Spirits

Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival consists of the tastes, sights, and sounds that encompass the Salinas Valley’s wealth of individual talents combined with the bounty of our fields, vineyards, farms, and ranches.

Craft distillers have become a welcomed, complementary component to the Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival. From grain to glass, Salinas Valley locals are creating some amazing spirits.

Puma Road

Ray Franscioni is a third generation Monterey County farmer. Ray and family have gained a reputation for providing the finest grapes to some of the industry’s best known producers. It is only recently, though, that wine lovers could collect wines from the Franscioni vineyards under the family’s own labels. From the Santa Lucia Highlands, San Benito County and Monterey County, Ray Franscioni and family have introduced their limited Puma Road, Pedregal, and Lilia releases. Wines with a delicious sense of place, the result of two decades wine growing experience…

Odonata Wines

Odonata Wines is a small family winery based here on the west side of Santa Cruz. We do our best to focus on local grapes that are organic and grown sustainably. We work closely with the growers to ensure the highest quality wines from the vines to the glass. Odonata wines are made to be accessible now, but will also age beautifully. They will always be handmade in small batches to exemplify the unique qualities of the varietal and vineyard.

Scheid

Al Scheid first purchased property in Monterey County in early 1972. Monterey wine grape growing was in its infancy and Al was drawn to the region for its untapped potential. Back then, Scheid Vineyards was called Monterey Farming Corporation and it was originally structured as a limited partnership. If you are over 50, you may remember that the tax laws at that time allowed investors to offset losses against regular income. Al, a graduate of Harvard Business School and an investment banker and entrepreneur, was running his own investment company and became intrigued with the idea of vineyards as a tax shelter vehicle – heavy investment on the front end and no income until at least five years into the project.

After determining that it was a sound plan and Monterey County was an ideal region, Al scouted for vineyard ground, formed the Vineyard Investors 1972 limited partnership, and found a customer for 100% of the grape production before even one acre was planted. This was soon followed by the Vineyard 405 limited partnership and Al Scheid’s career in wine growing had begun. It is not exactly the most romantic beginning in the wine industry. We’ve had public relations people inform us that we need a “better story”, preferably a dreamy version that involves riding on horseback through the vineyards at sunset. But Al is a firm believer in Mark Twain’s quote: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Pessagno Winery

Pessagno Winery fulfills a twenty-year dream to produce limited quantities of exclusive luxury wines from prestigious single vineyards throughout Monterey and San Benito Counties. The winery is known for creating wines of distinct character and elegance. It will forever prosper as one of California’s finest wine sources.

Antle Wines

Antle Wines Pinnacalitos de Chalone varietals are 100% estate grown from Antle Vineyard grapes grown in the Chalone appellation, high in the Gabilan Mountains of Monterey County, California. Neighboring the Pinnacles National Monument, the Chalone appellation is characterized by distinctive limestone and decompressed granite soil, concentrating the flavor and mineral character of the wine. With high daytime, and low nighttime temperatures, this unique region produces some of California’s finest wines. We hope you will enjoy drinking them as much as we enjoy bringing them to fruition.

Blair Estate Wines

Pinot Noir is very particular. There are few places on earth where climate and soils combine to provide just the right conditions for this noble grape. The Arroyo Seco district in Monterey County is one of  those sites. For five generations, our family has lived and farmed here. We are proud to share these limited release wines from our home with you…

Bishop’s Vineyard

Bishop’s Vineyard began back in 2006 as a beautification project at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in the Diocese of Oakland. The grounds contained a portion of unused land that needed some aesthetic modifications. Robert Seelig, Executive Director of Cemeteries for the Diocese of Oakland and Tom Richardson, Director of Development, brainstormed a unique idea—instead of spending $50,000 per acre for weed-free, irrigated turf, why not plant some grape vines at half the cost? Planting grapes on cemetery grounds? Now there’s a novel idea!

