The weather was just shy of extra toasty Cheez-Its, and the hills shimmered in the relentless bleached blue of the sky. But there was a breeze, and the grass shimmied in it, as the tiny vines at Calerrain contented themselves in the sun.
Inside the tasting room, the 2018 grenache was a perfect thirst-quencher, with its strawberry pink lemonade punch flavors, straight from the Pierce Ranch of San Antonio Valley. Winemaker Jeff Mace carefully selects his vineyards for flavors, and the chardonnay from KW Ranch in the northern part of the Santa Lucia Highlands effortlessly echoes the lemon grove that borders the vineyard on the west side. This is classic chard, supple and lithe.
You can taste the effects of altitude in the 2018 Calerrain Muns Vineyard Pinot Noir from a 2,500-foot elevation vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the sun desiccates the skins, imparting a rustic edge. Mace also sources chardonnay, malbec and cabernet from the Paicines area, another very toasty spot along Highway 25, literally out in the middle of even more nowhere than Day Road.
In the scheme of things, Paicines is truly the original Old West, where you expect to see cowboys driving cattle in an endless stream of dust. The 2018 Paicines Chardonnay is a tropical oasis, oozing mango and guava. The malbec promises red plums, and the cabernet makes good on its appealing nose of just picked cherries, softly endearing itself to your palate with a splash of sweet mocha.