Jim and Mary Yamakawa have farmed grapes in Carneros for over 50 years, and their property has the comfortable feel of a particularly well tended parcel. These are immaculately groomed vines on clay-loam soil, laden with gravel deposited by an ancient tributary of Sonoma Creek. The fruit was a nice fit in our Carneros Chardonnay blend, along with grapes from the Sangiacomo family's Kiser Ranch and the lower elevation block of El Novillero. Barrel fermented with full malo-lactic fermentation, and then aged 10 months in our custom-made French oak barrels, the wine is readily appealing and already displays that agreeable combination of tropical fruit, butterscotch and glycerin.
" Bold, rich and concentrated, with loads of spice, honeysuckle, fig and melon, finishing with a long, detailed aftertaste that reveals hints of citrus and hazelnut." 90 Points
- Wine Spectator Weekly
Begun in 1992 by Bruce and Barbara Neyers and their winemaking partner, Ehren Jordan, Neyers Vineyards produces 15,000 cases of wine annually. They rely primarily on Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the Neyers' 50-acre Conn Valley ranch farmed by Hugo and Lupe Maldonado. Additioanl grapes are purchased from a select group of growers, several of which are identified on the labels of wines produced from grapes they have grown. In 1999 Neyers purchased the 30-acre Sage Canyon Winery in the foothills east of Rutherford and have developed that facility for their entire production that also includes Syrah, Grenache, Zinfandel and Chardonnay.
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Technically a part of Napa Valley, the Carneros region straddles both Sonoma & Napa counties. It's the Napa region closest to the San Francisco peninsula and the San Pablo Bay, which is instrumental in controlling the climate of the area. The winds from the San Pablo bay create a cool weather pattern ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Carneros are delicate, yet complex, with firm structure and acidity. And while the pair are the most popular varieties of the region, some winemakers have branched out, particularly with Syrah. The cool climate Syrah of Carneros is well structured and stylistically similar to Syrah from the Northern Rhone, though often fuller-bodied.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.