Like everything in summer, wine drinking is easy. As the leaves start to change colors, sweater weather is contemplative, and there is pumpkin-spice everything, it’s time to transition you’re drinking. Like stepping stones between seasons, summer-to-fall wines are some of the most interesting. Allowing you to cling to the last days of summer, whites become more complex and rich while reds slowly emerge from the shadows, giving you that early autumn feel.
As if there’s a built-in cozy meter waiting for the first wave of crisp air, people rediscover their ovens, and you no longer find yourself plopping an ice cube in your Chardonnay; wines should reflect the taste and feel of the season.
Here are our top 5 red and white wines for early fall drinking:
Perched above the deep, frigid waters of Monterey Bay, with warm clear days and cold foggy nights, grape growers and winemakers alike relish the Santa Lucia Highlands region. Balanced with a velvety texture, this 2014 Pinot Noir has notes of black cherry, raspberry, black pepper, and soothing jasmine tea— perfect for relaxing on a chilly evening.
Delicate and light on its feet, this 2015 Mourvèdre is the perfect introduction to fall. At 99% Mourvèdre and 1% Grenache, this medium-bodied red encompasses the aromatics of red fruit balanced with earthy notes. With mild tannins, bursts of acidity still shine through refreshing the palate— it’s your best buddy for a late-summer BBQ.
You know the smell of freshly baked apple pie or a crackling fireplace? That’s Syrah in a glass. Bursting with mouthwatering fruit flavors and a wisp of smoke, this light-bodied red is a great choice for the lighter style of Syrah. A representative of the Fair Play AVA marked with warm, dry conditions and prompted by elevations reaching 2,400 feet; this 2014 Syrah is complex yet smooth. Dust off your cast iron pots and pans, and pair this wine with a roasted leg of lamb— don’t be afraid to play with the spice rack for this one.
If you’re a “Chardonnay all day, all year” person, this is the wine for you. Enhance the fruity whites you’ve been knocking back all summer with the dreamy flavors of juicy yellow apple, spice, and buttered toast. Slightly richer, this Chardonnay will make the summer-to-fall transition a little easier. Open a bottle after carving pumpkins and curl up by the fire— there’s nothing better.
Lighter, brighter, and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2013 Cabernet Franc is quite possibly the only wine you need to take with you from summer to fall. Famous for its full body and natural acidity, the flavors of berries and dark chocolate with ripe plum and leather on the nose embodies fall in a bottle.
While there aren’t any pumpkin flavored wines that we know of (let’s keep it that way), there are countless wines that go perfectly with the season. Remember, rich, smooth, and warming is the way to go. However, in selecting wines for transitioning into fall, discovering and experimenting is half of the fun.
So many wineries, so little time... It’s the classic wine lover's dilemma. Here to help — join me on a journey through El Dorado County’s wine region. Discover the top 6 must-visits and find out why they deserve a spot on your itinerary.
Nestled in the Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County is home to over 70 wineries and climbing its way up in the world of viticulture. Home to nearly 2,000 acres of vineyards, El Dorado terroir is as diverse as the wines. Sparked by the gold rush era, farmers discovered that the combination of the soil, weather, and altitude were, in fact, ideal for agriculture. Similar to the Bordeaux region, it didn’t take long before Syrah and other Rhône varietals proved to be a huge success. Today, to the advantage of the region's diverse climate, over 50 different varietals are harvested, enabling vintners to produce and sell a variety of regional wines.
With breathtaking views, friendly tasting rooms, and a wide range of award-winning wines, where do you begin? Well, to answer that, we have compiled our top 6 list aimed at making your next wine tasting itinerary a smashing success!
Let the countdown begin.
Iverson Vineyards & Winery, located in Somerset, CA, is all about high-quality wine, barrel-to-barrel, with fewer than 3,000 cases a year. A true boutique winery, Iverson Winery specializes in the region's famed varietals of Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Barbera, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Smooth and soft on the palate, these wines are ready to drink with or without food, a sign of true quality. At Iverson, wine is believed to be a part of everyday life, enhancing the simple things like a cozy dinner with family and friends.
Open Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
A ridge-top vineyard with 360-degree views of the scenic Sierra Foothills, the 2,318-foot elevation does wonders for viticulture. Fortunate to be able to grow a wide variety of varietals, Gwinllan Estate Winery has a wine suitable for everyone's palate. Enjoy an intimate setting and taste your way through hand-crafted California Champagne, three whites, five reds, a Rosé, and a Port.
