We went wine tasting in our backyard last weekend. Provided that we can define our backyard as our home territory, otherwise known as the Livermore Valley. The first winery we went to was Cuda Ridge, which we hadn’t been to since they moved into a new facility in Livermore a few months ago. Cuda Ridge specializes in Bordeaux varietals, and they do a pretty good job at it. We really liked their Petit Verdot, which is the fifth red Bordeaux grape, after Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. It’s usually used just for blending, but this was really nice on its own.
More important than the fact that we hadn’t been to the new Cuda Ridge tasting room was that they were having music there. The guy with the guitar, Tim Gomes, was one of my friends at UC Berkeley, eons ago. And now, like me, he has children; his daughter Audrey (now a sophomore in college) came and sang with him. Fortunately, she didn’t ask me for any stories about her father, and even more fortunately, she didn’t ask Tim for any stories about me. Tim can play the guitar really well, but it gets a lot better when his daughter accompanies him. She’s got a great voice. We also got to see Tim’s wife Nancy, who was a classmate of my brother, also at UC Berkeley. Doesn’t get much better than a beautiful day, a nice glass of wine, and shooting the breeze about ancient history.
Another winery that has recently changed locations is Mitchell Katz Winery. This is another case of ancient history, although not quite as ancient, as Mitch and I used to play pickup basketball together a couple times each week, early mornings before work. That was before knees started getting a bit less reliable. Mitchell Katz Winery is one of the relatively older wineries in the Livermore Valley, at a ripe 15 years now. And Mitch has an even longer history in winemaking, having helped his grandfather make wines.
My consistent favorite from Mitch is the Sangiovese. He just seems to have a nice touch with this wine. He know regularly makes two different single vineyard Sangioveses; we went home with a few bottles of the Crackerbox Vineyard version. Easy drinking, nice balance, good fruit, works with food, and a good value too. Can’t ask for anything more than that.
One more thing about Mitch and his winery: great customer loyalty. Customers keep coming back, whether to talk to Mitch, or because they have a favorite wine (we also liked the Merlot, the Zinfandel, and the nonvintage sparkling on this last visit), or because they just like the vibe and want to hang out there. It’s great to see a friend be successful in something as tough as the wine industry.