Wrath Winery

Wrath produces site-driven Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc from its estate vineyard and respected properties in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Its production is small, its distribution is limited and its wines reveal a passion and inherent respect for what a vineyard can give us. Wrath’s viticultural and winemaking methods are designed to showcase the topography, geology and climate of a finite, naturally defined piece of land. While all of Wrath wines possess accurate varietal characteristics, their real strength is their ability to deliver the unique aromatics, flavors and textures of a specific terroir.

Chalone Vineyards

High atop the Gavilan plateau the ocean breezes sweep the remarkable terroir of the Chalone vineyard, with it’s volcanic limestone soils that give the wines distinctive flavor.

Marin’s Vineyard

Thoughtfully hand-crafted wines that reflect our grass root efforts and ranching heritage – specializing in Syrah and Viognier of southern Monterey County.

Pierce Ranch Vineyards

Pierce Ranch Vineyards is a small, family-owned operation centered in southern Monterey County’s San Antonio Valley appellation. We produce limited-run, estate-grown wines with an emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese varieties.

Bernardus Winery

Widely traveled and endowed with impeccable taste, Ben Pon could have chosen anywhere in the world to establish his namesake Bernardus Winery, with the intention of cultivating premier class wines. He selected Carmel Valley, with its west-facing orientation, hot days and chilly nights, and stunning beauty, confident his vineyards there could produce wines to rival the greatest on the globe. More than a quarter-century later, he’s accomplished that not only with his estate Bordeaux blend, called Marinus (after his middle name) but with a powerhouse portfolio of single-vineyard-designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Joyce Vineyards

It is our passion to get our hands dirty and translate a plant and its fruit into a beautiful bottle of wine. We are committed to our craft while personally executing all steps of the wine growing and winemaking process. We attempt to produce wines in an honest fashion while staying true to the varietals and vineyard sources. We strive to produce wines that show balance and complexity, which allow consumers to enjoy them throughout their respective journeys. As our winery evolves, so does our pursuit of crafting unique and expressive wines of Monterey County and the central coast wine region.

Big Sur Vineyards

On a small parcel of land, on the edge of the Ventana Wilderness, overlooking the Big Sur coast we planted a small grove of olive trees, and an essential oil garden of lavender and citrus and made hand crafted soaps. Our first client was Post Ranch and we would deliver to the Mercantile on our trips to Big Sur.

Surrounded by artisan farmers, beekeepers and cheese producers, we were excited to plant grapes to see what might grow best in our soils. Over time a number of varietals – Rhone, Chardonnay, and Pinot noir – showed great promise. It seemed our location had the right elements – its proximity to the ocean, summer heat during the day and cool nights.

Commanche Cellars

Comanche Cellars is on California’s Monterey Peninsula, where we take advantage of the incredible wealth of vineyards that can be found in almost every direction, except, perhaps, due West. All throughout the Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, San Antonio Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains AVA’s, there are winegrowers and winemakers producing incredibly beautiful wines that, we think, can and will rival the best the world has to offer. We’re happy to be in the sweet spot right now, as Wine Enthusiast recently named Monterey as one of the Top 5 winegrowing regions worldwide!

Hahn/Smith and Hook

Smith Vineyard, home to their namesake winery, and Hook Vineyard, just to the Southeast, are located above the Salinas Valley in California’s rugged Central Coast appellation. Among the family’s inaugural releases was a Cabernet Sauvignon produced from those two vineyards.

Today, both Smith and Hook estate vineyards remain family owned, farmed and operated. However, after years of wine growing experience in this region, it became clear that both vineyards were better suited to produce cool-climate varietals like Pinot Noir. While some may have found this discovery discouraging, the Hahn’s, who never shy away from a challenge, did as the climate demanded and began grafting over their estate vines to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Simultaneously, they also committed to sourcing fine Cabernet Sauvignon from warmer vineyards further South in the Central Coast.

With 35 years of leadership in Central Coast winemaking, the Hahn family has built and continues to cultivate, strong relationships with small family vineyard owners like themselves, who are recognized for growing prized Cabernet Sauvignon. The result is lush, rich and expressive Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon, hand crafted from California’s spirited Central Coast.

