Our tasting room has been closed for 8 weeks now. However, our vineyards are full of spring energy. We invite you to think about a year in the life of a grape vine. But first, pour a glass of wine.
While you sip, imagine walking through an old growth vineyard in midwinter. It looks barren. The stumpy vines are twisted and hunched over, broken looking and defeated. It is as though life is on pause. They will sit with their roots grabbing the earth, reaching 20 feet or more down between slate, shale, and hard clay, brittle barnacles on an unforgiving landscape. They will ride out torrential rain, flooding, hail beating down and ripping off bark. They will gleam in the frost that turns each vine into a fantastically contorted ice sculpture, twinkling as they melt and drip in the morning sunlight, which will come earlier and earlier each day with the coming of spring, until one day it will shine upon a tiny shoot with a feathered green tip bursting forth from underneath the tufty bark. Just like that, the wait for life is over -- the promise of a new harvest held in the great vine's new little appendage, barely larger than a daisy petal.
In a few short months this shoot and others like it will have grown into long branches covered in crisp fresh leaves, each unfurling like a yawn and stretch greeting the morning as though after a long refreshing night's sleep that lasted the whole winter, growing so vigorously that they will have to be trained into a trellis lest they collapse under their own weight, so zealously do they worship and pursue the sun. And then, after a long summer of sunbathing and dancing in the breeze, they will celebrate by crowning themselves in little white flowers - nothing garish, nothing compared to the roses which grow around them, but the rose, another vine, the rose's yearly roses are its great triumph, they are its final bow, but this vine's flowers are a dainty herald of what is to come, like those thrown before the feet of newlyweds. In the same moment that the flowers fade, they are replaced by the smallest little inkling of a grape cluster, what will become each grape barely a green fleck, but the vine's summer has not been wasted, and it will give all that it has into swelling and plumping out those grapes, safe under a canopy of leaves.
That these grapes, untouched by the hand of man, will catch the necessary airborne yeasts upon their skins such that when their skins, whether by falling to the ground or the peck of a bird or under the pressure of their own plumpness, become torn, the juice inside will start to ferment, and wine will be made with nature as the vintner - this is the reason why so many have come to worship wine, and the aiding of the natural process of winemaking in whatever human way we are able can feel for those who participate like they are serving some divine process. If we could help flowers to bloom, we would. For us, assisting a vine create its yearly wine is equally humble before the wonder of nature.
We know that grape wine consumption stretches back a minimum of 8,000 years. As an annual process it has captured the imaginations of dreamers since humanity first recorded its thoughts for posterity. While the labor of the modern vintner is essential in crafting the balanced, ageable, and delectable wines some of us are lucky enough to take for granted, wine is fundamentally made in the vineyard. When a vine has successfully taken hold and grown its roots deep, there are very few forces in nature that can upset its annual cycle of apparent death and rebirth. The vine knows how to make the most of the good times of the summer months. And it knows how to rest and bide its time during the winter. We have tried to learn something profound from this pattern for thousands of years: for the Ancient Greeks, the god Dionysus was the god of death and rebirth, and also of wine, an elixir which, made through the magical bubbling process of fermentation, has rightly appeared as a miracle in broad daylight to hundreds of generations of winemakers. The lesson of the vine is of the value of patience. It is of the inevitability of life ultimately flourishing year after year.
The lesson of wine is that some good things can be stored and kept for when the good times are less easy to come by, for midwinter evenings when the long days of carefree summer seem impossibly distant.
While so much is on pause for so many right now, we invite you to have faith in the lesson of the vine, while enjoying the lesson of wine. Enjoy the bottles in your cellar. Pull out the good vintages, the good memories, and revisit them. And know that the vine promises there will be more to come. And when this worldwide winter is over we will grow and flourish and enjoy our time in the sun all the more. We look forward to toasting to the sun, and life, and to all the new heroes among us when that time comes. We wish you well, and how that you are sharing small joys with people that you care about, and are drinking good wine, and above all, staying safe and well.
What comes to mind when you think of the word “noble?” Perhaps you’re thinking kings, queens, and all things royalty. It may be less likely that the word “noble” made you think of grapes, but in our world, that’s exactly where our minds go.
The world of wine offers its own version of royalty, and Yorkville Cellars is home to said royalty. For the past 25 years, we have been growing grapes and making wine from all six of the noble reds that originate from the highly acclaimed Bordeaux region of France. These six grape varietals include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménère. We are one of the only wineries outside of France that produce ALL SIX of the Bordeaux red grapes, so it’s only fair that we give you a little rundown on each of these noble reds and what makes ours so special.
