As Food and Wine reported last year, wineries have found a way to introduce their products to wine aficionados while still maintaining social distance.
They’re going virtual.
By shipping product to customers and then reaching out to them over Zoom, they can discuss their collections and reach a larger audience. Some have even added recipes to match.
I’ve been interviewing sommeliers of top restaurants in the area about their wine lists, so I decided to create my own virtual wine tasting with the help of Adobe Road Winery in California.
Through Zoom, I was able to speak directly to Garrett Martin and Kevin Buckler, the wine maker and founder, respectively, of Adobe Road, a boutique winery in Petaluma, California that pulls the best grapes from Sonoma and Napa to create their 90+ point wines.
Garrett shipped me three bottles of their top wines to sip and talk about, while Yummy Tablas, based in Wesley Chapel, sent me an amazing charcuterie board for grazing.
I was ready for my virtual tasting — which, it occurred to me later, would furnish all the ingredients needed for the perfect at-home date on Valentine’s Day.
Zooming in on Adobe Road’s Racing Series
On Zoom, Kevin Buckler explained that Adobe Road makes 14 wines including the Racing Series, four unique wines inspired by Kevin’s background as a professional race car driver and team owner. They are very popular with racing and car enthusiasts who also have a taste for wine.
Adobe Road jumped into virtual wine tastings with their Inside Track Wine Club members, as well as companies and organizations doing special events. They have hosted about 60 to 80 tastings, he said, some of them including videos, drone footage and guest speakers.
What grabbed my interest was a virtual tasting they’d held entitled “Napa vs. Sonoma.” Being a huge Sonoma fan, I wanted to ask Garrett about the wines they are making and where they’re gathering their grapes.
Garrett, an energetic, affable guy who drew me in right away with his passion for wine, began by explaining the titles on their wine labels.
While most wineries grow their own grapes to make chardonnay, cabernet, merlot or other varieties, Adobe Road forms partnerships with wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma County to make vintages using their premier grapes.
The 2017 Pinot Noir that Garrett sent me, for example, was labeled Petaluma Gap, to identify the wine’s AVA (its region of origin), and Griffin’s Lair was listed as the vineyard, owned by the Griffin family. I am not normally a pinot fan, but this wine’s medium tannins leaned toward a softer cabernet. Garrett explained that the wind that rolls in every day in the region changes the thickness of the grapes’ skin, which determines the wine’s color and flavor. Hot days and cool nights produce an amazing pinot.
By getting grapes from other vineyards, Adobe Road can be risk-averse, choosing grapes from the best areas and from certain seasons that are noteworthy.
Wines with a special charm
For one of their chardonnays, they chose to build a relationship with a vineyard in Russian River Valley, one of my favorite areas in Sonoma. For one cabernet, they chose to go to Knights Valley and the Bavarian Lion vineyard in Sonoma County, which was the second bottle Garrett sent me, a 2016 vintage.
The unique aspect of this bottle is its black wax top with gold emblem. I had seen people cut wax from a bottle with a knife, but the gold emblem suggested one could do the same thing by pulling upward on it. I did, and sure enough, it worked: I was able to unwrap the wax.
Garrett shared with me that they had decided to add the charm to each of their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon selections. (This particular charm had AR on the front and the Bavarian Lion emblem on the back.) The charms, which are unique to Adobe Road, add an extra touch of sophistication.
Garrett explained that Knights Valley is next to Calistoga and south of Alexander Valley. Adobe has been sourcing their grapes from Bavarian Lion Vineyards since 2008. The grapes get fully ripe there, and the taste was like sunshine in a glass. The tannins are silky, but the wine has a big taste.
Another flagship cabernet is their Blue Dog, which combines Sonoma plus Napa grapes and has blue wax on the top, with a dog’s face on the back of the charm, a tribute to the owner’s dog.
Great wine at any speed
The last bottle I tasted was Red Line, part of the Racing Series. It was developed in 2016, a year after Garrett joined Adobe, and was the bottle that launched the series. No other winery has a mechanical label; the Red Line has a moving tachometer.
The wine is a blend of five varieties: 68% from Sonoma (cabernet and three other red varieties) and 32% from Napa. The taste is very interesting — complex and cohesive, with dusty tannins, cherry fruit, caramel notes and pops of flavor from so many different grapes. I was hooked as soon as I smelled it and took a sip.
Adobe Road Winery’s practice of celebrating certain years and vineyards is clearly a winning strategy.
Want to create a virtual wine tasting with your loved one at home?
Check out Adobe Road Winery at adoberoadwines.com to learn about their tastings and order wines to be delivered to your home, and contact Yummy Tablas at yummytablas.com for a beautiful grazing board to share. They deliver around the Tampa Bay area.