Last fall during a visit to El Dorado Wine Country I was introduced to a small winery, Wofford Acres Vineyards. Although I tasted a couple of their wines during my tour of the region, it was not until now that I sampled the Dulcinea Gewürztraminer, which immediately set this winery apart from others.
Wofford Acres Vineyards also known as WAV was established in 2003 when the Wofford’s, Paul, Ann and Mike purchased Cairn Canyon Winery in Camino, California an area near Placerville, nestled in the Sierra Foothills. While producing only 1100-1200 cases of wine a year, the winery consists of 5 acres of vineyards. These grapes go into Wofford’s estate wines, which comprise about 70% of the wine produced. The other 30% come from various California vineyards that winemaker, Paul Wofford discovered throughout his career.
Paul Wofford’s winemaking career began after graduate studies at Fresno State University. He began working at Clos du Val and than Zaca Mesa. Paul was winemaker for Martin Ray and Bargetto Winery. He than became a wine consultant for St. Amant Winery and Port Works, Vino Con Brio Winery, Trout Gulch Vineyards, Hunter Hill Winery, Loma Prieta Winery and California Cellars. During his 38 years as a winemaker, Paul has traversed the California wine scene from Napa to Los Olivos, Lodi to Santa Cruz. Paul still maintains his wine consulting business.
The Wofford’s chose El Dorado County because Paul was already doing some consulting for wineries in the area and had connections with many of the pioneering winemaking families in the region. It also was an easy commute for his brother whose daytime job is in Sacramento.
The grapes varietals the Wofford’s are most fond of are Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Mouvédre, Petit Verdot, Nebbiolo and Petite Sirah. Many of these one will find in the wines of the Wofford Acres Vineyards La Mancha Series.
The La Mancha series pays homage to Ann Wofford’s dad, who you might say was a New Jersey Garagiste. He and his buddies would order Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes from Lodi and have them shipped to Penn Station in New York City so they could create a wine called “La Mancha Red”. Ann says, “When we bought the winery, I really wanted to pay tribute to those intrepid 1970s NJ winemakers, so the first wine we made after we bought WAV we named La Mancha.”
The other wines in the series are the Dulcinea, Molino de Viento, a dry rose made from Syrah, Aldanza, a late-harvest Viognier and Posada, a port-style dessert wine. Like the flamboyant characters of Don Quiote to which WAV wines are named after, the wines themselves each have their own wonderful distinct attributes that make them stand out. Ann went on to say, “The LaMancha name had “legs”, and we like celebrating the Quixotic venture of risking it all to start a winery…”
Last October I had the opportunity to sample the La Mancha Red Blend. This wine is composed of 55% Nebbiolo and 45% Petite Sirah. The wine is bright, fruit forward and very balanced.
The Dulcinea Gewürztraminer was different than any I have ever tasted. Composed of 83% Gewürztraminer and 17% Viognier the wine is befitting to its Dulcinea name. Dulcinea means sweet and although this is not a sweet wine it is a sweeter Gewürztraminer. It is the Viognier that adds that sweetness. The texture is thicker and you really taste the honeysuckle that is so prevalent in Viognier. The nose is citrus and I could taste tangerine and apples. The wine is very floral with a mild hint of spice on the finish.
The wine is barrel fermented and is aged eight month in one-year old American and French Oak. This very balanced wine is one you will not regret trying. This is by far my favorite Gewürztraminer.
It is interesting to note that the two wines I tried from Wofford Acres Vineyards were both were 12.2% alcohol. I am always impressed when a winery can keep the alcohol levels in that range.
Like the escapades of Don Quixote, wine carries its own adventures as your palate discovers the unique qualities in each bottle of wine. In the case of Wofford Acres Vineyards it is the unusual blending of varietals that heightens that experience. In the case of La Mancha it is Nebbiolo and Petite Sirah while in Dulcinea it is the Gewürztraminer and Viognier.
For more information:
Wofford Acres Vineyards
1900 Hidden Valley Lane
Camino, CA 95709
530-626-6858 or 888-WAV-WINE (888-928-9463)
Open Thursday – Sunday
March through December 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
January and February 12 to 4 p.m.
September and October
Open Every Day Except Wednesday
Mon. & Tues. 12 to 4 p.m.
Thurs. – Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.