Now, before we dive in, it’s important to note that some Bordeaux grapes are typically used to create blends. It’s not often that these grapes are used to produce single varietal wines, but we believe in the uniqueness of these grapes and the terroir that they are grown in, so we do just that. It has allowed us to produce wines that truly capture the essence of the grapes.
So, without further adieu… Introducing the Noble Reds of Yorkville Cellars:
First on our list is Cabernet Franc, or in royal terms, the King of the noble reds. This grape is often seen as the “other” Cabernet but comes first in the Cabernet family lineage. It is parent to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Although similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, it buds out slightly earlier in the spring and also tolerates cooler growing conditions. This varietal is characterized by its food-friendliness and versatility. It is a highly aromatic wine with rich fruit flavors and continues to be a favorite among our wine club members. Our 2016 vintage is blended with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon to give it structure, but not too much that it masks the delightful flavors of the Cabernet Franc. Our favorite dish to pair with Cab Franc is roast pork with caramelized onions and garlic mashed potatoes. Yum!
Moving down the noble lineage brings us to our Prince, the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is believed that sometime around the 17th century in Bordeaux, France, a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc occurred when the vines first propagated. Some see Cabernet as the awkward kid who eventually grows up to be attractive and refined. It’s the most famous red grape in the world now, so this Prince definitely made a name for himself. It produces consistently robust and structured wines, with the ability to age gracefully. Our 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon presents flavors of delicious black cherries and holds a Gold Medal from the S.F. Chronicle Wine Competition. Pair this wine with beef-based dishes and strong cheeses for a delicious and complementary experience.
The most approachable of the royal family is Merlot. A true Princess in nature, this grape is known for being soft, ripe and elegant. Merlot adds softness and luscious fruit when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and is also wonderful to enjoy on its own. The name Merlot is perhaps derived from merle, French for blackbird, as the birds love the sweet, plump berries. Newbies to the wine drinking world are often advised to start with Merlot because of its fruit-forward flavors. We have wonderful terroir to grow Merlot, as well as the hot days and cooler nights that it needs to reach its true potential. Our 2015 vintage is secretly everyone’s favorite, and in good sibling rivalry fashion, Merlot decided to one-up Prince Cab with a Double Gold Medal from the S.F Chronicle Wine Competition.
If you’re looking for something with more of a fighting spirit, meet Malbec, our Knight in shining armor. As with all of the Noble Reds, Malbec was born in Bordeaux, France but the roots were easily susceptible to rot and didn’t fare as well in France’s climate. Instead of dying out, though, it put up a good fight and has steadily grown in popularity. It is most popular in Argentina where it has become their signature grape. It is known for its dark fruit flavors and smoky finish. It’s also referred to as the “Black Wine” because of its intensely deep color. Ultimately, it is a wine of great structure with rich-fruit quality. We love Malbec so much that we have produced 21 consecutive vintages of the Rennie Vineyard Malbec. Our 2015 vintage is a nicely matured wine perfect for steak night and is “Highly Recommended” by Tastings.com.
Petit Verdot closely translates to “little green one,” and as the saying goes, “though it be but little, it is fierce.” Since it is not quite as popular or widely produced as the other Noble Reds, we’ll call this fierce grape the Marquess of the noble bunch. These grapes can be difficult to properly ripen, yet plantings of Petit Verdot are on the rise because the grapes produce bold flavors that can add a layer of mystery and depth to Bordeaux style blends. It is typically added to only 10% of most wine blends. But in true Yorkville Cellars fashion, we decided to produce it as a single varietal wine and continue to be one of the few wineries in California to do so. Our 2015 vintage received two silver medals and is “Highly Recommended” by Tasting.com.
The last of the Noble Reds is the Carménère varietal. This would be a situation where the second cousin twice removed pops up out of nowhere and swears they have royal blood somewhere in their lineage. Basically, it was thought to be extinct in France but then found new life in the hills of Chile. It is an extremely rare grape that has seductive dark chocolate aromas with undertones of pepper and earth. It is said to produce wines that resemble the blends of Bordeaux, all from a single grape. Our 2015 vintage is also “Highly Recommended” by Tasting.com. We are proud to be one of only a couple California wineries that offer the delightful Carménère wine varietal.
