When is a winery tasting room NOT a tasting room? When it is a members only lounge-style space like the new Lion’s Den at McKahn Family Cellars.
To be clear, the McKahn Family Cellars tasting room is still open and doing well, offering seated tasting flights in a relaxing setting. Recently, though, they opened the back area of their facility as a members only speakeasy-style experience that is intended to be quite different from the tasting room in front. There are no tasting flights, instead offering wine for purchase by the glass or the bottle. With no reservations required, the comfortable seating is available on a “first come, first served” basis.
We soaked up the calm, refined vibe of the Lion’s Den, even “sit testing” some of the red leather armchairs (they’re great). The seating groups were thoughtfully arranged to promote conversation and the leisurely appreciation of wine. A welcome change of pace from the typical excited energy of a tasting bar. Between the racks of wine barrels and the wine bottle-inspired furniture, there is no missing the heritage of this space.
We couldn’t visit McKahn Family Cellars without enjoying a tasting flight. Co-owner Denise first poured their 2018 Viognier, a crisp and refreshing start to a flight. The aroma of this wine is amazing, and we learned that the wine spent some time on the lees, which probably contributed to its incredible nose. We next tasted their 2017 Morning Glass, a blend of 76% Grenache, 19% Petite Sirah, and 5% Mourvedre. This wine is a consistent favorite of ours, with lovely plum and cherry notes and a great fruit finish. It was destined for our Take Home list, until Denise poured their 2017 Mourvedre. This wine amazed us! Spending 18 months on 40% new French oak, we found great fruit, with cherry and green apple leading the way, and just enough tannin on the finish to stand up to a steak. Sorry, Morning Glass, but we only have room for one bottle today, and its going to be Mourvedre.
Then we tasted the 2016 Morning Glass. With only a few cases left to sell, this wine is tasting incredibly well! Huge fruit up front and a remarkable, lingering finish. We were planning tritip for dinner, so the Mourvedre got bumped and we picked up one of the few remaining bottles of 2016 Morning Glass. We completed our flight with their 2016 Syrah, full of leather and tobacco. A perfect sipping wine after a tough day of work.
Before our determination to stick to “one winery, one bottle” could erode, we purchased our Morning Glass, thanked Denise, and set off in search of our next tasting. We were about to visit the newest tasting room in Livermore!
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?