Sunday, July 6, 2008


A beautiful July afternoon saw us out and about in the mountains, visiting a few wineries we haven't seen in a while. First stop was Hallcrest, one of the oldest wineries in the mountains. The original Hallcrest was founded in 1945; following the original owner's retirement in the 1970s it was renamed Felton Empire. In 1987 it was purchased by the current owner John Schumacher, who restored the Hallcrest name and also launched a second label, Organic Wine Works.

Unfortunately the 60 year old estate vineyards had to be torn up a few years ago due to disease and the winery has still not replanted. Plans are in hand to replant the six acres with Pinot Noir and Riesling, a varietal for which the winery was renowned.

Hallcrest is one of the wineries that maintains the mountain tradition of individually numbering wine bottles.

2006 Hallcrest Sauvignon Blanc Belle Farms Vineyard ($20)
The only Sauvignon Blanc currently grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains comes from this family vineyard near Watsonville. Flavours of gooseberry and grass are backed by strong acidity, which is only slightly ameliorated by some residual sugar.

2005 Hallcrest Barrel Select Chardonnay ($24)
Oaky but not overpowering so. Good acidity; flavours of green apples.

2007 Organic Wine Works "A Notre Terre" ($12)
A blend of mainly Syrah, with some Merlot and Zinfandel. Bottled without filtration or sulphites. A smoky nose. On the palate it's light and fruity; cranberries and cherries. The finish is strongly tobacco.

2004 Hallcrest Terra Serena Pinot Noir ($42)
The current incarnation of Hallcrest is well known for Pinot Noir, sourcing fruit from several local vineyards. The Terra Serena vineyard is in Corralitos;. the 20+ year old vines are dry farmed. It has a good berry nose with rich cherry and raspberry flavours. The finish is crisp.

2003 Organic Wine Works Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
This has a good Cabernet nose and sweet blackcurrant flavours. The finish is smooth, without too much tannin. The alcohol level is a reasonable 13.5% Because they are bottled without sulphites, the Organic Wine Works labels are intended to drink in the short term.

2003 Zinfandel Nova Vineyard, Lake County ($28)
Nose of oak and coffee. Rich flavours of pepper and black fruits. No real heat showing from the alcohol.