As we bid you adieu…
We hope that when you think of nobility, you think of this complex family tree of grapes, full of rich history and uniqueness. The terroir of Yorkville Cellars in Mendocino County has made a nice home for this noble family, and we’d love for you to come by and taste our lineup of these six noble reds. You can even choose a reserve tasting that involves a playful blind tasting game of “Name That Varietal”!
Allow us to formally introduce you to Amber Folly, one of our favorite wines here at Yorkville Cellars. And no, you’re not seeing things, this really is an orange wine! Not white, not Rosé — orange.
At first glance, some might assume that this wine isn’t made from grapes or that maybe it’s some new, trendy blend, but orange wine is actually just as ancient as red or white, albeit untraditional. Surprisingly, it dates back some 5,000 years, but we can all roughly agree that its big revival came about in the Republic of Georgia in 1998 when two Italian winemakers believed that white grapes were capable of producing more complex flavor profiles than previously known in winemaking. This belief led to an experiment, which ultimately led to an orange wine! It’s this untraditional production method, however, that lends a certain magic to the end result
While orange wine can be made from any number of white grape varietals, our orange wine starts with golden Sémillon grapes, which are native to France’s Bordeaux region. The crop is beautiful and heavy on the vine, but it’s the vinification technique that creates the eye-catching copper color in the glass. While Sémillon grapes are a white varietal, they’re handled like red grapes when it comes to the production of orange wine at Yorkville Cellars. With a typical harvest of white grapes, the skins are removed before fermentation begins. But after the Sémillon meets the crush pad we don’t touch the skins. We leave them in the liquid during fermentation just as we would for a red varietal. That’s the secret to the intense orange hue and the lingering tannic structure that you won’t find in Rosés.
The phenolics (compounds that ultimately affect the taste, color, and mouthfeel of the wine) trapped in the grape skins, soak with the juice in our open-top fermenting bins creating not only dynamic color but also flavor. It takes about two weeks for ambient native yeasts to convert the grape sugars to alcohol. Then after a few months of aging in French oak barrels, we are rewarded with a complex, rustic structure of wild honeysuckle, peaches, and apricots in our Amber Folly.
At Yorkville Cellars, we pride ourselves on making outstanding wine, and the Amber Folly is no exception. The Sémillon’s tannins are more subtle than in a red, but the natural layers of stone fruit, flowers, and nectar are slightly more pungent than in a typical white. The elegance of this vintage, orange wine is a perfect intervention between its red and white counterparts, both in color and in taste. If you’re looking for the perfect dish to pair with our Amber Folly, we suggest foods with hearty and robust flavor profiles, like eggplant curry or spicy cowboy beans.
Ready to give orange wine a try? You’re in luck - we just released our third vintage of the Amber Folly and it’s definitely calling your name. Get yours soon, while supplies last!
With Rosé season winding down, we can’t help but ponder over the complexities and wonders of this popular summer wine. Like the fact that Rosé has become quite a big deal in the world of wine and has greatly evolved over the years. From a sweet, candy-like wine to dry and sophisticated Rosés, hopefully, you’ve found a style to fill up your wine tumbler for the past three months. So, if you’ve joined in on the “Rosé all day” phenomenon, we think it would be helpful for you to know a thing or two–or rather four–about this lovable varietal! Time to grab a glass of your favorite Rosé (preferably Yorkville) and discover the four different ways to make Rosé.
LIMITED SKIN MACERATION
Limited Skin Maceration is the most popular method used for producing high-quality Rosé wines, so most likely you have tasted this style. The process is exactly what it sounds like. The grapes are gently crushed and the juice is left to soak with the skin of the grapes for a limited amount of time (between 2 hours to 2 days) as opposed to weeks or months for red wine. The amount of time the juice is left soaking with the skins will ultimately determine the overall color and flavor. For instance, the longer the maceration, the darker or more richly flavored the Rosé will be in your glass. It just so happens that our Vin D’une Nuit is made with this method. The grapes are sourced earlier than most so that the sugar level in the grapes are low. The skins then remained on the juice for a few hours on the evening of its harvest. This entire process lends itself to a light, dry, and vibrant Rosé with flavors of crushed pineapple and under-ripe cherries. It’s the perfect example of a Rosé produced by way of limited skin maceration.
