Dr. Joel M. Fisher’s From the GrapeVine: California Wines

Dr. Joel M. Fisher

Dr. Joel M. Fisher is a renowned wine enthusiast, educator and columnist.  He also leads Los Angeles’ biggest and most prestigious wine, brew and spirits festival LA WineFest.  This week Dr. Fisher discusses some of the best California wines he’s tasted this summer:

I’m not used to begin writing columns, accompanied by a horrific, smashing noise which turns out to be an extremely loud bit of thunder.  Oh, well, the summer is over, so what happens will almost always be the unexpected.

Some time back I went to a tasting of California wines meant to encourage wine buyers to taste and select.  Some of us from the media were also graciously invited.

I trekked west for this tasting, to the Wilshire Restaurant.  As I walked in, I spotted the distinguished Ursula Hermacinski, previously met at the Napa Wine Auction and other events featuring her auctioneering talents.  Here she was representing Casey Flat Ranch from Yolo County.  I tried one of her wines, amidst a big crowd, and we agreed I would try to taste the wine at Family Winemakers in San Francisco.  By the time we arrived in San Francisco the following month, Ursula was no longer with the winery.


I spotted Norman Yost, owner and winemaker of Flying Goat Winery.  I have tried to get him to com to the LAWineFest, and someday he will.  I liked his Santa Rita Hills Pinot (2008) which has great dark cherry flavors, a mild mocha note that lasts into the finish, and a smokey nose.

Ryan Skinner of Skinner Wines in the Sierra Foothills presented a wine made by Chris Pittenger which looks like its a Pinot, but is 100% Grenache and turns out to be quite dry, nice if not brilliant cherry nose and a rich but not thick palate.  I heard raves about their very dark nearly forceful 2007 Estate Syrah.

Inception-WineryNext was a wine I tasted in their early days, now veterans of two wine fests with me:  Inception Winery of Santa Barbara.  I found their chardonnay almost Burgundian with strong minerals at the front.  Their Pinot I liked and their Santa Rita Hills Pino Noir was released mid July 2011.  George and Jon are making wines with great noses and rich flavors.

I stopped by the Dry Creek Valley venue of Mauritzen (of Sonoma), owned by Clay Mauritzen, whom I met several years ago at the winery, and returned a few more times to taste new products.  His petite sirah has good balance, concentrated fruit and a firm finish.  Clay makes port style dessert wine from a blend of five Portuguese grape varieties.  It’s not just sweet, but there is an earthy texture to this which suggests it is not just for dessert.

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Dr. Joel M. Fisher’s From the GrapeVine