More Wine Women

Women’s History Month is over. I was going to rush this article to come out with the zeitgeist, but nah, March is behind us, but supporting women shouldn’t be. I want to give you a list to keep support for wine women going. I championed a score of cool women in wine here . I told you all about Theopolis Vineyards , McBride Sisters , Aslina , Ehlers Estate , J Vineyards , and Margins to get you started. Here is a new batch of wines made by and/or owned by women! WARR-KING WINES The impressive and thoughtful Lisa Warr-King Packer is not just a winemaker, she has a real devotion to bringing up other women and people of color, in addition to making wonderful Washington wines that speak to the vintage. I had the pleasure of tasting a vertical of her Cabernet Sauvignon and have long loved her Roussanne, Merlot, Riesling…the list goes on. I chose to highlight Tenacity, a 75% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah blend that benefits SPIN (STEM Paths Innovation Network) Girls. She is bringing up more women and people of color with her. Let us drink Tenacity to support them all! 2017 Warr-King Wines “Tenacity” YUM-diddlyumptious. It is persistent, tireless, resolved, and pretty much all the words listed on the back of the bottle that describe the spiritual energy of this wine. It has a depth of earth and a bolt of violet-spice lighting up the purple-fruited night. It is not just purple fruited; it has the vibe of an indigo cloak worn by someone galloping through the establishment. Oh, and my gosh, chocolate and cassis. Tenacity indeed. This may be my favorite Warr-King wine yet. P. HARRELL Paula Harrell has worn many hats in life, but her love of wine seems to have won over, as she created her own wine label! A San Francisco native, she has gone from studying in Madrid (where her wine appreciation started), to education, to real estate, but happily she came back to wine! 2019 P. Harrell ‘Haight Street’ Dry Creek Valley Riesling Named for her property in San Francisco, this gem is as dry as the name of the valley it came from! Aromatic as all get out with honeysuckle and white peaches and lime zest on the nose. Exuberant acidity lifts this wine whose palate is yet more peachy and honeysuckled, but with orange blossom water and rocks. TESTA VINEYARDS Started by current winemaker Maria Testa Martinson’s grandparents in 1912, Teta is still a family affair. A biodynamic, organically farmed, family affair. Everyone in the family seems to have a hand in this BUT! It is Maria who is their winemaker….and accountant, and she holds myriad other hats; she seems to be the glue. 2015 Testa Vineyards Old-Vine Zinfandel Zinfandel was the first vine planted by Gaetano and Maria, the Italian duo that had the foresight to plant vines in Mendocino, so these are indeed old vines. It is bright as all get out, this Zin is. Pepper and perfume on the nose, with a dose of dried apricot, fleshy plum and confident black cherry. The palate is zippy but gentle. Well-adjusted these tannins are, surely the result of such a good upbringing. FRICHETTE The flip of a coin led Shae Frichette, along with husband Greg and son Jayden, to Washington to create idiosyncratic wines in the Red Mountain region. Their wines arrived for me with charming cards encouraging me to enjoy their ‘Sashay’, which is Shae’s personal contribution to the Frichette family. The back of the bottle warned me that I might get sassy. Well now, I am into that. 2019 Frichette Sashay Red Mountain Rosé 100% Merlot, whaddaya know! It is a deep colored rosé full of red fruits and roses on the nose. A vibrant nose! And a full body as far as rosés go. Even more flowers on the nose with stewed red plum and strawberry flavors intertwined with an almost lactic note, plus a minerality that makes me envision a geode sparkling in the sun. ANTICA MASSERIA JORCHE Two sisters, the fifth generation of a family-owned winery, are now at the helm! Emanuela is the winemaker; Dalila is on the business side. The two originally went their separate ways from the winery’s home in Puglia. Emanuela left to study winemaking in Trento, while Dalila studied marketing and communication in Milan, but both now speak passionately about returning home to bring new ideas to old vines. 2016 Anitca Masseria Jorche Primitivo di Manduria Riserva This glass is a lover who stuns you with their intelligence—even sober you think they may be too smart for you, which is saying something! You are one smart cookie. But then they show their sensual side, and you are like, wow, didn’t see that coming. But then they want to discuss ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ while you snuggle. Which is to say this is a heady wine. One minute you pick up iodine and maybe even menthol—these grapes grew up near the sea. Then you get licorice, cocoa, roses, white peppers, plums…and you try to stay on your toes because at 16% abv you can find yourself lost in it in more ways than one. CHALK HILL ESTATE Winemaker Courtney Foley, the 2nd generation vinter at Chalk Hill, has an intriguing educational past, having studied everything History, to Environmental and Ocean Law, to (but of course), enology. And apparently, she enjoys a throwback 90’s concert for fun times. When pandemic times are over, I deeply desire to drink her Sauvignon Blanc at an Alanis Morrisette concert. 2019 Chalk Hill Estate Bottled Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc It whispers, rather than shouts “Hi, I’m a Sauvigon Blanc” either out of modesty or because 8% Sauvignon Gris is there to keep it calm. Grapefruit and greens on the nose then add honeysuckle and a liveliness that cannot be denied on the palate. Definitely put it on your dance card. For both a minuet and a polka. HANDLEY CELLARS Get thee to for this highly worth-the-special-order wine. After a degree in Fermentation Sciences from UC Davis and a few years at Chateau St. Jean, founder Milla Handley started Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley in 1982. An independent maker, she started with a basement batch of Chardonnay—basement as in that’s where she made it, not the quality level. That Chardonnay earned the fledging winemaker a gold at the Orange County Fair! Top-shelf basement wine? That’s pretty cool. Sadly, she passed away last year, but her daughter Lulu has now taken on managing the winery, working with winemaker Randy Schock. 2017 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley RSM Vienyard Pinot Noir My queendom for an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Although it comes from a vineyard named for Handley’s late king, Rex Scott McClellan. I can’t help but wonder if a vineyard named for her beloved means it is her favorite? This Pinot is delightfully transparent with fruit that begs to be called both fresh and rich. Smells of dried cherries but also a hint o’ cola and a lick of sage leaf and vanilla and rum, like some sort of bespoke booze-ed up ice cream soda. Soft on the palate, the tannins are so plush they don’t register unless you make an effort to analyze them. Betwixt two worlds this wine shows itself, and I am here for the journey. GRAZIANO FAMILY OF WINES Current winemaker Alexandra Graziano is a 4th generation winegrower and 2nd generation winemaker but wowza, reading about her life, she was not just ushered into the practice. From cleaning the winery to getting so obsessed with wine that she got a degree from UC Davis in viticulture and enology, she paid her dues. As for the ‘family’ of labels, the Graziano umbrella has a few, but Alexandria’s current passion is for Italian varieties, paying homage to her family’s Piemontese heritage. 2015 Enotria Dolcetto My golly it smells of chocolate covered cherries and blackberries, but also something fresh and spicy. On the palate the chocolate cherry vibe continues, which is part of the magic of Dolcetto. Dolcetto (‘little sweet one’) is bone dry in structure, with traditionally sweet flavors. Think of a dark chocolate bar with dried cherries, but it is darrrrrrk chocolate bitterness that is balanced by ripe fruit. Medium weight. I am entranced. I need to drink more Dolcetto and try some more of the label’s other Italian varietal offerings! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Guilty Pleasures All I Want for Valentine’s Day Is Some Skin Contact Bridgerton, Beverage by Beverage Make Your Own Wine Winter Whites Wine For Kamala Women in Castles Down by the Loire River Whole Wine - Pairing Optional Goth Wines for the Perennially October Soul You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Theodora Lee Wine Situation Final Five! With Lisa Warr-King Packer