This method involves bleeding, but don’t worry, only the wine has to bleed. Why? Good question! This method involves “bleeding” off a portion of red wine juice after it’s been in contact with the skins and seeds. It’s an unusual method when it comes to making Rosé. It is most often thought of as a by-product of red winemaking and its primary function is to increase the concentration of red wines, making it the most unique method of the four. When this method is used, it produces much darker and bolder flavors than that of a typical Rosé. So if you’re generally not a fan of this wine because of its lighter qualities, a Rosé made through the saignée method may be your exception!
Next, let’s dive into a more traditional approach to making Rosé. This method is very similar to limited skin maceration as the juice is left in contact with the skins for a limited amount of time. Grapes are grown and selected exclusively for Rosé production, and often crushed as whole clusters. It’s impossible for the juice to have no contact with the skin, but this method comes close. The grapes are pressed right away to remove the skins, as a white wine would be vinified, resulting in an extremely light-colored Rosé with perfumed aromatics and flavors of strawberry and grapefruit.
Red and white make pink! This method is done by blending about 95% red wine with 5% white wine to make a Rosé of sorts. We say this because the practice to blend wines post-fermentation is not preferred and is actually prohibited in Europe. Champagne, France, however, is allowed to use this method to make Rosé Champagne. Regardless of vinification laws around the world, this is the least used method for producing Rosé.
Now that you’re an expert on the four styles of Rosé wine, it’s time to make your own… Just kidding, leave that part to us! We promise we’ll continue to satisfy your Rosé cravings with our Vin D’une Nuit Rosé and Rosé of Petit Verdot. If you haven’t tried them yet, now’s the time. After all, summer’s not over yet!
Winners Announced Oct. 2019
Mendocino County is full of small towns and winding roads twisting throughout the Northern California mountains. Many don’t realize how many beautiful wonders there are to see here, making it quite the hidden gem when considering places to visit in California. For this reason, and many more, we are teaming up with some of our neighbors to give one lucky pair the opportunity to explore, taste, eat, and play their way through Mendocino County. Keep reading to learn about what you can win by entering to win this one-of-a-kind sweepstake!
Grand Prize - NOTE: Winners Announced Oct. 2019
2 Nights / 3 Days for Two Guests at the Stanford Inn by the sea
Mendocino’s Stanford Inn & Ravens Restaurant is North America’s only sustainable eco-resort overlooking the beautiful Mendocino Bay and the inn’s historic farm. It is an exquisite resort that allows guests the opportunity to reconnect with nature and each other. With your stay, you will also enjoy two complimentary breakfasts and one dinner at the Ravens Restaurant. Inspired by the Stanford’s Certified Organic gardens, Ravens Restaurant, featured in Oprah Magazine, is outstanding and nationally acclaimed for gourmet plant-based cuisine. It is the essential dining experience on the Mendocino Coast.
But wait, there’s more! The Stanford Inn will also offer a leisurely canoe adventure for two down the Big River where you will truly immerse yourself in the surrounding nature. You may even see some local wildlife, like the harbor seals and river otters.
VIP organic vineyard tour, wine tasting, and private lunch with the owners of Yorkville Cellars | Celebrating 25 harvests.
Not only will you get to explore the Mendocino coastline, but you will also venture into Mendocino wine country! At Yorkville Cellars, the owners are looking forward to hosting the two lucky winners with an in-depth guided tour of our certified organic vineyards. Throughout the tour, we promise to pass along valuable insight and wisdom on all things grapes, vines, and Bordeaux varietals. After your walk through our vineyards, we know you’ll be hungry and ready to taste through our portfolio of wines– that’s when you’ll be treated to a delicious lunch and VIP wine tasting experience.
Once you’ve finished your tasting experience and determined which wines are your favorites, we’ll pack them up in a 12-bottle VinGardeValise® wine suitcase, provided by FlyWithWine, and send you on your merry way!
Dinner for two at the Albion River Inn Restaurant
Showcasing the coastal cuisine of Chef Stephen Smith, Albion River Inn Restaurant celebrates California's local bounty– indulge in fresh seafood, locally grown produce, wild mushrooms, fruit, and succulent entrees. Large windows provide spectacular ocean views from every table, and a cozy fireplace and burnished bar lend a soft romantic glow to the tastefully decorated interior. This dinner will be a memorable one, to say the least!
Two tickets to ride the historic Skunk Train
Northern California is most famous for its growth of the redwood trees, the largest and tallest trees in the world, which is why we can’t let you leave Mendocino without seeing them! Since 1885, the historic Skunk Train has made its way through old-growth redwood groves, over scenic trestle bridges, through spectacular tunnels, and into the heart of the Noyo River Estuary. You will enjoy the same pristine views that have remained largely unchanged for well over a century.
