17 gmhToday Nov Dec 2017 gmhToday 11 2017 - Page 82

The Vine Written By Bev Stenehjem Lion Ranch Vineyard and Winery, San Martin O ne of our newest wineries, Lion Ranch Vineyards and Winery, owned by Kim and Todd Engelhardt specializes in Rhone varietals. They are gaining a reputation for daring new wines. A recent example would be their Picpoul Blanc, a French varietal with a lip-smacking zing. Their estate grapes include Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault and Counoise. With a beautiful outdoor pavilion, their tasting area includes a bocce ball court and views of the local countryside and hills. What did you do before you became owners/winemakers? You mean, besides traveling and having more money? Seriously, Todd was and continues to be an Emergency Medicine physician. I was a social worker, working as an Adoption Specialist through the State of California. I also taught yoga for a few years. I am now gently getting back into the yoga. How did you make the decision to get into the wine business? Over a few glasses of wine, I’m sure! Todd has always been a “big ideas” guy. And, I don’t really remember a time when one of his ideas didn’t work out. So I trust him. And just breathe. We were living in San Francisco, getting immersed in the food & wine culture, and enjoying every minute. I remember my first taste of Grenache Blanc. I was with some friends at a restaurant in the Mission District. The crazy server “primed” our glasses (pouring in a bit of our purchased bottle, then dumping it out before pouring a glass!!). I remember being so mad because it was so delicious and she had wasted some of it! We knew we wanted to leave San Francisco. And we knew we wanted land to grow grapes on (like maybe 50-100 vines? — just enough for Todd to have something to play with and “zen-out.” As many of Todd’s great ideas do, this one snowballed and we decided to buy 5 acres and plant LOTS of grape—maybe just to sell. That’s when I decided to start working the industry, make connections and to learn everything I could. Before we knew it, we were making wine and opening a tasting room. It’s been a fun roller coaster (but you don’t forget those moments when you feel like you’re hanging on for your life!). Do you have a degreee in winemaking? No. I apprenticed at another local winery for a few years, and took some online courses. We asked everyone we could about their mistakes and how they would do things differently. What surprised you about being a winemaker? How much my passion grows with each vintage, and the pride I find in sharing this creation that we’ve tended from the soil to your glass.   What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve? Trying to stress less about each fermentation — deciding how to deal with balancing a minimal intervention approach with the cosmetic expectations of quality wine. 82 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN What is the biggest misconception about you? That I’m too young to own a winery? We hear that a lot. What do you find to be the hardest part of harvest? The long hours? The heat? The heavy lifting? The wasp stings? The stickiness? The stress? The constant decision making? Trying to decide which of those is the hardest part? What wines do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine? I am an equal opportunity consumer of booze. I’ll try anything twice. What are your recent and your all-time favorite food and wine pairings? Recent: Sparkling Rosé with corn & crab bisque. All-time: Viognier with French style roasted chicken in cream sauce. What kinds of wine do you specialize in? Rhone/Provence varietals & blends. Tons! In 2016 we produced a 100% Picpoul Blanc and 100% Marsanne. Neither have been released yet. We have two different red Rhone blends aging in the cellar. Some plans for 2017 harvest include another rose, but will change the ratios of Grenache and Mourvedre this time. We’ll add some other new options in the coming years, as well as the first harvest of our estate red Rhones (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise) in 2018. We’re just getting started! Favorite award or accolade that you received? We received a gold medal on our first red wine, a Grenache Noir, from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 gmhtoday.com