Tasting note: Smith Vineyard, Nevada City Winery, Montoliva, Bent Metal and Sierra Starr

What’s new at the wineries:


Amigo Bob Cantisano, managing partner of the Heaven and Earth Farm on the San Juan Ridge, is one of the most influential figures in California organic agriculture. “Nature bats first and last,” Amigo Bob told The New York Times Magazine.

About 35 years ago, Amigo Bob, a founding member of the California Certified Organic Farmers, consulted with Dr. Wayne Smith, the first generation at Smith Vineyard in Grass Valley.

Smith’s second and third generation, Gary and Christina and their three sons, continue the winemaking and vineyard tending on their 10-acre certified organic vineyard. Now it’s their turn to consult with Amigo Bob. He is helping the Smiths with a five-year plan of vineyard improvements, which includes planting some new vines.

Wine enthusiasts can relive their favorite road trip movies at the Nevada City Winery’s wine club dinner on April 15 from 6-11 p.m. at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. The winery is pouring its current releases and library wines. Enjoy cuisine prepared by Chef Antonio Ayestaran and music from Dream and the Dreamer. For reservations, call 530-265-9463. The winery hosts a “Bottle Your Own” party on May 21- 22 in its barrel room.

On April 16, Montoliva celebrates its “adopt a vine” program at the winery in Chicago Park. Aspiring winemakers who have adopted a vine can prune it for spring. Others can adopt a vine such as Primitivo for a one-time adoption fee of $75 or enjoy a stroll through Montoliva’s new vineyard.

The winery’s new releases include a 2012 mourvedre called Jayz Lizard. An unoaked wine that is rich and deep in character, earthy and complex. It pairs well with beef, but is also enjoyable on its own. On April 9, Bent Metal will release a 2014 Sangiovese—owner Judy Brown’s new favorite. Bent Metal will hold a 6th anniversary celebration at the winery on May 14.

Celestial Semillon is a first for Sierra Starr Vineyard. This grape variety from France’s Bordeaux region is championed for its generous body and fig-like flavors. It was mostly fermented in temperature-controlled tanks and supplemented with some neutral oak for complexity and body. Pair 2014 Celestial Semillon with a hard cheese and some buttery crackers. Sierra Starr also is hosting an Open House at its vineyard and winery in Grass Valley on June 25.

(Photo: Christina Smith)

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