Last but not least…
Unlimited golf for two w/ a cart at The Little River Inn Golf Course
The expansive feeling of coastal golf will permeate your visit as you enjoy one of Northern California’s most established and hospitable resorts, Little River Inn, which boasts the only golf course on the Mendocino Coast. Tucked among the hills and redwoods, the nine-hole course presents unexpected challenges to golfers. It may be that the stunning ocean views distract first time players, or a wandering deer crossing the putting green. Either way, the distractions are enjoyable ones, to say the least.
Second Prize | 1 winner
12-bottle VinGardeValise® Wine Suitcase from FlyWithWine
The VinGardeValise® wine suitcase is your ultimate wine carrier and allows you to travel confidently knowing that your wine will reach your destination, no matter what - and we mean no matter what!
Third Prize | 3 winners
Gabriel-Glas 6-StemGift Box Gold Edition
Exquisite design, maximum experience! Gabriel-Glas "one-for-all" universal glassware is designed to express the most subtle flavors and aromas of any wine varietal, from Cabernet to Sparkling Malbec. A graceful and functional all-purpose glass, it's the only stemware you need. Beautiful, elegant, and durable, the stunning featherweight mouth-blown Gold Edition Gabriel-Glas is made from lead-free Austrian crystal.
Now’s your chance to enter to win this amazing trip for two to Mendocino County’s coastline and wine country. You’ll also be entered to win the second and third prizes. Head over to our sweepstakes page to enter. Good luck!
Did you know that only about 1% of wine is meant to be aged? Indeed, 99% of wines that you buy are at their peak the day they’re released and meant to be consumed right away. It certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t drink it later (within 3-5 years) after properly storing it, but it does mean that there are no additional benefits to be gained from a long cellaring process. Since this is the case, we thought it would be helpful to answer the questions that are probably buzzing around in your head on the whole aging wine phenomenon. Since you are the who, let's get into the what, where, and why of aging wine.
Or better yet, which wines? There are specific characteristics to look for when deciding whether or not to cellar your wine. These characteristics include acidity, tannin, alcohol level, residual sugar, and surprisingly, the size of the bottle.
Wines with higher acidity tend to last longer. As wine ages, it slowly loses its acid and flattens out–and nobody wants a flat wine! Basically, the higher the acidity, the longer it lasts.
The amount of tannin content matters as well. Red wines with higher tannins tend to age better than lower tannin red wines. Tannins come from contact to the pips and skins during winemaking and also develop during the oak aging process. These grape and oak tannins need to be well-balanced in order for the wine to age well.
Imagine sipping on a glass of vinegar– that’s what you’d get if you aged an unfortified wine with a high percentage of alcohol. Alcohol can be volatile in the aging process and causes wine to turn to vinegar. It’s best to age unfortified wines with an alcohol percentage below 13.5 percent.
It’s more popular to age dry wines but it turns out that the longest-lived wines tend to be sweeter fortified ones such as Port and Sherry. The addition of a spirit, such as cognac in the wine, helps to preserve the wine for much longer than an unfortified wine.
Last but not least, it turns out that size matters when it comes to aging wine! Large format bottles of red wine age more gracefully than wine in standard sized bottles. Sounds crazy, right? Let us explain.
There is less ullage (the empty space between wine and closure) in a large format bottle of wine, so there is a proportionately smaller amount of air inside the bottle. The air is what causes aging through the process of oxidation. Since there is less oxygen relative to the volume of wine in a large format bottle of wine, the wine oxidizes at a slower pace. The slow process of oxidation positively affects aromas and the overall stability of the wine. Also, large format bottles are made with thicker, heavier glass to protect them from heat, light, and travel-related vibrations, which are all wine’s worst enemies. Given proper storage, large format bottles age at half the speed of 750ml bottle. So yes, bigger is better–at least when it comes to aging wine. Plus, who doesn’t love pulling out magnum size bottles to share with others? It’s a celebration in itself! If you’ve never tried a wine that’s been aged in large format bottles, check out our library wines shop where you’ll find a few magnum options to enjoy.
It’s best to age wine in a cool, dark place, but you probably already knew that so we’ll get a little more specific. Most wines are aged in wine cellars, which are typically underground and designed intentionally for aging wine. However, if you don’t have an underground cellar but still want to have a go at aging your wine, here are some things to keep in mind:
- 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature to store wine while aging it.
