Wildhurst Vineyards is another Lake County find. In fact, the Wildhurst tasting room is right across the street from another LC favorite stop, Fore Family Vineyards. Both tasting rooms are located in the super sleepy downtown Kelseyville. Although admittedly, for a tiny town, there are a lot of tasting rooms to choose from — all within walking distance. If you find yourself in those parts, definitely do stop by Wildhurst Vineyards. Wine to try: Wildhurst Vineyards 2015 Reserve Chardonnay.

About the Wine: Wildhurst Vineyards was, for many years, a family run operation. In fact, even before the tasting room opened its doors in 1997, the Holdenrieds had been farming grapes since 1966 when Myron Holdenried first planted 30 acres of Zinfandel amongst the family’s pear orchards.

Hurst is the Gaelic word for “wooded hillside,” and the name “Wildhurst” is meant to pay homage to the dormant volcanic mountain, Mt. Konocti, which overlooks the Holdenried ranch.

Just within the past year, the winery was sold to another couple who now own and operate the downtown Kelseyville tasting room. With that change came a change in decor — the once “old-timey” saloon-style venue meant to mimic the character of the grand old Odd Fellows Hall is now sleek with modern interior design.

It’s not just the cosmetics that have changed, but the winemaker as well — in fact that position has changed hands at least twice within the past year or so. And, yet, there’s still a rustic charm to this Lake County Chardonnay. One that makes you feel you’re a part of this podunk wine country.

Flavor Profile: The minute you open the bottle of the Wildhurst Vineyards 2015 Reserve Chardonnay you’ll smell a beautiful perfume of apple blossoms and fresh, crisp aromas of springtime air. In the glass, this Chardonnay is champagne-colored: just a hint of straw-like yellow turns the wine an off-white. The initial aromatics are of crisp honeycomb with a certain buttery note like a brioche bun or a dutch crunch roll. Deep breath in and there’s the slightest hint of acidity as if from thinly sliced sweet yellow apple. Move your nose to the top of the glass and find a bouquet of white, light cherry and apple blossoms.

The initial texture is soft, round, smooth. The palate is fresh with the stink of raw honey and pollen. There’s a bit of toast to the aftertaste, reminiscent of roasted nuts or the crust of fresh baked bread. There’s a subtle background flavor of baked butter (like the smell that wafts out of the oven from a baking cake), and the thinnest, but most affective line of acidity that carries the wine from sip to swallow — where it bursts like a small berry popped between your teeth, for a lingering, tingling, yet somewhat solid, finish.

An interesting side note is that there is, to my palate, an indecipherable umaminess in this wine. Something that reminds me of Asian cuisine, but I just couldn’t place it. It almost reminded me of green curry — so I’m thinking lemon grass or kaffir lime. Although at one point I wrote down “Sesame oil?”

Food Pairing: I paired the Wildhurst Vineyards 2015 Reserve Chardonnay with cedar plank cod, sautéed capsicum and onion, and a buttery-almond rice pilaf. The smokiness of the cod enhanced that umaminess, simultaneously driving me crazy (as I reached for another glass to taste-test again and again), and giving the wine a full, round mouthfeel.

Perfect pairing. Full stop.

More Info: The Wildhurst website is wildly outdated, but you can still use it to schedule your visit and order wines — so for that information, please do visit the Wildhurst Vineyards website. I purchased the Wildhurst Vineyards 2015 Reserve Chardonnay at the winery. Retail: $21


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