Favorite Family Vineyards

Last week I had a family emergency and had to fly home in a hurry.  Thankfully everything ended up Ok, but it got me thinking a lot about Family. And as I visited my wine store last night I was looking at the shelves at some of my favorite family vineyards


Here is a favorite of mine, as many of you know. The vineyard owned by Francis Ford Coppola and his family was a winery I visited a few years ago.  They put out many great wines, including this Black Diamond Claret, based on a Bordeaux style blend is Cabernet Sauvignon based.

 Here’s another favorite of mine from California.  The McManis family has been farming in California since 1938 and in 1990, 4th generation Ron McManis and his wife Jamie started the vineyard.   They put out some of my favorite California wines including a great Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured), a delicious Merlot and a juicy Zinfandel.

Australia has a group of wine makers called ‘Australia’s 1st Families of Wine”, an initiative created by 12 family owned Australian wineries spanning 16 different regions in Australia.   Together they have over 1200 years of winemaking experience, and although I haven’t tried all of them, some of the ones we can get in Canada are delicious.

Yalumba for example, makes a spectacular Viognier.  I love Viognier, and has become my favorite wine to accompany turkey.  Yalumba was started in 1849 by Samual Britch and the word ‘Yalumba’ is aboriginal for ‘All the Land Around”.   Not only do they make a great Viognier, they also grow a Tempranillo in Australia.  I love Tempranillo, however, I haven’t tried this one yet.

Another one on the list which is familiar here in Canada is the De Bortoli Family name.   Reasonably priced, easy to drink wines from Australia.  The Shiraz pictured below is juicy and jammy with gorgeous flavors of raspberry and is under $13.  Wow.

New Zealand has a spectacular Family vineyard, called Saint Clair Family Estate.  The Wines are available here in Canada and the Pinot Noir is so good it will bring you to your knees.  I have tried two of the wines from the Saint Clair Family Estate.

The Sauvignon Blanc was the first Saint Clair wine I tried, and I loved it.  Light bodied  and crisp with gorgeous flavors and aromas.  This is a beautiful expression of a Sauvignon Blanc wine from New Zealand.

The Pinot Noir is so good, you will sit in your home with a glass, and just smell the wine for a while.  OK, I did that.  First of all, Pinot Noir is probably my favorite wine of all time.  Like Paul Giamatti’s character in the movie Sideways, I am captivated by the flavors and aromas of this finicky heart-break grape.  (Unlike Paul’s character in the movie, I happen to love Merlot.)    I guess Pinot Noir is hard to grow, and that I can really appreciate what the vintner goes through.  Hints of cherry and raspberry greet your nose, and you will detect it was aged in French oak.  A beautiful mouth-feel with a toasted spicy tobacco note.  Serve it with any white meat, your house guests will love you.

Peller Estates

I would be remiss without mentioning a family owned Vineyard from Canada.  And Peller Estates, which started in 1927 by Andrew Peller, is run today by his grandson John Peller.   It’s been over 50 years since Andrew Peller’s first vintage, and I’m proud as hell that this vineyard is located here in Canada.

Peller Estates makes an award-winning ice wine, as a matter of fact, they make several award-winning ice wines.  Located on the Niagara Peninsula in Canada, the summers are warm enough to grow grapes and the Canadian winters are cold enough to make ice wine.
Family Series Cabernet Merlot 2012
I have also had the opportunity to try the Peller Estates Cabernet Merlot, which has 48% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Full-bodied with flavors of plums and blackberries, with spicy oak.  Makes for a great wine for anything you want to throw on the BBQ.
There are many more family owned vineyards throughout the world, and I have just touched on a few of my favorites.
What are your favorites?
Thanks for reading, have a great week

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