The world is a constantly evolving place, as this spring in Northern California has already shown. Every year, Mother Nature gives the grape growers a new set of factors to work with – varying temperatures, wind directions and velocity to name a few. The changing environmental factors will in turn affect the wine with regards to the quality and quantity of the grapes, including the sugar and acid levels and the amount of wine that will be produced. That, my readers, is the beauty of wine – it’s rarely the same from vintage to vintage – and that makes it both exciting and frustrating at the same time.
Sometimes, not only is the wine different, the name changes, too. We’ve seen it before in the industry. It can be as simple as a name change, as happened with the Jewel label in the mid-2000’s, when it went from Jewel to California’s Jewel. Sometimes, a winery actually changes it’s entire name and approach, like when Crystal Valley Cellars moved from their location on Highway 88 and moved into the spot vacted when Jewel left, and became known as Cosentino, their parent company in Napa Valley. That spot is vacant again, and will soon open as Cycles Gladiator. Cycles Gladiator will open soon, with projected hours to be ten to five, Thursday through Monday.
Another winery experiencing it’s own evolution is H – G Vineyards, formerly known as Coliseum Winery located in the Vino Piazza. The new winery is sharing tasting room space with Omega Cellars on Highway 88, between Harney Lane and Kettleman Lane. The name and location may be different, but the players are the same. DeeDee Capps is one of them, the lady behind the bar (some of you may recognize her from the Coliseum Winery most recently, and from Jewel before that), sharing her knowledge and passion for wine.
H-G Vineyards is producing and selling wine under several different labels, among them Honeywell and Todd, Sacramento Trail, and Parc Chic. Prices range from six dollars to twenty dollars, and all the wines are worth buying. The two Parc Chic wines, Wicked and Lush, are served at the Hale Kulani Hotel in Waikiki, but readily available here in Lodi, and definitely worth the drive down Highway 88. Both bottles retail in the tasting room for $15.00.
The 2008 Wicked is especially lush, a perfect example of change in a glass. It starts with a beautiful dark and intense black fruitiness, that later segues into violets and cassis, and finishes with velvety smoothness. Somewhere along the way, you’ll be hit by a noticable, but pleasant, black pepper and spice. It’s a well-rounded blend of zinfandel, montepulciano, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and barbera. As the label says, it is definitely “a sinful concoction.”
An Omega Cellars selection not to be missed is their Mosaic. It calls itself a chardonnay, but it doesn’t play like one! It has a hearty and beautiful mouthfeel to it, bringing to mind a marsanne or viognier weightiness. This is coming from a non-chardonnay drinker, so don’t pass it up! Omega Cellars is turning out some amazing small lot wines, letting the grapes do all the talking, gently prodded along by the winemaker, whose approach to winemaking is to let the grapes shine through the volume. Better to make a small amount of amazingly awesome wine and sell-out of it all, then to produce a mediocre wine for the sheer purpose of volume.
Take a ride down Highway 88 and stop in at Omega Cellars and H-G Vineyards, open Wednesday through Monday from eleven to five, and see for yourself – one sip at a time!