California, for all of its glamour, has very humble roots. In order to build a conglomerate you first have to start small. Thus, it’s no surprise many companies in California started in garages— Hewlett-Packard (HP), Apple and Taft Street. Welcome. Come on in.
The underlying theme of Taft Street Winery is it’s humble upbringings and that this is not a chateaux. Nothing could be more accurate than having to drive around a big-rig dropping off wine barrels in the middle of the driveway. Though, ironically, one barrel made a great bottle shot location after I almost forgot the bottle I purchased because I was having such a great conversation with the staff of the winery.
The tasting room is relaxed, unassuming and focused on the locale of where the winery is located. To one side of the room, next to the water cooler (another thing you might not find in a French Chateaux) is a giant hand-drawn map of the surrounding area around the winery—complete with neighboring wineries. That’s pretty cool to highlight your neighbors, though Taft Street’s winery was written in the largest text.
The map is really helpful because they are in the heart of the Russian River. While I had been there years ago, I had to use the GPS to find exactly where it was. It wasn’t like I could just turn off the freeway, go through 2 stoplights and it’s there. Took a little navigating, but I did find it. I’m sure after a half dozen more times I’ll have the location down.
A few bottles were spread sporadically around the tasting counter—both in the shape of burgundy (Pinot and Chardonnay) along with Bordeaux style. This piqued my interest in that I assumed they only had, well Pinot and Chardonnay being located in the Russian River. It turns out those both were available, but so was so much more.
The tasting started with a Pinot Gris, complete with a hammer and a cork on the label. I wondered if that was from their humble upbringing as a winery or how the bottling line works? I’m going to assume it’s not the latter. The Pinot Gris was bright with a rich mouth feel, which will wake your palate up for tasting through the rest of the flight. It did with me. What’s next I wondered?
Time then for Sauvignon Blanc two ways—from the Russian River and from Dry Creek. Taft Street sources their grapes from a myriad of vineyards around the area. This was a unique experience to see how the grape grows differently between the two AVAs (American Viticultural Area). It might take a few sips to determine the difference, especially if you’re new to Sauvignon Blanc. Thankfully, the tasting staff can guide you through both.
Sauvignon Blanc reminds me of summer time. And speaking of summer time (how about that sequator?) Taft Street has Sunday afternoon concerts in the summertime, June through August. I’d been to one years ago, but after a few sips of the SB it somewhat reminded me that I need to get back this summer.
Chardonnay and Pinot filled out the middle of the tasting sheet followed by Zinfandel. For all the times I find Pinot being poured in Dry Creek, I should be more pleasantly surprised of the Zins being made in the Russian River. The Zin grapes at Taft Street are sourced from Lodi, an equally competitive Zin locale located closer to Sacramento than San Francisco. It’s hotter out there, which turns out a bit more jam-like qualities to the Zin. The tasting staff called it a quintessential Lodi Zin, which I agreed with. But wait, there’s more.
Another bottle also featured Zin but with a blend of Petite Sirah thrown in. Being under 75% of either varietal, it’s officially a blend, but the Zin will dominate it with the Petite Sirah give it a unique twist, darkening the brighter berries in the palate.
All in all it’s a great portfolio to taste through. Rumors are that I missed the rosé by weeks. I guess I’m going to have to make another run down to the winery in the near future and over the summer when the the bands and the Sauvignon Blanc is unscrewed.
Bottles start at $18.