It was a beautiful mid-week summer day and we were ready to get out of our house. With the Covid restrictions starting to relax a bit, we were ready for things to be a little more normal. What is normal for us? Why spending some time relaxing in a winery, of course! So we headed over to one of our favorite wineries for mid-week tastings: Ruby Hill Winery.
We have been wine club members at Ruby Hill Winery for more than a decade. The wine is wonderful, the staff knowledgeable and engaging, the décor tasteful and soothing. All great attributes for a winery. Add in mid-week tastings in Livermore and you have a winery that earns a club membership every visit! There was plenty of room to park, and the winery was pleasantly busy but not at all crowded. We had our choice of seating, so we selected one of the new round tables with the comfy seats. We were in the middle of the action but not near enough to any other table of tasters to intrude. The new metal roof was a great shield for the warm sunshine and the ceiling fans mounted every dozen feet stood ready to stir the air should that be required. It was time for a tasting!
We settled in and met wine guide Karen. She had a very nice demeanor and excelled at her job: she was always around when we had a question or comment, she knew the wines intimately, and she knew when to vanish and let my beautiful bride and I discuss matters of the world (mostly the wine). We chose two different wine tasting flights, of course, so maximize our coverage of the current flights, and also tailor each experience to the taster’s palate. Today we chose the White Wine Flight and the Jewel Flight. We were pretty sure that Karen would let us sample anything from the Release Flight, too, if it came to that. We had two wine club release packs to pick up, so we were going to be enjoying those wines anyway.
Karen came back with our wine flights quickly. One of the positive things to come out of the Covid protocols, at least from our perspective, was the new way to deliver a tasting. The approach varied a bit from winery to winery, but the new spiral of glasses was efficient, Covid-safe, and looked nice on the table. It also promoted looping back and forth through the tasting instead of plodding directly through in order, only advancing to the next taste when the current glass was empty. Hopefully this approach remains long after Covid is a mere sad memory. The Ruby Hill Winery glass spirals were stable, easy to move around the table for sharing tastes, and easy to remove and replace the wine glasses.
The White Wine flight started with their 2017 Grapeful White. This blend of Trebbiano and Sauvignon Blanc was delightfully light with raspberry, apricot, peach, and almond notes. The slightly acidic finish would be perfect paired with some hard cheese. The 2018 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc was next on the spiral, sporting pineapple and warm peach aromas and flavors of guava and passionfruit. This wine would be a great party wine, with a crisp and bracing taste that leaves the mouth clean and fresh smelling (just in case masks come back). Their 2017 Reserve Chardonnay was next compared with the 2018 Jewel Chardonnay from the Jewel Flight. The Reserve was bright with an apple cider nose and flavors of peach cobbler while the Jewel showed more terroir with hints of lemon blossom and nutmeg. The White Wine flight wrapped up with their 2020 Grapeful Rosé, which was a new wine to us. This 100% Sangiovese wine offered aromas of peach and watermelon and flavors of strawberry, lemon zest, and cherries. A refreshing end to the tasting flight!
The Jewel flight started with the Chardonnay discussed earlier, then offered their 2016 Jewel Zinfandel. This Zin is the kind of wine that keeps you coming back for the next sip, with award-winning Zinfandel fruit and restrained tannins to keep the sipping going. A truly remarkable wine! Their 2018 Jewel Cabernet Sauvignon was inviting with its aromas of leather and sage and flavors of dark fruit and spice. The flight wrapped up with their 2016 Jewel Petite Sirah, full of cavorting dark plum and cherry flavors with a lingering finish redolent with tannins and nutmeg. We concluded our visit with a few “off the list” tastes, including their 2017 Peacock Patch Zinfandel, which was so amazing that we purchased a double magnum (3 liters) of their 2016 Peacock Patch. This will make next Thanksgiving something truly memorable!
Our relaxing afternoon of winetasting was drawing to a close, so we thanked Karen, collected a nearly embarrassing amount of wine and headed for home. Another proof point supporting our decades-long membership in the wine club at Ruby Hill Winery!
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?