- Try to avoid temperature swings caused by drafts and/or sunlight.
- High humidity is essential to keeping the cork moist and safe from cracking and letting too much air into the wine.
- The lower the light, the better.
- Leave that bottle alone! Disturbances such as picking up or rotating the wine bottles can disrupt the delicate chain of chemical reactions that leads a wine to mature well.
- Lastly, store the bottle on its side and not upright. It allows the wine to constantly be touching the cork. This is another way to keep the cork moistened and prevents it from drying out.
There are quite a few good reasons to age wine. Perhaps our favorite reason is that a few years of cellaring can make magic happen for a small percentage of quality wines. The additional time in the bottle gives the tannins, acid, fruit, and flavors time to come together to create a beautiful and harmonious song of sorts.
We know you’re probably craving aged wine as much as we are now, so head over to our library wine store where we’ve done the work and patience of aging wine for you. You also won’t have to wait another 10-15 years to fulfill that craving. Cheers and happy aging!
Before: Late 1980s – small vineyard on a hill and a sheep pasture at the entrance
A 25-year journey: smooth sailing, bumps, and highlights. One of the most exhilarating parts of winemaking is that the product itself holds a diary of sorts of the adventure. It's akin to an archeological dig with each vintage unearthing its own record. There are vintages when we intervene to make them happen, and those plain sailing years when we just let them happen.
Certified organic growers since 1986
From the beginning, it was important for us to grow the grapes from which we would produce wine and to do so without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Our hillside vineyard was planted throughout the ‘80s with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Planting Started: Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 1990)
After staking out Rennie Vineyard and erecting our quadrilateral trellis, on Cinco de Mayo in 1990, we planted the five varietals that are the central focus of our production: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Our vision at that time was to make one wine: a Bordeaux style blend. We soon did a U-turn and realized we wanted to bottle each of the five varietals separately. 1994 was our inaugural vintage of these five wines. The following year we produced a lineup that was to become our core: the five Bordeaux reds and two whites. Blends of each became our Royal pair, Richard the Lion-Heart, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Today: our mature vineyards, Randle Hill in the back with white grapes, and Rennie Vineyard in the front with red varietals.
As we learned and grew alongside the vines, we made many additions. Here is a brief look at the highlights:
1997: Our first vintage of Rosé de Franc. The dried herbs and savory quality of Cabernet Franc lent itself to a Rosé. The early wines were dark in color; we called them “Cab-Lite!” Now the grapes go straight to press, so recent vintages are a shimmering pale salmon pink.
Petit Verdot - Almost Unheard of in 1990
2003: We took a bold step and grafted (transplanted) a vineyard block in front of the tasting room to more Malbec and Petit Verdot, plus the elusive Carmenere. It was at this time that we created our unique split vine, grafting Malbec on the north facing cordon and Petit Verdot or Carmenere on the south.
2005: We picked our Carmenere and in 2007 we bottled it. As far as we know, we were the first to produce this varietal in California. This exotic and aromatic wine was an immediate hit.
The distinct crimson leaves of Carmenere grape vines.
2006: It was a bountiful year and the time was right to create a new blend crafted for easy drinking, and so the Hi-Rollr Red was born! It was the plentiful, juicy, big blackberry notes of Malbec that, also in 2006, inspired us to invent a new sweet wine, our Sweet Malbec. While sipping on the juice and testing the Brix (sugar levels) of the fruit, we decided to find a way to preserve that beautiful fresh fruit flavor. Arresting fermentation by chilling the wine traps not only natural grape sugars in the bottle, but a tiny touch of carbon dioxide left over from fermentation that adds a tingle to the sweetness.
2009: This marks the first Late Harvest Semillon wine from Yorkville Cellars. If ever there was a wine that reflected the microclimate of a vineyard, it is a late harvest wine. The noble rot that develops to concentrate both sugar and acidity thrives in cool damp conditions that tend to occur in the fall. But rain will encourage many less noble fungi to develop making perfect conditions rare.
2009 Late Harvest Semillon
2011: This was a challenging year and a bumpy ride for most vineyard owners. A cool and wet spring followed by cooler than usual summer temperatures and earlier October rains yielded a delayed growing season. The silver lining, however, is that the damp cool conditions were again just right for a late harvest wine, and we produced our second and last multi-award-winning late harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend. Accurate forecasting of a cool and foggy year prepared us for the production of our first sparkling wine. The grapes were picked early at low sugar levels and we selected from among all our grape varietals to produce two inaugural bubbles: Malbec for our first Sparkling Malbec; and 50% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon for our Brut Cuvée. The Brut was ready for release for our 20th anniversary in 2014.
