The Ultimate Art & Wine Pairing

 At Eric Kent Wines one will find artistry both inside and outside the bottle.

Over ten years ago, husband and wife team Kent Humphrey and Colleen Teitgen set out on a two-part mission to create premium wine, and to also offer exposure to emerging artists. What resulted is the incomparable smash-up of fine art and fine wine that is Eric Kent Wines.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.06.02 PMAs curator and producer of labels for Eric Kent Wines, Colleen Teitgen’s goal is to “feature exceptional art on our labels and share each artist's story with you.” The art she features includes a broad range of mediums; from illustrations, painting, and sculpture, to collage, photography, and even poetry.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.03.08 PMThe elegant packaging is just the beginning. The wines at Eric Kent are world class. Winemaker Kent Humphrey humbly credits the vineyard owners and managers with achieving the quality his wines express. He lets the uniqueness in the fruit he sources guide the winemaking. The result is the best show of appreciation a winemaker can offer the “unsung heroes” that provide him with premium raw materials: hand-crafted small lots of unparalleled quality and distinction. While the focus at Eric Kent Wines is primarily Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, they recognize that every separate lot will take on a personality of its own. “We approach each wine as an individual wine, offering its own unique expression.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.00.45 PMThe respect they have for their growers extends to their fans as well. One third of the wine they produce is sold through their allocation list, which Kent says was designed to be the “anti-list.” While other small fine wine producers tout exclusivity, Eric Kent Wines wants everyone to share in what they have to offer. When you sign up for their list online, you customize it so that you can sample as little or as much as their limited supply will allow.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.02.13 PMBut, like many of our great local Santa Rosa producers, the supply of Eric Kent Wines is limited. They’re currently producing about 4000 cases annually; a mix of varieties and styles as eclectic as the art that adorns their labels. While they have no permanent set up to host tastings, they’re happy to offer tastings and tours by appointment at their Santa Rosa facility.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.04.58 PMFor more information, or to set up an appointment to sample their wines, visit them online at www.erickentwines.com or call (415)244-9453.


Hobo Wine Company

Kenny Likitprakong (sound it out) has been making wine under his Hobo Wine Company label since 2002. Driven by wanderlust, Kenny took Hobo from the Monterey Coast, to the mountains of Santa Cruz, to Potter Valley, and everywhere in between. Speaking of his youth, Kenny said, “I think I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties chasing the rambling ways of the American Hobo.”

Grenache
In that tradition, he was reluctant to call any one place his home, making his wine in custom crush facilities and barrel cellars of welcoming wineries throughout northern California.

tumblr_nphrf4421U1r4n09co1_500This rootless existence, however, had its advantages. Kenny had the flexibility to choose the grape, vineyard, appellation, and the winery on an ongoing basis. He added, “And with a larger circle of people involved you get more ideas and expertise.”

But some journeys come to an end, and in 2013 Hobo Wine Company put down roots. It should be noted that Kenny is something of a walking contradiction. He’s meticulous and painstaking in his winemaking, but relaxed and casual in his demeanor. Warehouse4

His newly completed facility, a refurbished downtown warehouse, reflects that spirit; part club house, part state-of-the-art artisanal winery at its finest. “The best thing about small-lot winemaking is the fun. You can do anything you want,” he said.

In addition to the Hobo Wine Company brand, Kenny and his small crew developed an eclectic number of spin-off brands that reflect the diversity in the wines they are producing.

HOBO_grandeThe original Hobo wines are all Sonoma County, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, showcasing the varied qualities from the countless appellations across the county.

CAMP_grandeThe Camp label is Sonoma County as well, but the focus is on value. Working with some talented growers from lesser-known vineyards, the Camp wines are food friendly and affordable.

Banyan_grandeSpeaking of food-friendly, Hobo Wine Company created Banyan with the cuisine of Southeast Asia in mind. Originally offering a number of aromatic whites, the line has been trimmed down to just their most popular wine, the Banyan Monterey County Gewürztraminer.

FolkMachine_grandeFolk Machine started as their Pinot Noir focused brand, but quickly became host to more esoteric varietals like Chenin Blanc, Charbono, and Tocai Friulano.

MakeWork_grandeMakeWork is Hobo Wine Company’s experimental brand, featuring extremely small lots of wines that may (or may not) become a permanent member of the Hobo Wine Company family.

