When some of our Malbec, Petite Syrah, and Petit Verdot were left over to be sold after not fitting into the Cabernet Sauvignon blend, we experimented by blending them all together, creating a rich, inky and powerful “mountain” blend. It was so distinct and so delicious, that we decided to bottle it. With its backbone of Petite Syrah, this wine is a hedonistic blend. It is all fruit and muscle, framing itself after the traditional California field blend. Sunshine and warm days come to mind when you close your eyes and smell the aromas.
La Vaquera is “the cowgirl” in Spanish, and this wine is our little cowgirl. She isn’t following any rules. An untraditional blend and a bold character, this wine is always pushing the limits. Its flavors and spiced texture are excellent when paired with the most flavorful smoked meats or wild game. This wine hails mainly from the Swickard Vineyard in the northern reaches of the warm Calistoga AVA. Appropriately it is owned by the founders of Five Dot Ranch, the well-regarded organic meat producer, and purveyor.
Ripe blackberries and currants, fruit compote, pie spices, and caramel jump from the glass of this effusive wine. This cowgirl doesn’t hold anything back. It fills your senses with dark fruits layered with more subtle and complex notes of tar, tobacco, and fresh bread. In the mouth, this wine has a powerful entry with firm tannins and ripe fruit balanced by a bright acidity that carries this wine to a long and dense finish.
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While 2015 was another dry year; late winter rains fully filled the soil giving the vines an excellent push come spring. This balance between amount of fruit and leaf area along with detailed hand work in the vineyard positioning shoots and removing excess leaves, allowed for dappled sunlight to reach the berries while maintaining some shade and protection on the hottest days. This sunlight on the berries encourages the development of complex flavors, but we were grateful for the balance of shade provided by the leaf cover during the sporadic but intense heat storms of September and October. We already expected a smaller yield after three years of drought when cool temperatures during the pivotal flowering period resulting in an even lighter crop. The up side? This small crop brought us an early harvest with wonderful concentration of flavor and lush mature tannins.