Monterey wine country has a new winery group, one that focuses squarely on the 18k acre Arroyo Seco AVA, which was formed back in 1973. Michael Griva, president of the newly renamed and re-energized Arroyo Seco Winegrowers group, is clearly excited about the group’s growing membership, new logo and planned website. There’s a new map, an official headquarters (33 El Camino in Greenfield) and a new board of directors, including: Rhonda Motil of J. Lohr, Mike Kohne of Mercy, Rich Smith of Paraiso, Roger Miotosos of Arroyo Seco Vineyards and Mark Chesebro of Cedar Lane and Mission Ranch.
The new membership roster includes: Arioto and Bosio, Arroyo Seco Vineyard, Chesebro Wines/Cedar Lane Vineyard, Griva Vineyard, Jekel, J. Lohr, Meador Estate, Mission Ranch, Mercy Vineyards, Paraiso Vineyards, Ventana Vineyard and Wente. Others are pending
And there’s a newly rebuilt barn on Michael Griva’s property, ready to house the June 25th gathering of Sommeliers that are coming from across the nation to taste the wines of Arroyo Seco with the select group of winemakers that have chosen to participate in the fee-based pouring. The Sommeliers who take part in “Terroir Experience” will begin their day with a very early morning visit to the Santa Cruz Mountains, including lunch in the Corralitos area. From there, they will travel to Chalone for a tasting.
Then, it’s on to Mission Ranch Vineyard, for a walk and talk with Mark Chesebro of Chesebro wines and Cedar Lane Vineyard and Bruce Sterten of Ventana Vineyard, owners of Mission Ranch. They’ll taste wines from Chesebro and Ventana Vineyard, featuring Ventana’s new wines from winemaker Sabrine Rodems of Wrath. From there, they depart to Griva Vineyard, via Los Coaches Road (where the guests will view the river bottom vineyards of Ventana, Zabala and Hahn’s Ste Phillippe properties). At Griva Vineyard, they’ll hear from owner Michael Griva and guests, including Jeff Meier (J Lohr Director of Winemaking, EVP, COO), Mark Dirickson (Mercy’s winemaker) and Ben Pon/Dean DeKorth (Bernardus owner/winemaker, respectively). They’ll taste Pinots and Chards from Mercy, J Lohr and Bernardus, followed by dinner at Griva Vineyards, where they’ll have the opportunity to taste many wines from the Arroyo Seco AVA, with a focus on the region’s signature varietals: Musque Clone Sauvignon Blanc as well as other aromatic whites (Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Vermentino), Rhone-varietal wines, and Pinot Noir.
The group is extremely jazzed about the upcoming tasting and the opportunity to connect with such an influential group of wine professionals and share their story. Says Griva, “This is not your typical winetasting region. It’s not like Napa. We have rocks and howling wind. That’s what we’ve got here that makes us, and our wine, unique. When the well-groomed couple opens the door to their nice Mercedes to get out, they’d better be prepared to hang on for the ride! The wind will literally blow your doors off!
One of the key ringleaders of the new ASW is Mike Kohne of Mercy Vineyards. He’s been very involved with all the promotional materials and says, “We are close to having many marketing tools ready and look forward to launching a website over the next couple of weeks. The ASW is a grassroots organization and we will be sending out details of the group’s formation and the launch of the website (looking to start an “annual” event in 2014), as well as noting the AVA’s milestone anniversary, in the next couple weeks.”
In speaking with Griva, he is leaning towards holding the big 30th birthday bash in the early part of September. Stay tuned for where and when, although one thing is certain: it will be a real trick to keep 30 candles lit in that great rush of Arroyo Seco wind.
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.