Days of Joy

Sarah’s Vineyard celebrates 40 years

NEW PLANS After four decades of winemaking, Sarah’s Vineyard has big things in store for its business.

Tim Slater has been making wine at Sarah’s Vineyard for long enough now, he feels he’s figured it out. An engineer by trade and an artist at heart, he’s a rocket-science level brain, with the capacity to simultaneously carry on multiple conversations on various topics, which serves him well at harvest time.

When Slater bought the place on Hecker Pass in 2001, there were seven acres of chardonnay, made in an elegant, rich style. Ronald Reagan liked it enough to serve at a White House dinner in 1982.

Slater, though, had a thing for pinot noir, sourcing it from some great vineyards while his estate vineyard came online. Then, in 2004, he heeded the call of the Rhone, planting counoise, grenache, mourvèdre, viognier, roussanne, grenache blanc and picpoul blanc, which he says totally takes over his white blend, Jours de Joie. “A little goes a very long way!”

Recently, he planted some charbono. He jokes he’d like to make fun new wines under an entirely different label. “I’m tired of people asking me, ‘Who is Sarah?!’”

That, actually, would be Marilyn “Sarah” Otterman, who found the brand 40 years ago now. She’d be amazed to see Slater’s plans for his new tasting room, a modified Norman castle.

Visit Sarah’s for the Friday night wine, dine and dance series, featuring gourmet food trucks, every Friday, 6-9pm, through Aug. 3. For more information, visit


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Laura Ness is an accomplished freelance writer offering travel tips and commentary on the California wine industry.