York Creek Vineyards, San Francisco?

by Stevie on October 5, 2009

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Anchor Steam Brewery

Anchor Brewing Company

Last week while walking to my gym, I happened across a flier for York Creek Vineyards. They offered an open house and free wine tasting at their Mariposa and De Haro Street winery here in San Francisco last Friday, October 2. We always enjoy wine tasting and since we live in the same neighborhood (Potrero Hill) you can’t really get more local than that.

I’m a little puzzled by this winery—or “vineyard” as they display on their web site and labels of wine. This Fritz Maytag operation, billed as a “grower’s winery,” has grapes sourced from Napa on Spring Mountain as well as Sonoma but the grapes are made into wine in San Francisco in the shadow of the perhaps more easily recognized Anchor Brewing Company, also owned by Mr. Maytag. Is this a Napa winery, a San Francisco winery or what? Does where you process the grapes into wine matter in terms of the final product? Could one, for instance, take grapes grown in Bordeaux, ship them to California where they’re made into wine, then label it St. Estephe? Would the French object to such a plan?

Nomenclature aside, this was a marvelous opportunity to see a working winery almost in our own back yard. The grower’s winery part is about York Creek’s attempts to make smaller batches of wine using more varieties of grapes treated in different ways to learn more about the wines.

party at York Creek

party at York Creek

I couldn’t learn that much about the winery at the party so looked at their web site. There, I read on and on about the wine making techniques. The writer kept referring to himself throughout without actually identifying himself; though he named his original wine maker, Cathy Corison, and later, his assistant winemaker, Tom Holmes. I had to look more closely at the awards section to confirm that Fritz Maytag was even directly involved and I’m still not sure. My impression is that he is the owner/winemaker. You guys need an editor for your web site!

The winery is in the building across the street from the famous Art Deco brewery. When we got there it was already crowded. Tasting was free and they offered cheese and crackers. The cheese was a blue and though it was never said anywhere, I assume that it must have been a Maytag blue. All of the wines were red and there was a port, which we didn’t try. We overheard others saying that it was “very sweet” so we decided to pass. There were some tours going on around us and we caught snatches of them. It was pretty cool to watch one of the guys, perhaps Tom Holmes, beating down the grape cap on one of the smallish tanks.

used York Creek bottles

used York Creek bottles

Cuvee SC Red Wine: These grapes are grown in Sonoma County just over the border from the vineyards’ Spring Mountain holdings using Portuguese varietals like Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Roriz.

It was reddish purple with tobacco notes. It had a long lingering finish with earthy and leather flavors. Really neither of us enjoyed this wine.

MXB Zinfandel Blend 2006: This has Carignane with Zinfandel.

The wine was a very dark color with no obvious aroma. It had a long finish with a burnt earthy ending. We couldn’t detect any fruit. There were a lot of tannins. We were not fans.

Petit Verdot 2004: This was purple to black in color. Hegui thought it smelled of “camphor.” It had coffee and mocha notes with a little fruit on a thick frame with a long finish.

Cabernet Franc 2006: This was a reddish purple color and was by far the most accessible of the wines we tried. It has noticeable cherry and stone fruit with a thick body and a supple long finish. Both of us enjoyed it. It was my favorite of the lot.

Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2006: This is 83% cabernet sauvignon with 10% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 3% petit verdot. The winery served it decanted.

It was a deep red color, with non-specific fruit and pepper. It was full bodied with a medium finish and a very noticeable “tannic pucker.” It needs more age.

All of the wines could benefit from some cellar time. They seemed to have a very French style though we noticed the Spring Mountain region in the taste too. This was a great after work experience. Thanks Fritz Maytag for an excellent party!

tasting York Creek

tasting York Creek

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ritatower February 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Looks like a lot of fun!

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