June 5, 2018 – Is there a revolving door between Carmel-by-the-sea and Carmel Valley Village? It almost seems so, with the number of wineries that have moved, mostly seaward, in the last couple of years. Case in point, Holman Ranch. They recently opened their spacious new tasting room on 7th between Dolores and San Carlos. With its L-shaped bar, it’s more comfy than the previous one in the Village, which is now occupied by Rexford Winery.
Holman’s new décor looks very familiar. Still very much luxe-western, the leather and wood-slatted chairs and high-backed leather barstools remain, along with matching cowhide rugs. You’ll notice some significant changes to the lineup of wines, though.
Not only have they changed labels to feature a stylized rendering of the gates to the Holman Ranch property, but they have also added a new family focal point. Gone is the separate Jarman tasting room, although Jarman wines remain part of the portfolio. A particularly lovely 2014 Jarman Brut Rosé of Pinot Noir, made of the Pommard clone, is bottled in magnums, and honors the woman behind the enterprise, Hunter Lowder’s Mom, Jarman. (Jarman sadly succumbed to Alzheimer’s before she was 60). The base wine was made at Holman Ranch and tirage was done at Caraccioli. It’s $98 for 1.5 liters, which makes it the perfect bottle to give as a wedding or anniversary gift.
The new 2017 Holman Ranch Pinot Rosé, called Susan’s Saignée, is classy and classic, redolent of strawberries, fresh apricots and lemon peel. The color of pink lemonade, it’s named for Hunter’s stepmother, Susan. Really lovely and bright.
The line of Pinots named for Hunter and her sisters, Kelly and Heather, continues, and is joined by a new Pinot called Three Brothers, a reference to Susan’s three sons.
The 2014 Three Brothers is a more fruit-forward ripe and extracted style than the Heather’s or Holly’s Hill wines, offering a richer mouthfeel. The 2014 Kelly’s Press Pinot is filled with raspberry and a dusting of cocoa and oozes red fruit. Winemaker Greg Vida has his hands firmly on what’s in the bottles, even as the external labels evolve.
Also in Carmel, Albatross Ridge has moved from the tiny Court of the Fountains location, to a more spacious spot on Dolores St, between Ocean and 6th. They are open daily, from noon to 7pm, Monday through Thursday, and until 9pm on Friday and Saturday.
In other Carmel news, Scheid’s new Grenache Blanc is a beauty, and their Viognier is close to perfection, with just the right amount of perfume and fruit on a gossamer body. Their new 2017 rosé is also a fine summer sipper. You’re in for a treat if you try the Reserve Pinot flight: the Doctor is definitely in! The Claret reserve is a mouthful of intense goodness, while the GSM just nails it for balance and sass, like a Porsche 911, carving through the corners on River Road.
In the getting-very-close-to-finished Plaza, Hahn has several news wines very much worth trying, including the stunning 2017 Noir Blanc (basically the juice from Pinot Noir before it is pressed) and the 2017 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris, the former quite summer raspberry meets ripe peach, with juicy acidity, and the latter, very crisp, lemon-laced and on the verge of austere, reminiscent of an Alto Adige incarnation. Such a great lineup can be found here, with something for everyone, including elegant Lucienne selections and the always-in-style Smith & Hook proprietary red blend.
News From The Village
Rexford Wines is now officially open in Carmel Valley Village at the site of the former Holman Ranch tasting room, between Chesebro and Parsonage. Featuring wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as from Chalone, they will be open Friday through Sunday, noon until 5pm. You’ll get to meet winemaker Sam Miller, whose father, Joe, a wine afficionado and Astronomy professor at UC Santa Cruz, established the wine brand after many successful home winemaking experiments convinced him to go big.
Speaking of big, their Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot is impressive and built like a Ford F-150, while the wines from Antle Vineyard in Chalone are super-interesting, heavily minerally and textural, unlike anything else that’s being poured in the Valley.
Nearby Heller Estate has now become Massa Estate, and the tasting room hours have changed. They are now open only Friday – Sunday, from 11 until 5pm. The sculptures remain. Stay tuned for news on what’s happening with the wines.
The Twisted Roots tasting room remodel has been completed, and the result, curated and executed by Monterey-based Craft Design-Build, is dramatic. You enter what feels like a living room, complete with cowhide on jute rugs that accent the handsome wooden floors. A deep leather couch beckons, along with comfy chairs and pillow-framed window seating. Floor to ceiling stones from a former fireplace backdrop accentuate the high ceilings, along with a ladder laden with weavings. The redwood-topped tile-faced bar gleams beneath the overhead light fixtures, and natural light streams from the skylights.
A custom steel barn door slides open to reveal a gorgeous private room with chandeliers above a sleek farmhouse table and benches draped with sheepskin. Nothing remains of the previous incarnation to remind you of the former teeny tiny tasting space. The wines deserve such a platform.
Josh Ruiz and his wife, Julie, bought out their previous partners in January of 2016, and subsequently took on new partners, in order to grow the business.
Ruiz, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Agribusiness, asked his college friends, Andy Gulley of Fresno, Matt Brem of Salinas and Neil Amarante of Paso Robles, along with Andy and Matt’s wives, both named Laura, to join Twisted Roots.
Ruiz said the three new partners’ skill sets would be invaluable in reaching the company’s goals. Gulley is an agricultural pest control advisor, Brem owns Produce West, a Salinas produce brokerage, and Amarante is an agricultural lender.
Also joining Twisted Roots as a partner is Matt and Whitney Brem Pridey, who are currently managing Twisted Roots’ wine club, events and general business development. Whitney is Matt Brem’s sister.
Twisted Roots is open Thursday through Monday, noon until 5pm. Their summer concert series begins June 10 with the band Wild Turkeys from 4—6pm. Admission is $15. Bring your own snacks.
So many wines to explore: best get busy.
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.