Pisoni Estate “Luli Wines”

We live wine. We are a master sommelier, grapegrowers and winemakers. Our partnership—Sara Floyd and the Pisoni Family—came together from different aspects of the wine business. Sara is a Master Sommelier, the owner of Swirl Wine Brokers and has a long history in wine and restaurants. The Pisoni Family is known for its eponymous vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands and for Pisoni Estate and Lucia wines. Deciding that we would make a great team and noting the shortage of handcrafted wines at reasonable prices, we set out to create a new line of wines that you would love, at prices you can afford. We seek high quality fruit and craft exceptional wines.

The Luli wines are made from vineyards in or near the Santa Lucia Highlands. Our goal is to showcase the beauty of our region with wines of consistent quality. We source and purchase grapes from lifelong friends in the area, and are therefore able to maintain a close eye on the farming. The wine production, aging and bottling are done entirely at our own winery.

Bunter Spring Winery

Bunter Spring Winery is a family operated “garage” winery in the Coombsville AVA in the southeast corner of Napa Valley. We make small-lot wines for sale to friends on our mailing list and to a few restaurants and wine shops. Bunter Spring was licensed in 2008, by Mark Bunter, after a brief (thirty years) internship in the wine cellars of people with names like Sebastiani and Mondavi. It all started in 1977 at Bill Cadman’s Tulocay Winery, just up the hill from Bunter Spring, where Mark took on a volunteer bottling line position. Mark got interested in winemaking and started making small batches of wine for fun in the family garage, with free grapes. After helping pick scrounged “second crop” grapes from nearby vineyards for a few vintages, Dad Arnold (Arnie) helped plant a small vineyard on his own property (evidently, owning a vineyard was deemed the lesser of two evils). Within fifteen short years, Arnie was ready to let Mark start selling the family Syrah instead of just giving it away. We don’t rush things at Bunter Spring.

Austin Harlow/Midlife Crisis

Austin Harlow Winery was established in 2014 by Bill Austin of Monterey Peninsula, a long time wine enthusiast. The flagship brand is “Mid Life Crisis Wines”, officially released in March 2015. Drawing grapes from some of the best vineyards in California, the Mid Life Crisis Wines offer both intense and complex flavors at a great value. The Mid Life Crisis lineup consists of Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel (from a vineyard planted in 1935), a San Benito County Zinfandel, a Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon (from grapes planted in the Clements Hill region), a Santa Lucia Highlands Monterey County Pinot Noir (from an appellation considered to be one of the best in the world), and Santa Lucia Highlands Monterey County Chardonnay.

Cima Colima

Cima Collina produces artisan wines from small Monterey vineyards. The idea of an “artisan wine” is the partnership with growers who meticulously cultivate vineyards, the insistence on using only carefully chosen fruit, and the creation of wine on a barrel-by-barrel basis.

The focus on Monterey vineyards is an acknowledgment that this region is now and will continue to produce wines that are interesting, compelling and unique. Many factors conspire to make this a truly gifted region for growing grapes. With the cool maritime climate, well-drained soils and energy of our winemaking colleagues, a dynamic renaissance is currently underway in our region.

We invite you try the wines of Cima Collina. We are confident we will meet your highest expectations of what an artisan wine should be.

Le P’tit Paysan

We did not set out to make these wines. We discovered great vineyards at the edge of sensible farming and decided to bring them to light.

The farther we looked, the more we found – remote, challenging vineyards, with hard depleted soils, and intense sunlight tempered only by the coastal breeze. Vineyards capable of producing only the most idiosyncratic wines. Our goal as winemakers is to lightly polish the roughest edges and leave the idiosyncrasy intact. It is here in the back country, filled with individual character, where Le P’tit Paysan comes to life.

We are not in “wine country.” We have no trophy wineries, nor posh tasting salons. This is farm land, desolate hills, and solitude. What we do is simple, without artifice, and we enjoy it.