You can find Hobo Wine Company brands all over Sonoma County but Kenny and his crew are happy to host private tastings. Just off the railroad tracks (of course) Hobo Wine Company is located at 412 Timothy Road, Suite C, in Santa Rosa. Call Kenny at (707)887-0833 for an appointment or email kenny@hobowines.com

 


Can You Keep A Pinot Secret?

The meteoric rise of Pinot Noir’s popularity in recent years has led to some misguided efforts with the wine world’s most temperamental varietal.

Consequently, the good stuff is hard to come by. Mostly because Pinot Noir is notorious for its intolerance. To make premium quality Pinot requires nothing short of perfect growing conditions. That means that finding the ideal site for a vineyard is like striking gold.

IMG_9319For decades, Sonoma County has attracted its fair share of prospectors searching for the mother lode. Some wine producers were lucky enough to have staked their claim early, long before the rush of recent years. Those producers’ names are known the world over, but good luck getting your hands on any of their coveted fare. They all tend to share one thing in common: they’re tiny. When you find a great one that’s yet undiscovered, don’t go writing about it on the internet if you plan to keep some for yourself.

Take Fogline Vineyards for example…


The team at Fogline launched their label in 2009 and only recently opened their tasting room in northern Santa Rosa on River Road, a stone’s throw west of Highway 101 (just past the Vintner’s Inn). You won’t find a well-appointed chateau there, but you will find the Pinot Noir you’ve been looking for. Don’t tell anybody.

Each one of their offerings is distinctive, ranging from elegant and bright, to complex, structured, and earthy. They focus on single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and produce just around 1000 cases annually, so there’s not a lot to go around. They have a beautiful Chardonnay and a rich, ripe Zinfandel as well, but the Pinots are the highlight and the reason to keep going back.

zzdata-FogSiteLOGO2_BRANDCOLOR_SM0If you must share this find, feel free, but know that once word gets out about Fogline, we’ll be fighting to get on that list. Best to go soon and get ‘em while you can.

www.foglinevineyards.com

 


Little Italy is alive and well and making great wine.

A palatial French chateau of the Entre-Deux-Mers, flanked by the Dordogne to the east and the Garonne to the west. Not so much.

D’Argenzio Winery is a classic Italian American winery of Santa Rosa, flanked by Highway 101 to the east and an abandoned railroad track to the west. It is urban wine country at its finest.

If your wine country dream was to see impressive architecture, then go to Napa and stare at the walls. If, instead, your dream was to experience handcrafted artisanal wines of distinction and quality, then D’Argenzio Winery is the place to start.

paigegreenSantaRosa82213-0053There’s something about this place that harkens back to the days when this area, just down from the Santa Rosa Depot, was known as “Little Italy”. The welcoming is warm, the wines are as fun to talk about as they are to drink, and there’s the sense that the tasting room crew (many of whom are D’Argenzio family members themselves) would be heartbroken if you didn’t leave happy. In a nutshell, it’s pure Italian hospitality.

paigegreenSantaRosa82213-0049Even though the setting is decidedly urban, the winery is nothing to shrug about. It’s a spacious and beautiful working winery, with tables inside and out if you want to relax and enjoy pizza and antipasto served by Cibo Rustico Pizzeria just across the way. On the back patio, surrounded by olive trees, is a bocce ball court where they host their weekly “Wine Down Thursdays” with live music and bocce ball, and serve wood-fired pizzas with some of the more exclusive wines from their portfolio.

paigegreenSantaRosa82213-0043And then of course there is the wine. The family is as committed to making world class wines as they are to playing hosts. The wines at D’Argenzio are the kind that would be impossible to make at a large scale winery. It’s obvious these wines are carefully and meticulously nurtured from vine to bottle into something displaying true handcrafted character. Each of their wines has its own unique complexity and structure, and yet they all share a common rustic elegance. Despite their micro-winery level of production (just 3000 cases a year) the wine list ranges from Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, vineyard-designated Russian River Pinot Noirs, and old vine Zinfandels, to classic Italian varietals like Sangiovese, Barbera, Aglianico, and Sagrantino. When you visit, plan on staying awhile.

paigegreenSantaRosa82213-0038For more details on wines and happenings at the winery, check out their website at DArgenzioWine.com