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Toasted Head Cabernet Syrah 1999
Where the heck is Yolo County?
Yolo County may not be a major destination for wine lovers, but that's okay by us. Our neighbor to the west, Napa County, gets all the tourists, while Sacramento County, to the east, gets all the politicians (and hot air!). We're in between, in one of California's original 27 counties, which has stayed a rural oasis that is now home to a large community of artists and craftspeople, as well as California's greatest concentration of organic farmers. The name Yolo is from the native Poewin Indian word "yo-loy," meaning "abounding in the rushes," but some locals insist it's an acronym for "You Only Live Once."
Our estate vineyards in Yolo's Dunnigan Hills, a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) on the eastern side of California's Coast Range Mountains, are perched on rolling hillsides with well-drained gravelly loam soils. It gets warm in the Dunnigan Hills in summer, but cooling breezes from the Sacramento Delta and San Francisco Bay reduce evening temperatures to between 55° and 65° F. This enables our grapes to cool down quickly at night, preserving their fresh flavors and crisp natural acidity.
For over 30 years, the farms around here have supplied northern California's finest restaurants and farmer's markets with a cornucopia of delicious, organically grown fruits, vegetables and nuts. At Toasted Head, we're proud to have added fine wine to the menu.
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.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.