Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lacing Up For Shoestring Winery

On a recent day trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, we stopped in at Shoestring Winery. It's on Highway 246 in Solvang, close to Ostrichland USA, that weird big bird farm you may remember from "Sideways." The Shoestring tasting room is a homey barn where nice people pour samples and show off other wares, like home-flavored salt and homemade chocolates. Shoestring is a small winery, producing less than 3,000 cases per year. Twelve of their 60 acres are under vines.

Michelle poured for us on this blistering 105-degree day with the memory of times past wafting from the back. She said horse trainers founded the place and named it after their budget. There were once horses quartered in the barn, and she told us that the wooden discs on which the ponies walked are still back there, giving off a pungent creosote smell. The aroma was amplified by the heat and the fan blowing air from the back area, and reduced my ability to pick up the nuances of the nose. On other trips to the place it was not nearly so hot and the smell was hardly noticeable.

2012 Shoestring Pinot Grigio  $24 - It's the only white wine they make. Crisp and fruity, the last of an older vintage vintage.

2009 Shoestring Sangiovese $37 - This exceptional wine spent four years in “used French oak.” Cherry on the nose and palate with earthy, herbal notes.

2009 Shoestring Vino Blend $37 - A new release that blends 50% Cab, 25% Merlot and 25% Syrah. Usually, the lead grape in this wine is Sangiovese, but they got a good deal on Happy Canyon Cab grapes that year. It's earthy and rustic with great tannic structure.

2009 Shoestring Merlot $37 - Another wonderful wine, with a nose  showing vanilla, spice, and a tiny bit of smoke. The palate is marked by earthy cherry.

2007 Shoestring Syrah $37 - My favorite of the bunch, this warm climate Syrah shows blueberry and pepper on the nose, and offers a palate of good dark fruit with oak  spice notes. I had it with one of those homemade chocolates, and it was great.