Harvest season in wine country is a magical time! Everywhere you look there are vineyards heavy with fruit. We started our tasting tour on a high note: McGrail Vineyards.
McGrail Vineyards knows how to put on a tasting experience. From the moment you enter their property, everything is planned, structured, and completely focused on maximizing the tasting visit and eliminating any possible frustration. We were guided to our parking spot in their large lot, and then we strolled along the broad walkway to the winery. Once inside, we found a busy tasting bar, but easily found a table for a seated tasting.
As we settled in, we met wine guide Patty, who set us up with wine glasses and gave us an overview of the upcoming tasting. As she described the history of the winery and the McGrail family’s contribution to the Livermore wine scene through the years, she poured their 2018 “Family” Chardonnay. We appreciated the crisp citrus notes, which (among other positive attributes) eliminated any residual Hollandaise from our Eggs Benedict brunch.
Patty then started pouring us red wines (YES!). First up was their 2016 Shamus Patrick Red Blend. The plum and bell pepper nose introduced bold cherry and blood orange flavors on the palate. This is a great dinner wine, suitable from nearly any menu, from pasta to porterhouse. We next tasted the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. A classic Cab, this one has a tight structure and should cellar well for years to come. Very chocolate friendly!
Patty then poured their 2016 Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a favorite of both of us! Soft, rounded fruit, hinting of Petit Verdot (although it does not contain any), with blueberry and Bing cherry layers and a nice, tannic finish. Our final taste was their 2016 Patriot Cabernet Sauvignon. Patty mentioned that 10% of sales were donated to a police charity. Even without the philanthropy, we loved the wine, with raspberry, orange, and nutmeg notes and a strong oaky finish.
With our tasting complete, we thanked Patty for all of her time and attention and headed out. We had more wineries on our touring list!
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?