Open Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
A family business built with a strong emphasis on Italian heritage and passion; Sentivo Vineyard’s handcrafted wines are best enjoyed with the ones you love. Gather around the table, a glass of elegant Syrah in-hand and take in all of the amazing Fair Play scenery. Sentivo is Italian for “I felt” — this engaging wine tasting experience is sure to give you all the feels.
Hungry? You can place an order before your visit. Choose from Italian classics such as Gourmet Flatbreads, Charcuterie boards, cheese platters, and more.
Open Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
A small winery with international awards under its belt, MV Winery is known for its high-quality, low production wines. Full-bodied with complex and rich flavors that demand your attention, MV winery offers quite the lineup of big reds. From lush Syrahs, a bold Malbec to a spicy ZIn, owners John and Cindy Miller's winemaking skills demonstrate great passion and balance.
Stop by the Tasting Room Friday- Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
A fantastic experience, a small footprint, and a huge heart: Saluti Cellars have it all. Pamper your senses with views of rolling vineyards, country chic B&B amenities, extraordinary wines, and a warm welcome from a menagerie of rescue animals (including Norman, the free-roaming Clydesdale.) Kick back on the porch with a glass of wine or take it on the go while exploring one of the many hiking trails. The complete package, guests are encouraged to make themselves at home, even if it’s just for the day.
Open Friday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
They may be the new kids on the block, but that’s just one more reason to visit. Opening their brand new tasting room doors in the heart of Somerset, E16 Winery is the gem the Sierra Foothills have been waiting for. Expand your palate with renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Russian River Valley, including their new label, Firefall, featuring local Fair Play AVA Rhône varietals. Soak in the El Dorado charm and experience the casual elegance of a private subterranean cave tasting. The distinct flavors of the wine and barrel room aromas alone will win you over.
Open Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$10/person at the Front Tasting Room; $15/person for Private Cave Tastings (by appt. only)
Is there a winery we overlooked? Let us know in the comment section below.
Happy wine travels! Comment below and let us know some of your favorite El Dorado County favorites.
Atop the hills of Somerset, E16 opens its doors bringing to the table a young, edgy rendition of family traditions. Robert Jones, founder, and third-generation winegrower planted his roots in the business at a young age helping his grandfather in the surrounding vineyards. Growing up it was instilled that hard work, integrity, love, and respect for the land is what makes good wine. Combining efforts with Winemaker Daniel Moore, one of California’s most respected Pinot Noir producers, E16 introduces Firefall, exquisite wines from El Dorado County’s Baby Rattlesnake Vineyards. An honor to the family legacy.
Making a memorable first impression, the new tasting room centers around an “urban-zen” ambiance, bringing notes of nature inside. Striking, is the single piece cherry wood bar from 1910, Milwaukee WI, located at the end of the 60ft subterranean cavern, a real stand-alone piece. Captivating a sense of exclusiveness with nothing but the utmost inclusive demeanor; guests can lounge in one of the many tasting areas, gather around a communal table for food & wine pairings, or venture outside to the wrap around terrace.
Note: the charming Somerset views!
A reflection of the land, E16’s meticulous attention to detail makes for outstanding Rhone varietal wines for the Firefall label (The Grenache Blanc is a must-try). The name “Firefall” deriving from the way in which the sun sets behind the hills of Baby Rattlesnake Vineyards. A story in itself, the vineyard was named by Jones’s son after a rare yet peaceful interaction with a baby rattlesnake. Another reason Jones continues to reinstate the company’s commitment to being one with the land, valuing honorable labor and sustainable winemaking practices. Encompassing a purpose in a bottle, Firefall wines are distinct, and are identifiable by a sense of place, terroir, and passion.
Photo: Robert Jones standing alongside the family’s 140-year-old wine press.
Join us for our soft opening July 28th, 2017!
Located at 8085 Perry Creek Road, Somerset, CA 95684, open Friday-Sunday 11am-5pm; we offer private tastings available by reservation. Pamper your senses with a salon-style wine tasting experience, an atmosphere of casual elegance paired with the flavors and aromas of critically acclaimed E16 wines.
Book your tasting here: http://bit.ly/2pEUffu
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