At the tail end of our long rainy season the Santa Clara Wine Trail was covered in acres of bright yellow mustard and verdant green hills. I turned off on Redwood Retreat Road, toward Fernwood Cellars—and enjoyed the beauty of mossy trees and swollen streams rushing by.
I imagined the original homesteaders back in 1863 and how they might have marveled to know that, six generations later, their descendants are still producing wines and their scenic grove is still a destination for hundreds of visitors each year.
Matt Oetinger, the winemaker and owner, specializes in Bordeaux-style wines that are food friendly and easy drinking. His 2011 Estate Chardonnay Vanumanutagi ($32) is aged in 100 percent French oak barrels for less than a year, producing a light, crisp wine with a delightful, pineapple finish.
The 2013 Ancient Vine Carignane ($38) comes from 128 year old estate vines. Normally a blending grape, the gnarly vines have produced a stand-alone varietal that is rich and complex.
Their best-selling 2012 Estate Mirepoix ($38) is a Merlot blend, full of juicy red fruits—with Cabernet and Petite Verdot adding layers of complexity and finishing with a bit of pepper.
The 2012 Estate Cabernet ($46) from the Santa Cruz Mountains was aged 20 months in French oak and is drinking wonderfully now. With its tannic backbone, it will reward the patient wine drinker for another 12 years.