It was a brilliant summer morning in Murphys and we only had time to visit one winery. Such a conundrum given the wealth of wonderful wineries along Main Street! We made our choice: time to visit Lavender Ridge Vineyard.
After a lovely breakfast at the Murphys Hotel, we walked a short block to the Lavender Ridge Vineyard tasting room. The bundles of lavender along the back wall gave the room a lovely and distinctive aroma and reminded us of previous happy times tasting here. We were greeted by wine guide Becca who got us set up with wine glasses and tasting flight menus. Since we had arrived EXACTLY at opening time (sorry, Becca), we were the only guests present, so we had plenty of Becca’s attention and a wonderful opportunity to explore and ask questions. This was going to be a wonderful tasting!
Becca got us started with her “welcome pour” of their Grenache Rosé as she put together the cheeses for their trademark wine and cheese pairing flight. This woke up our palates with a cascade of bright and light fruit notes. Our “Take Home” list got its first entry! Next up was their 2020 Côtes du Calaveras Blanc, a blend of Rolle, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. We enjoyed the dancing layers of peach and nectarine and just the right amount of acid to pair nicely with food. Becca followed that with their 2019 Grenache Blanc, which she said spent six months aging in their concrete egg. This wine showed great minerality and hints of pear on a honey-smooth mouth feel.
Their 2019 Viognier spent its formative time in French oak, and we felt it was well worth the investment! The tart citrus with floral and ginger notes impressed us both. Now we were on to the cheese pairings, starting with their 2019 Grenache paired with a lovely brie cheese and cherry jam. The pure fruit and somewhat peppery finish on the Grenache enhance the creamy funk of the brie, while the brie really softened the sharper edges of the Grenache. Well paired! We then tasted their 2018 Syrah paired with a nice gouda. The gouda highlighted the pitted fruit notes in the Syrah and softened the tannins nicely. Our final taste was their 2019 Petite Sirah with a sheep’s milk bleu cheese. The deep umami of the cheese danced beautifully with the deep, dark fruit of the Petite Sirah. Yet another case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Sadly our time in Murphys, and our flight, had come to an end. We collected our wines and our cheeses for purchase, thanked Becca for her undivided attention, and set off toward the highway. Another great tasting at Lavender Ridge!
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?