We find a breath of Fresh Air on the Californian Wine Scene
by Bob Braban - Editor- Travelwatchdog
To their great disadvantage, most European visitors to California who are interested in wine head straight for the Napa Valley. Similarly, most Americans who drink wine regard the Napa Valley as the sacred home of their tipple. They can be forgiven. Most are not travellers and have not had the opportunity to enjoy the wide range of wines available in Europe. This leaves most woefully short when faced with anything with which they are not familiar. They understand Zinfandel, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah, but not many are aware that there is a world beyond, or even wish to explore. An outrageous statement? Certainly not! I make the observation as someone who once took a couple of bottles of very expensive Chablis Grand Cru to the USA, only to have most of it spat into the sink with the statement, “Who drinks this rubbish”?
The author and Charlie Green
If you are a wine lover from Europe and want to separate the real wine growers from the large commercial popular drink producers of the Napa Valley, take yourself into the hinterland and meet some of the people for whom this is still an act of love as well as a way of scraping a living. "Neither fined, filtered, or fiddled with," is the creed of one of the most interesting wineries it has been my pleasure to visit. Situated at 3420 Pine Ridge Lane, Auburn, CA 95603, the winery is owned by Charlie Green and his family who are always keen to show visitors their wares and to discuss how they are produced.
Charlie’s offerings are truly individual wines, given the sort of attention that the large commercial producers have neither the time nor incentive to offer.
Commerce demands that volume producers provide a recognisably consistent product from year to year, with little latitude for innovation or variation from the standard. There is nothing wrong with this stance. If you are a mass producer who must satisfy a market that cares as much about the label as the contents of the bottle, this approach is commercially prudent. However, it is producers like Charlie Green who keep alive the interest in wine, by producing something that may be just a little bit more individual and a little better. When I go into a restaurant, I look for something to eat that I may not have tried in the past; the same goes for my choice of wine.
Charlie's Tastings are unique and entertaining
One of the great pieces of luck of our 2011 trip was that we happened upon Charlie Green’s winery almost purely by chance. Passing a sign that read ominously, “My dog can jump this gate in two seconds! Can You?” We carried on up the drive until reaching the winery premises, a small utility building behind the owner’s house from which Charlie eventually emerged, complaining mirthfully that we were spoiling his afternoon TV. He introduced us to his several varieties of wine for which tasting he did not charge a bean. He then offered to go through them again. That is really unusual! He told us a little of his background and his times spent travelling the world. Later we realised that he had actually told us nothing and he could have been anything from an itinerant Chinese belly dancer to a CIA operative. What really mattered was that his wines were absolutely delicious and far better than many from the Napa Valley costing three times the price. Charlie was entertaining, funny and a great host and we thoroughly recommend a visit, even if you have to make a considerable diversion to manage it.
Thank you Charlie.
There are two reasons for drinking; one is, when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. Prevention is better than cure.
Thomas Love Peacock (1785 -1866) (to live to that age in the 18th and 19th centuries gives testament to his belief!)