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HandCraft Chardonnay 2012
As part of one of California’s oldest winemaking families, Cheryl has been in the wine industry since she was a little girl, doing odd jobs at the winery and in the vineyards with her siblings and cousins. Today, that group of hard working kids represents the current leadership of DFV Wines: the third generation of the family owned and operated vineyards and wineries.
Originally built on the hard work of patriarch Gasparé Indelicato, the company went from farming grapes to making its first vintage of wine in 1935 after Prohibition ended. “We have such a strong family tradition with wine, and that’s important to me,” Cheryl explains. “My grandfather, Gasparé, learned winemaking from his father. And my Dad and his brothers learned it from Gasparé. I knew I would work toward continuing that legacy.”
Although Cheryl grew up working at the winery, her parents insisted that all of “Generation Three” graduate from college and gather outside experience by working elsewhere for at least three years before coming back to the family business. Taking this sage advice, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business in 1989 from California State University, Stanislaus and a Registered Nursing degree in 1985.
It did not take long for Cheryl to return to the winery. Launching her official career in 1990, she worked in various facets of the business; from sales and marketing to human resources to public relations and is now proprietor for HandCraft wines.
HandCraft wines provide Cheryl with the opportunity to recreate the fruit forward, delicious wines that she remembered on the family table when she was growing up. A dash of Italian varietals are added to the final wine blends and the result is simply delicious. It’s what makes HandCraft wines easy to enjoy, distinctive and memorable.
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.