P. Harrell

Haight Street Dry Creek Valley Riesling 2019

Dry but so aromatic you’d almost think for a second it could be but...nope! Excellent dry Riesling with all the honeysuckle and mineral you could hope for! — 2 years ago

Daniel P., Matt and 10 others liked this

Fattoria Enotria

Mendocino County Dolcetto 2015

An Italian grape in Mendocino! And made by a woman winemaker. Which mayhaps helps explain how this wine can have tough tannins all mellowed by a chocolate covered cherry. When you are a woman obscuring your toughness (so you aren’t labeled as a problem) with a friendly nature (so they think oh she’s sweet) is an acquired skill. One that does well by Dolcetto.
It is the bitterest of chocolate and the freshest and also dried-est of cherries. Omigod it is not sweet but it realllllly reminds me of dark chocolate covered cherries. And maybe someone infused that butter chocolate with a chili pepper because there is a zing to it. I will party with this wine all night and probably tell it my secrets before dawn.
— 3 years ago

Serge, Max and 18 others liked this
Ron R

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Sounds nice.
Ron R

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Or maybe I should have said that it reads very nice 🙄
Ellen Clifford

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@Ron R thank you thank you! 🥂

Chalk Hill

Estate Bottled Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2019

I was in the mood for Sauvignon Blanc that had more to say for itself than “hi, I’m Sauvignon Blanc” to which I’d theoretically reply “do I LOOK like a Basic B? Huh? Whatcha gonna say about THAT Savvy B?” Kidding, I’d never do that but if I were the type to be so insulting this wine would not bear the brunt of my wrath because it is more than SB spiritually and literally (there’s 8% Sauvignon Gris in the mix). It is understated. Sort of hinting first at greens, then grapefruit and lemons. On the palate it is quite elegant, bringing in honeysuckle and zip. It does a graceful dance over your tongue, a petite allegro but slightly slowed down, not too fast too follow if you happen to be it’s dance partner.
If you like your SB to slap you around and make you say it’s name this may not be your jam, but if you want a little intrigue, this one’s for you.
— 2 years ago

barak heller, Severn and 16 others liked this


Ellen Clifford

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@Ericsson sassy savvy! 🥂

Warr-King Wines

Tenacity Stillwater Creek and Rosebud Vineyard Mourvedre Syrah 2017

I love Warr-King and this might be my favorite yet (although that Roussanne tho), plus it benefits SPIN (STEM Paths Innovation Network) Girls. It tastes like what it is named. It is bold. The finish is persistent. It is complex: at once earthy and grounded as it is exuberant and electric. — 3 years ago

Neil, Matt and 15 others liked this

Antica Masseria Jorche

Riserva Primitivo di Manduria 2016

Whoaaaa it’s a heady wine! Way complex, way deep thought-inducing but texturally it is more supple than one would imagine. Everything from seabreeze, licorice and roses on the nose give way to red cherries and white pepper on the palate. Bright with a tender bite. — 2 years ago

Serge, Trixie and 8 others liked this

Testa Vineyards

100 Anni Mendocino County Old Vine Zinfandel 2015

Pepper as perfume is an odd thought but what if it were and you liked it?! So it is woth this wine. Also that fun mix of dried and fresh fruit Xin excels at. Good times at the old-vine corral! — 3 years ago

Daniel P., Matt and 11 others liked this


RSM Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

Rich n fresh, fresh n rich. It is itself. It does not care. If it wants to wear a necklace of bordering-on-dried-cherries plus vanilla shirt with a cola-infused-with-herbs skirt palate let it do its thing. That is its style, bewitching to be sure, but I’m a semi-retired witch (haven’t entirely let go of my time as a Wiccan) I’m for it. — 3 years ago

Severn, Matt and 14 others liked this