With the shutting down of tasting rooms throughout US wine regions, small family wineries are taking a hit. Yes, they have their club members and some other loyal fans, but the tasting rooms bring in new customers. So allow me to introduce you to some of my favorite family-operated wineries and the incredible boutique wine that they make. There is something for every palate in this list. Please give them a try. And tell them that Strong Coffee to Red Wine sent you.
Methven Family Vineyards Does Gamay and So Much More
I had the pleasure of visiting Methven Family Vineyards in August of 2019 at the WWET 2019 Willamette Valley Conference. It was there that I tasted the Gamay Noir and the Rosé of Gamay Noir. Laura, the general manager, struck up a conversation, and I invited her to do a tasting with my private wine club. That happened last March just before the country shut down. It was a huge success.
I have to tell you that you do not find much domestic Gamay (think Beajoulais – its the same grape) wine anywhere and certainly not in many stores. That needs to change, but in the meantime, Oregon’s small boutique wineries make some killer juice that you can only get direct from the wineries. Gamay is the perfect summer red wine because it is best with a bit of a chill on it. Before you drink it, stick it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Then go at it. Yum!!
Recently, they released the 2019 Rosé of Gamay Noir as well as a new to them 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir. The internal reviews are fantastic. As Laura said to me, “These wines are stunning.” I have a couple of bottles of each that are resting to prevent bottle shock, but I will give you my thoughts soon. In the meantime, I’d pick some up real quick because she always sells out.
You can not go wrong with any of Methven Family Vineyards wine. MFV exclusively produces estate varietals of Chardonnay, Gamay noir, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, and Riesling in extremely small lots (thus boutique wine), each hand selected for quality and consistency. They are located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA within Willamette Valley.
Methven Family Vineyards is direct to consumer with online order capabilities.
The Definition of Boutique Wine – SUTRO Wine Co.
I learned of Sutro Wine Co. through a PR friend of mine. I am so glad that she connected me to Alice Sutro. I have sampled the four Cabernet Sauvignon Wines you see in the image below. It is quite a treat to taste wines from different vintages, yet all from the same vineyard and made by the same winemaker. (its called a vertical tasting). All of these wines are all beautiful expressions of the grape.
SUTRO produces 750 cases annually: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. That is it. Total. Done.
Alice’s philosophy of minimal intervention winemaking combined with restrained use of new oak allows the quality of the grapes to shine through the glass. The fruit is sourced exclusively from Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard, where Alice and her family live. The vineyard has been in the family since 1911. Alice’s aunt Margo Warnecke Merck is the Vineyard Manager and Managing Partner. Alice assists her aunt in managing the vineyard and is the first of her family to produce vineyard-designate wines from Warnecke Ranch under the label SUTRO.
I can not tell you much about Sutro’s Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc because when I did the tasting, she had already sold out. That tells me all I need to know.
Sutro Wine Co. is direct to consumer with online order capabilities.
Helioterra Wines – Boutique Wine in an Urban Setting
What can I say about Anne Hubatch and the amazing wine she makes. Based in Portland, OR, Anne operates her winery in the southeast part of the city. She sources fruit from some of the best vineyards in the Pacific Northwest to craft delicious wines, including a few varietals that are more obscure.
I found Helioterra at the Willamette Valley WWET conference last August when I tasted and fell in love with her bottlings of Melon de Bourgogne (aka Muscadet) and her Arneis. I have since had one of her Pinot Noir’s – stunning!. And I have a Pinot Blanc but have not sampled yet.
Her pricing is so affordable that paying for shipping is not an issue because the wines could easily sell for more. She does not have an online store, so go “old school” and call her on the phone to place your order. (503) 757-5881. You will not be sorry.
Acquiesce Winery and Vineyard
Over the past couple of years, Acquiesce Winery kept popping up on my social media feeds. I am a big fan of white Rhône varietals, so I was always intrigued by the glowing recommendations. When Covid-19 hit, I needed a mood booster, so I took the plunge and became a club member. This club is a six (6) bottle shipment, but if you bump it up to a case (12 bottles), you get free shipping. As a result, I got at least one bottle of each of the nine single varietals and blends they sell.
So I have since tried 8 of the nine wines, and without a doubt, I am a HUGE fan. HUGE! This is boutique wine at its finest.
AND You have a chance to taste four (see below) of their wines at my Virtual Tasting On June 25, 2020. Check it out here.
Acquiesce Winery, located in the Lodi Appellation of California, offers award-winning premium white and rosé wines lovingly created in small batches. After selecting the best Rhône varietals, Sue Tipton, winemaker and co-owner (with her husband Rodney) carefully craft these unique wines: Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette Blanche (very rare), Bourboulenc (also very rare), Belle Blanc (white blend), Ingenue (white blend), and Grenache Rosé. Their vines are sourced from the famed Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf du Pape, France, and they show a timeless elegance fused with great fruit expression courtesy of Lodi’s sandy soils and Mediterranean climate.
The Epitome of Boutique Wine – Dracaena Wines
I am not sure you can be much smaller and sell your wine commercially. Dracaena Wines makes three wines, a Cabernet Franc, a Cabernet Franc Reserve, and a Rosé of Syrah. This is a passion project for the husband and wife team, Mike & Lori Budd. It is so small that they both have another job, but this is where their hearts lie, and sometime soon, they will become full-time winemakers. In the meantime, Lori is the hardest working marketer I know, working social media like a machine.
This winery is based in the Paso Robles AVA. I had hoped to pay a visit last April, but Covid put a kibosh on that!
Their Cabernet Franc wines have won a plethora of awards, and I can tell you from experience that they are both extraordinary and affordable. The rosé is also a gem and also at an incredible price.
If you are a fan of Cab Franc, I strongly encourage a purchase. You can do it online right here.
As of today, tasting rooms are reopening in California and have been open in Oregon for a short time, but the impact of the shutdown is still a reality, and it may take months or years to get back to normal. So I want you to shop locally, BUT I also want you to remember the little boutique wineries that were hit hard as well.
That is all I have for now.
Rick & Gary
P.S. Don’t forget to get your kit for the Acquiesce Virtual Wine Tasting to be held on June 25th at 6:30 pm EDT.