Fairly recent wine industry friends Andy and Kristy Harris kept posting about Bella Grace wines. After some good hearty jousting with Andy, he invited me to join him for a tasting last Sunday. Kristy and my wife, Susan joined for an enjoyable two hours of tasting wines both on and off the “line up”. Bella Grace has a tasting room in Sutter Creek and the vineyards and caves with another tasting area in Plymouth. By the way, the winery is named in honor of both their grandmothers, Bella and Grace.
The winery was started in 2006 with the husband and wife team of Charlie and Michael Havill purchasing some 50 acres in Amador County. With just 20 acres planted in vines they began cultivating Primitivo, Zinfandel, Grenache, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre without the use of pesticides or inorganic materials. They have beautiful caves and award winning wines. While we were tasting Charlie came by and spoke about his passion with Primitivo and his award winning Vermentino from the recent San Francisco Wine Competition.
The Notable Wines Tasted Sunday
We only tasted a few of the wines Sunday as their list of wines is extensive with eight white/sparkling wines offered and eighteen red wines highlighted by varietal and year. In addition they offer California grown olive oil and Balsamic vinegar imported from Italy. The two standout wines tasted were the 2017 Primitivo Estate Grown and the Reserve Chardonnay.
The Primitivo gave off a light purplish coloring and was medium viscosity. The aromatics on the nose were powerful and once on the palate, a combination of blackberries and a hint of pepper provided both a sweet and mouth filling wine along with a subtle tartness of spice. The finish was enduring and enjoyable. This retailed for $35.
The next wine being highlighted was their 2018 Reserve Chardonnay. This was the wine which Andy had many posts on and I wanted to taste first hand. Sure enough Andy was spot on for his high praise of this wine. First a light golden color on the eyes and medium viscosity was tantalizing. I was pleasantly shocked that the grapes came from the Los Carneros region of Sonoma County AVA. On the nose, it was a combination of Old World meets New World Chardonnay, you had the lemony flavoring and brightness combined with the crispiness of the Old World. Yet while in the palate honey and just a slight soft and sweet butter appeared showing its New World traits. Due to the fires in California this Chardonnay spent 15 months in 30% new French oak barrels, 50% in one year French barrels and 20% in stainless steel. This produced a crème brûlée and lovely vanilla notes in the mouth and finish. 324 cases were produced and it sells for $36 a bottle. This was worthy find and I purchased a bottle for further analysis.
Charlie and I spoke about getting together once he gets back in town. Looking forward to getting more insights into the wines of Bella Grace. Thank you Andy and Kristy for the recommendation!