2011 Sparkling Malbec
2013: If 2011 was a year for intervention, then this year was the opposite. A perfect and trouble-free year! This was an exceptional vintage, and we confidently set about producing four new wines. 1) Amber Folly is a skin contact Semillon, our first Orange wine. 2) A zingy, fresh Malbec Rosé, also known as Vin D'une Nuit. 3) In recognition of the exceptional vintage, we selected a few rows for our first Reserve Cabernet. 4) Our first vintage of MPV, a Malbec and Petit Verdot blend picked from the same singular vine we grafted together back in 2003.
Caps of Semillon skins are punched down to create our skin-contact “orange wine,” Amber Folly.
We have so enjoyed each twist and turn of this 25-year journey, and we are thankful to share it with so many Yorkville Cellars fans. We’d love to celebrate this milestone with you in the tasting room. We’ll see you soon!
Meet Slate, Our Trusty Tasting Room Mascot
Friendly, loyal, and de facto assistant winemaker, Slate doesn’t run the place, but he sure likes to think he does! From welcoming the guests to herding sheep (well, attempting to…) in the vineyards, he has a lot of tasks that keeps his day-to-day pretty busy. Spending all this time up close to the action, we like to think he knows a thing or two about how to have your best tasting visit at Yorkville Cellars. We chose 5 of our favorite ways you can enjoy wine tasting in Mendocino wine country like Slate does each day!
Tip #1: Explore
Slate is an adventurous little kitty, to be sure. We find him roaming the vineyards early, late, the middle of the day, you name it! Slate has roamed every inch of our 30-acre estate vineyard, and along the way, he’s spotted some interesting things – from ladybugs to bud break each spring. So, how do you walk a mile in Slate’s shoes, you ask? Enjoy the vineyards as Slate does in one of our VIP Tasting Experiences.
On our Organic Vineyard Tour, you will take a hands-on educational walkabout through the vineyards with one of our founders/owners. You’ll learn about farming decisions and taste their effects on the final wine produced as you follow-up your tour with a private tasting. Starting first with several whites and moving on to discover the six Noble Reds, enjoy your tasting paired with fine cheeses and nibbles along the way.
Or, opt for the Progressive Tasting in Our Vineyards, where you not only tour the vineyard but experience wines from the very vines you’re looking at! Swirl, sniff, sip, then touch the grapevines from which each wine is made! At each of the picnic stops, we’ll serve a tasty appetizer, Slate’s favorite part.
Tip #2: Make Friends
Slate is known for his friendliness. One look at the tagged photos on our Instagram feed says it all. Slate is a social media star! Wherever guests are, Slate is, too! And, we think he has the right idea. Of course, we encourage you to make friends with fellow tasting room visitors and share stories of wine country visits. But for our second Slate tip, we’re talking about friends of a different kind. Six months out of the year, we play host to these charming vineyard guests you see above. A huge part of the organic farming cycle, the sheep join us each year to munch on the tall spring grass and fertilize the growing vines. With the herd of sheep, Slate plays the role of sheepherder, but really he just wants to be part of the club. If you’re visiting us in the late winter to mid-spring months, keep an eye out!
Tip #3: Say Yes to Treats
While Slate tends to prefer treats of a different kind, he is keen to come when he hears the treat bag open! Our tasting room treat for you is some delicious artisanal chocolates from a local vendor- add a few to your order. You won't regret it.
Working to perfectly bring out the deep flavors of our six Noble Red varietals, add a few to your order. Trust us; you won’t regret it!
Tip #4: Play Games
Slate is a number of things, but playful is his strong suit. Master of the chase, Slate is always up for a quick game of catch the wine cork and can often be found in the vineyard following our ladybugs. We recommend you get in on the action too… Just in a different way!
Our tasting room game, Name That Varietal, puts the fun in wine tasting, asking you to focus on your senses and your palate. Here’s how it works. Our team will lead you through a blind tasting of our six Noble reds but don’t worry, we let you take notes along the way. You’ll write down what you notice about a particular wine, how it smells, what it tastes like. You’ll guess which glass is which varietal, and then we’ll tell you how you did. The great thing about this game is it interrupts the typical wine tasting routine and allows you to really experience which wines are best suited to your palate.
