The Vineyard Vixens, the wine tasting group of the Mother Lode Newcomers, goes on hiatus for the summer. Earlier in September, we toasted another year of tasting adventures, beginning with Bray Vineyards. Some members of our group had been before but most had not, including me.
We started our day with lunch at Villa Toscano as we often do. The buffet included a pasta dish that we all fell in love with. I asked Executive Chef Tim Benham for the recipe so he came out to our table and explained how he made it. It was so delicious and relatively easy. He didn’t give us any specific amounts of each ingredient so I will be working on replicating that recipe to include on the blog at a later date.
Our Visit to Bray Vineyards
It was obvious that the harvest was in process at Bray Vineyards. Owner Robin Bray told me, “It’s that time of the year, HARVEST! Very exciting! The yield is plentiful this year, with good quality of grapes.”
The leaves were turning on the vines and the vines near the tasting room were heavy with beautiful fruit.According to the Bray Vineyard’s newsletter, the white varietals were picked in mid-August and are undergoing fermentation in glycol cooled fermentation tanks. The red varietals are harvested in a staggered fashion from the middle of September through early October. The exception to that is that some of their Sangiovese grapes were picked in early September to make a sparkling blush wine which should be ready for release in the Spring of 2017. For the longest time I drank only champagne style wines. I’m always pleased when a winery has a sparkling wine so I’m looking forward to this release.
When we arrived, Kathy was ready and waiting for us. Kathy. What do I call Kathy? I think the person who pours wine at a wine tasting room should have a special, fancy name like baristas in coffee houses. I Googled this question and it seems like lots of other people have asked it but there is no satisfactory answer in my book. The best anyone came up with is wine steward, which doesn’t really fit, so we are stuck with pourer.
The cozy tasting room has recently had a slight makeover. Since I hadn’t been before I don’t know what the tasting room used to look like but they say it is more contemporary now. It still maintains its down-home comfort which is important to the Brays’ friendly approach to wine tasting. Robin says every day is different in the tasting room. “Folks come in to taste from all over the world. It is enjoyable to visit and learn from them.”
Bray Vineyard Wines
Did you know that it takes 740 pounds of grapes to make a barrel of wine? That translates to 295 bottles of wine or 1180 glasses. To put it even a little more in perspective, it takes 2.5 pounds of grapes to make a bottle of wine.
I’m sad to say I can’t find my wine tasting notes from Bray Vineyards so I can’t tell you exactly what we tasted. I do remember really liking the barbera and zinfandel, but then I almost always do! What I can tell you is that Bray Vineyards has two blends with cute, catchy names: BrayZin Hussy Red and BrayZin Hussy Blonde. Perfect wines for the Vineyard Vixens, no? Both of these modestly priced wines are “perfect for those days when you want some unpretentious fun.” They also sell 1-liter refillable bottles. The wine, straight from the barrel, changes based on what is available.
My friends think I’m a little odd because I don’t like sweet white wines but I do love good dessert wines, especially ice wine, and port. We got to try both of Bray Vineyard’s ports and I think most of us agreed that we liked the Alicante Bouchet Port the best.
I was especially excited when Kathy brought out the Angelica for us to try. I have to admit, I was initially intrigued by the blue bottle. It made me flash back on Blue Nun from my very younger days. Bray’s description online says that Angelica is California history in a bottle. The wine was created by Spanish Friars to be used as sacramental wine in the California missions. It was delicious!
About Bray Vineyards
Bray Vineyards was established in 1996 by Robin and Oliver Bray. They started selling Zinfandel and Sangiovese grapes to well known local wineries in 2001 while making plans to start their own winery. Bray Vineyards opened its doors to the public in April, 2004 and they now grow 20 varieties of grapes. You can buy their wine at the winery or online.
Bray Vineyards also produces extra virgin olive oil made from six varieties of olives grown on the property. In 2007 and 2009 they planted over 200 additional trees and when these mature, 9 new varieties will be added to the estate’s olive oil blend. Their olives are milled to extract only the best portion of the oil.
The tasting room is open six days a week. They are closed on Tuesday. Visit their website to learn more about the winery and their wines.
10590 Shenandoah Road
PO Box 87
Plymouth, CA 95669
Phone: (209) 245-6023 · Fax: (209) 245-6027
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