Winery of the Year

A 2012 winner representing every wine geek's dream


Unlike with my pick for Wine of the Year, which is a wine that has moved me and changed my view of wine in some way, shape or form, I award my Winery of the Year selection to a winery that has had consumer interests at top of mind.

This can be seen as a vague statement in that most wineries have their consumers’ interests at heart in one way or another.

Wineries are out there making the best wines they can make for a certain price, or the best wines they can make at any price. They are also there trying to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate what consumers might want down the road. All good and true, but what’s the motivation? Bottom line is the bottom line.

I’d be a fool to say that this year’s Winery of the Year isn’t in it for the money, they don’t call it the wine business for nothing. Once you move past the bottom line, there are a few other aspects that distinguish those wineries that really value their clients over all else.

The first is value. It’s not easy to produce world-class wine at price points that are widely affordable. Consider this year’s choice, whose wines range from about $35 a bottle at retail to about $60 a bottle for the rarest single vineyard offerings. If you are lucky enough to be on the producer’s mailing list, these wines tend to be in the $30 to $40 range. The uptick in price reflects not only the increasing demand this producer is finding for his wine, but also the regard he holds for his customers. It keeps those who’ve managed to make his mailing list loyal, repeat and satisfied customers.

Winery image via Shutterstock
The second point worth making here is that this winery’s star is still ascending. His wines have always received significant critical acclaim, but there is no doubt that his current release of wines are the best he has ever made. While last year I awarded my Winery of the Year to a producer of Zinfandel, this year’s winner offers so much more.

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  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Well, I am surprised that a primarily Zin maker gets the nod two years running, but you have been a champion of Zin, something that more folks on the East Coast could stand to drink. You may recall that I asked Mike Talty, of last year's winery of the year, what he drank when he didn't drink his own and he said, "Carlisle." Mike Officer's approach is also the approach that Clay Mauritson and Mike Talty take, and all three of them contend, for the same very good reasons, that Zin is among the hardest wines to make at that excellent, balanced level. Big jammy stuff, spoofy stuff, that's easy. But balanced, long lasting Zin that reflects Zin and the places it grows is something indeed. In addition to those guys, Paul Draper at Ridge deserves a nod for taking Zin seriously and Turley, like them or not, has put it in collector's cellars.
    Now I have to get my hands on some Carlisle and figure out where I'm going to put it. One other person deserves some attention for saving old vines, and that's Matt Cline, who is putting out wines from Live Oak and Evangelho, two very old vineyards that do not get attention because they are in Contra Costa County, but both are on sandy soil and pre-phylloxera--own-rootstock Zins and Mourvedre field blends, if you can imagine.

    Nov 06, 2012 at 4:31 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    I think Zinfandel often gets overlooked int he world of wine, yet when well made, which is a real challenge, the wines are some of my favorite in California, and therefore to my palate the best of California.

    Factor in the history of the wines and the old vineyards, and the values to be had here and it's a no brainer. People need to be paying attention tot hese wines, though not too much since i want to still be able to buy them!

    If your interested we can pop some Bedrock and Carlisle in November?

    Nov 06, 2012 at 6:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Travel 3000 miles to have wine that was grown in my backyard by a guy who travels in the same circles as other winemakers I have on speed dial?
    You are so on!

    Nov 06, 2012 at 6:29 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,297

    I CANNOT BELIEVE MY EYES. The WInery of the Year produces wine that the unwashed masses can actually buy in their local retail store--and without taking a second on their houses. What is this world coming to?


    Excellent selection. And a very interesting article. Thank you very much.

    Nov 06, 2012 at 8:13 PM

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