Crave – food & drink
Another gem for you in Lake County, Calif. is Brassfield Estate Winery. The grounds alone are worth the drive up the hill and the wines are truly amazing.
Brassfield Estate Winery & Vineyard is located in the western section of High Valley at High Serenity Ranch. I had the opportunity to tour the gorgeous estate, which spans 2,500 acres across the eastern and western sections of High Valley, including the Round Mountain Volcano. The estate includes 270 acres of grapes—all planted since 2001. The east-west transverse valley, bordered by Clearlake, creates 40 to 50 degree temperature swings from warm days to cool nights. Elevations range from valley floor vineyards, which sit at an 1,800-foot elevation, to higher vineyard blocks that rise to nearly 3,000 feet. These microclimates allow for a range of grape varietals; Brassfield currently has 16. Many of the white varietals are planted on the valley floor around the oak trees, while the reds are planted on the hills.
The beautiful winery, tasting room and visitor center is Early California style, inspired by Spanish and Italian influences.
The tasting room decor is exceptional, creating an elegant ambiance ideal for tasting fine wines. The bars and doors were even milled from English burl walnut trees harvested from the land.
Brassfield wines are estate grown, produced and bottled. In the tasting room, a flight of 5 wines can be purchased for $5—which is a bargain for wines of this quality. My favorites of the day:
- The 2013 Muscato ($22) bursts with aromas of juicy peaches & honeysuckle, and fruit-forward flavors of candied figs, honeydew & pineapple. It finishes with soft, ripe nectarines. This wine smells and tastes like summer in a glass!
- The 2012 High Valley Appellation Petite Sirah (Volcano Ridge Vineyard, $40) is rich & inky-dark with aromas of huckleberries & blueberries. On the palate, it’s anything but petite. Blackberries, mixed berries, dried herbs & stewed black plums mix together in this bold, polished wine.
- The 2006 Zinfandel Elevado ($40) may be my all-time favorite port-style fortified dessert wine. It’s that good! (And since I’m half Portuguese, I know a good port-style wine.) The brandy used in the fortification was made from Brassfield’s estate-grown Zinfandel. This wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black plums, figs & date pudding. The rich flavors pair well with chocolate, blue cheese & aged gouda.
My companions and I brought home a bottle of each. Full disclosure: I drank most of the Elevado. I wish I had brought home more. Next time!
Fun fact: Even the wildlife in the area find Brassfield wines irresistible. Bears from the adjacent 1,000-acre wildlife preserve snuck into the vineyard and devoured the 2013 Tempranillo grapes. Smart bears! But, sadly, no Tempranillo that year for the humans.