When too many locals rave about a winery, you have to get yourself there to figure out why. Maybe, not you but I do. That’s what makes me a wine investigator. Gregory Graham Estate Winery is one of those famed places with a rock star winemaker rep and following. Not only are all his wines well-crafted and balanced, he also makes quite a variety. They pour a delicious Sauvignon Blanc, which is pretty common in this climate. Then, their Riesling is done in the traditional German style with powerful floral aromas and big acidity yet a hint of honey that make it a great pairing for your favorite spicy dishes. See previous post on the Thai Chicken from the Saw Shop.
Like most rock stars, this winemaker follows the beat of a different drum. His series of reds include Rhone varietals like Grenache and Syrah, Burgundy’s golden child named Pinot Noir, and Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon. He styles his Cabernet Sauvignon different from the overripe oak monster cabs of Napa Valley by softening tannins to show off the bright cherry and plum flavors balanced by just enough herbaceousness to make it interesting and complex. A luscious and bold blend of almost all 5 Bordeaux varietals stole the show with rich voluptuous fruit and a racy body. All his grapes come from Lake County except for the Pinot Noir, which he gets from Sonoma’s coastal region. It appears to be the only grape you cannot grow in Lake County.
It is also pretty easy to tell Gregory Graham knows what he’s doing. He has far more elaborate answers to questions like “why Lake County” and “what makes Sauvignon Blancs so much better here” unheard before. For the first question, most will admit the land is cheaper here and their wines are very reasonably priced. But Gregory Graham also attributes his flavors to the hot days, cool nights and volcanic soil or red dirt that bring out more complexity and textures. When questioned about how Sauvignon Blancs here don’t have that harsh grapefruit that overpowers it, he says it is not only about the hot climate that this grape loves but also the minerality in the soil that brings out more apricot, melon, and stone fruit along with its hallmark citrus overtones. His prices are all very reasonable and the tasting experience is one you’ll remember.