There’s this little corner of San Francisco, off of the 101, that’s basically a bunch of warehouses. I’ve been here to scout for used sports gear, to stop by the flea market, and of course to visit the fish monger. I didn’t realize there were wineries here…
Actually there’s quite a few. In fact, when I came to this part of town to visit Tim and Melissa of Betwixt Wine — who I met during the 2016 Pinot Days — I was surprised to learn they share their meager space with several other small, independent wineries (such as August West) as well.
Photos below with an abbreviated write-up. Full article available at GirlsonFood.net
And at this stage of their operation, having only officially been in the winemaking business since 2012, this suits them just fine.
About Betwixt Winemaking
Tim Telli, owner and winemaker of Betwixt Wine, gets his grapes from various small lot vineyards along the Northern California coast. He says he lets the grape-growers do what they do best (grow the grapes) because his passion is in the winemaking process — all of which takes place in his downtown SF winery.
Tim’s focus is on, what he calls, “minimalist winemaking,” meaning he takes a hands-off approach when it comes to production. He first puts the grapes through “cold soaking” or “cold maceration” pre-fermentation, which is a natural way to extract color and flavor from grape skins without excess tannins.
While visiting Tim and his wife Melissa, I had the opportunity to try their 2015 Pinot Noir — in its separate components. We first had the wine from an aged oak barrel — which, because of its age will emit very little “oaky-ness.” This Pinot Noir was quite clear, fruit forward (both on the nose and on the palate), and had a strong acidic bite to it.
We then tasted the Pinot from the new oak barrel. Visually, the wine is a much firmer red color; aromatically, the wine emits a strong scent of fresh cedar or pine wood. The taste was the biggest difference: the mouthfeel was overall more softer, rounder, the fruit flavors substantially more mellow, and there was an obvious lack of acidity in comparison to the old barrel batch.
Lastly, we drank from the batch of pressed Pinot Noir. This means, after all the free-flowing juice from the grapes has been separated and only the stems and skins are left, Tim gently presses on those remains to squeeze out any residual liquid. As you can imagine, this is where the tannins will come in to the final product. I’ve never tasted just the pressed juices of a wine before. Although it makes sense logically, I was surprised by how light and cloudy the glass was, and how strong the aroma of “bush” and “weeds” was. On the palate, of course this was quite dry and tasted very little of fruit.
The Wine: Current Releases
So what about the wine that’s bottled and ready to drink now? For me, the most notable is their 2014 Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir. It truly exemplifies what Betwixt Wine is all about. You can read my full review of Betwixt 2014 Pinot Noir, but know I’m not the only one to fall in love with this wine. Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently scored this bottle a highly recommended 92 points. I’ll drink to that!
The Wine: New Releases
On the heels of a successful 2013 Grenache from Boer Vineyard, Chalone, Monterey (just recently picked up by the prestigious Frances restaurant in San Francisco), is Betwixt’s 2014 vintage from the same vineyard. This is another great example of Tim’s ability to utilize the best of small lot vineyards and create something truly unique. I couldn’t help but take a bottle home to share with my family, and write up this glowing review.
Betwixt Wines current line up includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Grenache, as well as a limited release White Wine Blend, available for purchase through their site.
To learn more about Tim, Melissa, and Betwixt Wines, please visit their website. If you’d like to taste their wines in person, they’ll be pouring at SF’s Fig & Thistle on July 26, 2016 from 6:30 until 8pm (See their events page for details).
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