Tip #5: Make Time for a Cat Nap
The best piece of Slate-approved advice? Prioritize relaxation! After you’ve enjoyed your tasting for the day, it’s time to kick your feet up. Read a book, take a stroll, or sit back and enjoy the view. You’re in wine country, after all. The wine is great, and so is the view! We can’t wait to treat you to a great visit to Mendocino wine country!
Just an hour and 45 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, the adventure, fun, and incredible scenery of Mendocino County await you! The perfect getaway for the weekend–or just for the day–we have a few thoughts on how you can make your next road trip unlike anything you’ve experienced before. And, we promise we have something for Mendo veterans, too! No matter how many times you visit, you’ll always find something new to do.
1. Breakfast at Yorkville Market
Up first on the list? Breakfast at Yorkville Market. Right away, you’re welcomed into the bucolic splendor of Yorkville, CA—population 317. A charming spot right off of Highway 128, Yorkville Market is the perfect place to get settled and plan your day. Munch on hot and crispy breakfast sandwiches while reading the weekly issue of the Anderson Valley Advertiser (arguably one of the last old fashioned newspapers around). Shop local artisan goods and take a look through their curation of some of our favorite local wines. Spot something familiar? We’re proud to have our Hi-Rollr red featured there. Consider packing a sandwich to-go or grabbing some supplies for a picnic later in the day.
2. Taste All 8 Bordeaux Varietals at Yorkville Cellars
We’re happy to call Yorkville the home of our vineyard estate. The San Francisco Chronicle calls us, “The only winery this side of France that grows all eight Bordeaux varietals,” and we produce single varietal wines out of all of them. We celebrated our 26th Harvest this year and are grateful for the many years we’ve been able to make wines you love.
We offer complimentary tastings as well as the option to upgrade your tasting experience by playing Name That Varietal. This interactive tasting room game puts your knowledge to the taste as you blind taste your way through the six Noble Reds, learning more about which varietals you prefer and why!
We also offer VIP Tasting experiences such as a tour of our organic vineyards or a progressive picnic tasting through our vineyards. Club members and up to 5 guests receive one free VIP experience each year.
3. Play Disc Golf at Anderson Valley Brewing
In the wine business, they say it takes a lot of great beer to make good wine, and that’s why we’re lucky to have these neighbors so close by. Just a short jaunt up the road from us, you’ll find Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Much like us, they appreciate the history of Boontling – the linguistic phenomenon created and spoken by locals in the late 1800s. Their slogan, “Bahl Hornin’,” is a way of saying “cheers” in Boontling. Stop by after your visit with us, grab a few discs, and set out to play their 18-Hole Disc Golf Course right on the brewery grounds. Enjoy beer from the Tap Room as you try your hand sinking a few holes-in-one.
4. See Redwoods at Hendy Wood State Park
These gentle giants are sure to make your list of favorite sites in Northern California. Hendy Woods State Park plays guardian to two groves of redwoods, some of which are taller than 300 feet and older than 1,000 years. Great for swimming in the summertime and canoeing or kayaking in the wintertime and with year-round hiking and camping options, Hendy Woods State Park is the perfect choice for experiencing the range that Mendocino County has to offer.
5. Enjoy Dinner at Wild Fish
This incredible restaurant in Little River, CA often plays host to our winemaker dinners but is a perfect spot to enjoy any time of year. Exceptionally curated, each dish at Wild Fish is sustainably sourced and highlights the best of the local fare. The most distinguishing part of their menu? The freshly caught fish, purchased each morning directly off the boats. Placing a focus on collaboration, quality, and community, owners Liz and Kelvin’s phenomenal restaurant is rivaled only by the equally stunning views just outside the restaurant’s doors.
6. BONUS: Bowling Ball Beach
If you choose to return via Highway 1 or if you cross to the coast after your stop in Boonville, this bonus is a can’t-miss destination. This famous beach is renowned for its mysterious round rocks. Slick and scattered across the beach, these oversized bowling balls are most easily spotted at low-tide. There is much speculation in regards to their origin, but the answer is simply that they are a geological phenomenon. Grains of sand are bound together by mineral cements that ultimately create larger formations. Plain and simple, they’re a natural wonder and a crown jewel of Mendocino County.
We can’t wait to see you in the tasting room and to welcome you to Yorkville, CA!