Sean Thackrey

Winery Highlight: Chris Ringland

Winery Highlight: Chris Ringland

Post by Chuck Hayward | February 9nd, 2012

Chris Ringland was surely not prepared for all of this. The popularity, the sudden attention. Working away at a rustic winery where time seemed not only to stand still but actually climbed backwards. He spent that time mentoring young winemakers as they learned the secrets of the Barossa Valley–its vineyards, its people, its history. The last thing he expected was an overflowing fax machine…100 point scores from Parker can do that.

Chris Ringland Surveys his Domain

Justifiably or not, Chris Ringland’s shiraz was catapulted into the global world of wine and things quickly got out of hand. Insane prices. Incessant phone calls. Lots of pot shots. All of this attention resulted in a wine that became bigger than the man and his vines; all thanks to a wine review. The problem is the score regrettably only reflected the wine in the glass. Where was the story? Who was this guy? Where was the information about his plot of dirt? (more…)

Uncovering Treasures Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge

Uncovering Treasures Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge

Post by Chuck Hayward | June 24th, 2011

Tasting through the pinots that were recently poured at the Seventh Annual Marin County Wine Celebration in Larkspur was a revelation. It had been about three years since I last had a chance to immerse myself in the wines from this emerging appellation. And while some of my past impressions were reconfirmed, at the same time, I gained a few fascinating insights that bode well for the region’s future:

Chuck Hayward (r) chats with the legendary Sean Thackrey

The quality of winemaking is at a high level. Yes, it takes good grapes to make great wine, but it also requires skill. Many winemakers working with this fruit are at the beginning of their wine careers, yet with acclaimed vintners like Sean Thackrey and Scott McLeod (ex-Rubicon, now Skywalker) overseeing their crushpads, there is no shortage of star power. Plus, a few  of the winemakers now have around five vintages under their belt and have gained an in-depth understanding of their sites that they can pass on to new vintners. The combination of older vines and increased experience will provide the foundation for excellent wines in the future.

Noticeable characteristics distinguish Marin County pinots. One of the most telltale attributes is the dark color of the finished wines. It turns out that the strong winds which propel the fog into the valleys of Marin and Sonoma make it quite difficult to grow grapes. To protect themselves, the grapes naturally develop thick skins giving the resultant wines lots of pigment and powerful flavors. The prevailing winds also reduce yields by making pollination difficult, which creates smaller bunches at harvest and therefore higher skin/juice ratios. (more…)