While the vines on Fernwood's estate may be less than 10 years old, the family connection to the property goes back several generations.
Matt Oetinger is the present owner and the winemaker since the first vintage in 2001. The winery produces about 3,000 cases a year. All the fruit comes from vineyards that they own or manage, mostly within the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA but also a Zinfandel vineyard owned by his father in the El Dorado foothills.
2007 Vanumanutagi Chardonnay
Vanumanutagi is Samoan for "valley of the singing birds". It was named by the widow of Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived there following his death in 1894. The blocks within the vineyard are named after Stevenson's novels.
A rich, butterscotch/caramel nose. Big, creamy vanilla flavours; lots of lemon curd. Balanced, not over oaked.
2006 Merlot, Small Vineyards Selection
Made from 5 small domestic vineyards that Matt manages in the Los Altos/Los Gatos/Saratoga area, and containing 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.
There's a real barnyard (brettanomyces) nose to this. On the palate the fruit is there, but it's restrained. At this stage it's more about the structure, which is very good. You could put this wine in a Bordeaux tasting and I'm sure it would be difficult to spot.
2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Contains just 2% Petite Verdot. Up front there are notes of toast and mineral, but when you taste it's remarkably fruit forward. Lots of rich blackcurrant, and a dry, tannic, liquorice finish
2006 Petite Sirah, Machado Creek Vineyard
The wine is labelled as Central Coast, though the vineyard is within the Santa Clara Valley AVA. It's made from old, 100% head trained vines.
An inky colour, and a smoky yet fruity nose. On the palate there's a fruit candy note (something like Swizzels) but it's balanced; there's good acidity and the tannins are well controlled.