Accolades and good press continue to flow from the Sierra foothills wine country.
First, the San Francisco Chronicle published a lengthy piece about a renaissance of this region and featured some fine wineries that have been previously covered here, including Skinner Vineyards of El Dorado County and Holly's Hill near Placerville.
Now, according to the judges at the 2011 California State Fair Wine Competition, the best red in the entire state hails from Fair Play area in southern El Dorado County. We're talking about the Windwalker Vineyard 2008 Shady Lady Primitivo, which nabbed 98 points, a double gold medal and "best of show red" honors.
Windwalker's winning wine sells for $30, but you won't find it at Sacramento-area stores. The 2008 Shady Lady no relation to the midtown Sacramento bar of the same name can be purchased only over the phone or at the winery, 7360 Perry Creek Road, in Somerset.
And over the past two weeks, since the State Fair's wine competition results were announced, Windwalker owners Jim and Alanna Taff have been slammed with orders. Their 1,800-square-foot tasting room has also seen a big bump in traffic.
"Usually we get one person in the tasting room all week and two to four on weekends," said Alanna Taff. "Now we have to man the room with two people and sometimes three."
The primitivo grapes sourced from this wine were picked at Speed Vineyard in neighboring Amador County. The Taffs and winemaker Dominic Mantei were aiming for a wine that captured more of a classic zinfandel style, with a marriage of berry and spicy flavors that's a signature of the Sierra foothills.
"It's similar to zinfandel, but more dry and food-worthy," said Jim Taff. "The vineyard's a little higher elevation than most in Amador, which causes the grapes to ripen at a lower sugar level. They're more like the primitivos that are grown on the Adriatic coast of Italy."
The 2008 Shady Lady Primitivo isn't usually offered for sampling in the tasting room, but you can try it and Windwalker's other award-winning wines there from noon to 4 p.m. July 30. Information: (530) 620-4054 or www.windwalkervineyard.com.