Happy #CabernetDay 2013 from Livermore Valley Photo courtesy of Rhiannon Eddy
When I started thinking about how I could celebrate #CabernetDay…as everyone should celebrate such a day…I knew that I wanted to revisit the Mello Cielo tour at Ruby Hill Winery. One of my all time favorite images was taken there, coincidentally, on Cabernet Day 2012.
Taken at Ruby Hill Winery while enjoying the Mello Cielo tour 2012
This great tour takes you up into the vineyards, so that you can taste the finished product among the vines, hanging heavy with the 2013 grapes. Our driver, Eric, took the time to have us taste several different varieties of grapes, freshly plucked from the vines.
Mello Cielo tour at Ruby Hill Winery!
Eric samples the 2013 Zinfandel grapes
Another great day in the Tri Valley! Photo courtesy of Rhiannon Eddy
Rubino Estates Winery
After a quick detour to the new Rubino winery, where we sampled the Muscato sparkling wine (too sweet for me, but a nice offering) and 2010 Zinfandel, we moved on to the Ruby Hill production area. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting a winery during the harvest season, there is an amazing energy in the cellars this time of year. The assistant winemaker, Pete, and the team were busy getting all of the equipment cleaned and ready for the arrival of some Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, expected later this week.
The production area is ready and waiting for the 2013 grape harvest
New barrels at Ruby Hill Winery
Barrel tasting at Ruby Hill Winery Photo courtesy of Rhiannon Eddy
After tasting 2 fabulous barrel samples (the 2012 Sangiovese and 2012 Zinfandel), we made our way to the “water tower” for the food and wine pairing part of the tour.
Food and wine pairing on the Mello Cielo tour
The wines were served with a platter of cheeses, melon with prosciutto, dried blueberries, almonds, and salami. Of course, what goes better with wine that good company? We had a great group of people, including local hoteliers and members of the Visit Tri Valley tourism bureau team. Thank you Paul, Anna Maria, Liz, Geoff, Eric, Barbara, Mario and Rhiannon for exploring our local wine region with me!
Mello Cielo Tour Cabernet Day 2013 Photo courtesy of Rhiannon Eddy
For some people, this two hour tour would be enough of a celebration – but not for those of us in Livermore Valley Wine Country! Jay Bhatia, with 4GQ Limousine, picked the group up and we headed to Concannon Vineyard, for a very special Cabernet Day tasting.
Limo! Responsible wine tasting at it’s best! Photo courtesy of Rhiannon Eddy
All of us Cabernet Sauvignon lovers owe a lot to the Concannon family – a considerable amount of California Cabernet vines can trace their roots (literally) back to the “Mother Vine” at Concannon Vineyards. This year marks the 130th consecutive grape harvest at their Livermore Valley vineyards. As such, Concannon Vineyards used #CabernetDay as the perfect excuse to open some older vintages for a special vertical tasting. The 2002 Limited Cabernet was easily my favorite Concannon wine (of the 6 that we tried) This Cabernet was smooth, with flavors of black current and cassis. The smoked Gouda that they paired it with was a perfect match.
Concannon Vineyards #CabernetDay #130DaysofCab Photo courtesy of Rhiannon Eddy
The other delicious Concannon pairings were:
- 2003 Reserve Cabernet paired with Irish Cheddar
- 2007 Heritage Cabernet paired with Point Reyes Blue (yummy!)
- 2010 Reserve Cabernet paired with Cambozola
- 2010 Reserve 130th Anniversary Cabernet paired with Traditional Brie
- 2012 Cabernet barrel sample – young, but showing great structure already
Beautiful outdoor tasting at Concannon Vineyards
Concannon’s “Cab is King” throne
Any Livermore Valley Cabernet discussion must include the Steven Kent Winery. They have been making Cabernet in Livermore since 1996, but Steven Mirassou (yes, those Mirassous) has a passion for wine that goes back much further. Steven Kent Winery offered a special Cabernet Day tasting of their 2010 Home Ranch, Smith Ranch, and Folkendt Vineyard Cabernets. All were stellar, but the Folkendt was easily my favorite. I know that a few more years in the bottle will only help this wine, but I don’t know if I have that kind of will power.
Steven Kent Winery #CabernetDay
While our intention had been to continue on to another one of the outstanding Livermore Valley Cabernet producers (McGrail Vineyards or Nottingham Cellars were both on our list), we opted to end the evening sitting out in the orchard at the Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort. Their “Music in the Orchard” series offers the perfect setting for a warm summer evening in Livermore. Crawdad Republic was the band that night, and they were offering wines from Nottingham Cellars and beer from Altamond Beer Works. But best of all…pizza from Ken’s Wood Fired Pizza. I don’t mind telling you that I needed more pizza than wine or beer by the time we wrapped up our CabernetDay celebration. Cheers!
Music in the Orchard at Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort