In the wake of the devastating fires that struck Northern California’s wine country last year, the region was quick to remind potential tourists that one of the best ways they could help was to continue to support California wineries and winemakers by buying California wines and continuing to bring in tourism dollars. This holiday season, as Californians again face a long road to recovery from the horrific devastation of wildfires at both ends of the state, you can do your part to help. First, consider donating to one of the many organizations working hard to support victims and first responders. Then, instead of grabbing from your usual stash as you head out the door, why not give your host a California wine to remember? Here are some bottles that bring a little something extra to the party.
Clockwise from top:
1. Oro Puro Vineyards “Late Harvest”
Marin County native Deborah Goldman found the land on the southern end of the Silverado Trail in Napa in 1998, dug a well, planted the finest rootstock and has been offering her world-class sauvignon blanc–semillon dessert wine for 16 years. The blend pairs nicely with Cowgirl Creamery holiday cheeses or desserts like rustic pear tart. Salud. Cheers. We’ll drink to that. oropurovineyards.com
2. Gamble Family Vineyards “Cairo”
From the moment Tom Gamble found an abandoned four-month-old puppy on the side of the road, Cairo was his constant companion. The two shared more than a decade of adventures at the ranch and beyond, and this Cairo Vineyard bottling is a homage to a beloved friend. $105, gamblefamilyvineyards.com
3. The Prisoner Wine Company “Blindfold”
This white blend is the fruit of a search for interesting Rhône and aromatic varieties to nicely complement a classic chardonnay base. TPWC partnered with growers who cultivated alternative varietals to create an intriguing wine with bold flavor. Aromas of lychee, citrus, vanilla and peach tart are present, and clean and refreshing flavors of juicy citrus and butterscotch are balanced by a vibrant richness. $32, theprisonerwinecompany.com
4. Cline Cellars “Cashmere Black”
Skip the scarf but bring the warmth: This wine from Cline Cellars is so named because Nancy Cline describes the flavors as “liquid cashmere.” It also supports charity — to date, the Clines have donated $495,000 on behalf of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s awareness, local shelters, and other causes. clinecellars.com
5. The Prisoner Wine Company “The Snitch”
For The Snitch, TPWC combined chardonnay from exceptional vineyards in warm Oak Knoll and cool-climate Carneros with just a touch of Roussanne. The result is bright and rich plus an unexpected something special. With fresh tropical fruit, apple and pear on the nose, it has richness balanced by bright acidity. $35, theprisonerwinecompany.com
6. Hale Mary Pinot Noir
Hale yes: We love a great Russian River Valley pinot noir for the holidays. The founders of Hale Mary Wines, Anthony and Mary Bourke, started humbly 15 years ago in their garage in Marin County’s Winship Park; three years later they moved to a custom crush facility in Sonoma County and expanded. Their pinot earned 96 points at the L.A. International Wine Competition last year. $51, halemarywine.com
7. Michael David “7 Deadly Zins”
It’s not just another quirky pun; there’s a reason behind the seven in the name. The grapes come from seven different growers in the Lodi region. Some people refer to the style as “Lodi zinfandel,” and this bottling is deliciously representative. It’s a zin that was made to go with barbecue — big, bold and fruity with lots of spice. $18, michaeldavidwinery.com
8. The Prisoner Wine Company “Dérangé”
In the late spring of 2016, all 2015 TPWC lots were evaluated for character. The most concentrated and delicious lots of each variety were chosen for the first vintage of Dérangé. After lot selection, all barrels destined for Dérangé were hand-selected after a tasting of each and every one. This red blend is full of black cherry, clove spice, blackberry cobbler and vanilla toast; the mouthfeel is full on the entry, and the soft tannins and balanced acidity make for a delicious combo. $100, theprisonerwinecompany.com
All prices sourced from wine.com.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine.