and layers of soft fruit. Another favorite for all of us. Another favorite was their 2003 Syrah. Yes, a 2003! Smooth and lovely, with delightful notes of tobacco and vanilla. In an era of serving “young” wines, it is great to taste a wine with some years behind it!
With the sun starting to approach the ridge lines, we knew it was time to move on. We collected our purchases, thanked Kate for all the conversation and set off toward our third and final winery. Check back in a few days to learn about our sunset tasting experience!
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?