2017 Shale Canyon Consortium Blend – A Wine for the Wild West

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Background on the Arroyo Seco Appellation

For those not familiar with Arroyo Seco AVA in California, here is a detailed map of the area. It also shows the area is located in California and secondly a map of where Shale Canyon fits in:

(Map from Arroyo Seco Winegrowers Association)

Consisting of 18,240 acres the Arroyo Seco AVA is one of the smallest AVAs in California. While this area receives about 13 inches of rain per year, they have gone 100% solar power for their operation and today are one of two wineries working completely off the gird.

The Winery

 (View of vineyard from above Shale Canyon. Photo from Shale Canyon)

So who are the owners/winemakers of Shale Canyon Wines? They are a two man show with Keith Prader and his brother Tim. The responsibilities are for Keith to handle the winemaking, software, sales and marketing. Tim handles the vineyard management, facilities manager and tasting room manager. For the last two years, Keith has been the winemaker. While lines of responsibilities may be drawn, each can and do fill in any and all needs of running a small two man winery. While this area receives about 13 inches of rain per year, they have gone 100% solar power for their operation and today are one of two wineries working completely off the gird.

Formed Shale Canyon in 2007, their property is 375 acres with only 7 acres planted in vineyard.  Their first production was 2008. On the estate property they have planted besides Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. Keith mentioned to me that on the estate grapes, they drop a lot of fruit and target about 3 tons per acre. Flavor profile is key and dropping fruit allows more “flavor per grape” (FPG). They have sourced grapes for their Chardonnay, Malbec and Syrah. In 2018 they produced about 1,000 cases and today produce approximately 1500 cases. Looking out in time to 2025 they believe they will be between 2000 to 2500 cases maximum.

(Photo from Shale Canyon)

You can experience their wines at their tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Paseo San Carlos, west side of San Carlos between Ocean and Seventh. They are open daily from 12 to 6 pm. They offer some unique wines like a 100% Mourvèdre and Tempranillo, two varietals uncommon for Monterey County.

The Wine

Photo ©Michael Kelly

Photo shot with this picture as Keith and his wife, Kimberley were here at Copper Valley for the Cabernet Franc Wine Stroll on their 34th wedding anniversary. Winery Tasting Notes: “A classic blend of Bordeaux varietals.  Very aromatic with a distinctive cherry note on the nose.  It is an elegant, yet complex wine with black berry, dark cherry, plum and blueberry on the palate.  It has a long finish with wisps of cedar, smoke and medium plus tannins.” I also picked up anise flavor with an earthiness and forest spices and a tinge of cedar on the finish. It was extremely dark color with smooth silky tannins. They produced 139 cases of the 2017 and sells for $50/bottle.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Photo ©Michael Kelly

Paired with slow cooked red wine braised bone-in beef short ribs. Ingredients included olive oil, yellow onions, baby mushrooms, minced garlic, Cabernet Sauvignon, beef broth, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried marjoram and bay leaves. Slow cooked for 8-10 hours. The meat literally fell off the bone and was delicious. Accompanied with French fried potatoes and a fresh garden salad. The Consortium added an earthiness and subtle fruit to the food pairing and was a solid pairing.

Quality has been their mantra since inception and to this point, they drop between 40-50% of the fruit on the vines to provide the most intense flavored grapes for their wines. Kudo’s to Tim and Keith for some excellent work.




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