Traveling To Wine Regions While Staying in Place. Today, Wood Family Vineyards in Livermore, California
More behind the curtain at Wood Family Vineyards, especially Rhonda Wood! From high in the sky to down to earth wines!! Yes Rhonda Wood, winemaker/owner of Wood Family Vineyards used to fly planes (US Airways) but now can be found in the vineyards tending vines. She and husband Michael (with their two sons), have a winery in eastern Livermore. Rhonda started making wine in 1996. Besides sourcing wine on their property (Merlot), they have 17 specific vineyards which are manicured to their specifications throughout Livermore’s ideal climate.
Rhonda and the family winery are small in comparison to some of the Livermore’s popular known name wineries, but have been regarded for years as one of the top quality wine producers. For example, just recently they received the following accolades with many more coming:
• 2017 Petit Verdot – 93 points Wine Enthusiast + Editors’ Choice
• 2017 GSM – 93 points Wine Enthusiast + Editors’ Choice
• 2017 Malbec – 93 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2016 Petite Sirah – 92 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Especial’ – 92 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Viva’ – 92 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2017 Merlot – 92 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2017 Red Blend ‘The Captain’ – 91 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2017 Chardonnay ‘Para Mas Amigas’ – 90 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2017 Red Blend ‘El Loco Rojo’ – 90 points Wine Enthusiast
• 2017 Malbec – Best of Show – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 ‘Big Wood’ Zinfandel – Double Gold – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 ‘El Loco Rojo’ – Double Gold – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 Petit Verdot – Gold – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2018 Chardonnay – Gold – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 LVVC Vintners Collective – Silver SF – Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 ‘The Captain’ – Silver – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2016 Petite Sirah – Silver – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 Merlot – Silver – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 GSM – Silver – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
• 2017 Cabernet Franc – Silver – Silver – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020
2018 Chardonnay – While Rhonda may state her favorite wines are her Petite Syrah, Zinfandel “Big Wood Zin” or her Merlot, personally I have enjoyed for at least 15 years her Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Her Chardonnay, a regular for summer time crowds, is call “Para Mas Amigas” meaning “for more girlfriends”. This was not on purpose, but some rusty Spanish made it thus! She was trying to say “for my girlfriends”. She has made many friends, of both sexes, all enjoying her Chardonnay. It has lingering tropical fruits, peach and pear in the palate. A portion under goes 100% secondary malolactic fermentation, but allows a final mix, to allow old world and new world Chardonnay to coexist in harmony. In a recent conversation, she has blended her Chardonnay from both “tightly grained barrels and loosely grained barrels” into the final production wine.
2017 “El Loco Rojo” – This wine is a “Bordeaux style” wine incorporating all local grapes grown in Livermore. They include 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec. Only 150 cases were produced. The name is for a red-headed man as “El Loco Rojo”. This man is the life of the party. Rhonda describes it as “bringing a smile to your face, regardless of your mood. His love is boundless and his attitude is contagious”. Having a just a few sips of this “big wine” will bring a smile to your face from first sip to the never ending finish. Her wines are extracted and deep in color. Fresh earth, clove and campfire smoke provides the background with the foreground provides all the aroma’s and tastes from this five “Bordeaux” grapes. Raspberries, Blackberries, oak and licorice abound with each sip. An excellent expression of her Livermore blend of varietals.
2017 Petite Sirah “Casa de Vinas”. Again a deep extracted color from a vineyard near her residence. On the eyes a deep almost black/purple wine. On the nose blackberry and cherry are dominant. On the palate, floral, black cherry and in Rhonda’s words “rustic tannin” round out the mouthful experience of this wine. This wine had a long finish with a hint of sweetness.
The Food Pairings
The Chardonnay was paired with a stir fried garlic chicken with mushrooms, peppers and onions over a cauliflower rice. The “El Loco Rojo” (Bordeaux blend) was served over a slow cooked eight hour seasoned pot roast with Yukon Gold potatoes and a fresh garden salad. The Petite Sirah was enjoyed by itself with no food as a follow up to a dinner. It was hearty and sumptuous by itself!!
Besides the above three wines discussed, Rhonda makes another 12 or 13 wonderful wines. Her Cabernet Sauvignon and the Against the Grain (red blend with Bourbon barrels) are two of my favorites and are stocked in my cellar.
As their motto states, “It’s all good at Wood” and I certainly can attest to that statement!