Living in San Luis Obispo County means you can’t drive far without seeing a vineyard either right by the road or in the distance. But over Memorial Day Weekend we drove up to the Santa Cruz mountains where all you could see were Redwood trees and windy roads. The drive from Atascadero to the Santa Cruz mountains brought us past the vineyards, fields of strawberries, apple orchards and plenty of other vegetables growing in the endless acreage. As the GPS was telling us we were approaching the winery we couldn’t imagine that a vineyard would find a place amidst the redwoods. The entrance to the winery is rather non-descript and easy to miss but once you drive up the winding driveway you know you’ve arrived as you see the vineyards along the road.
We drove to meet my cousin Kristin who flew in to CA for a wedding and is a Pinot Noir enthusiast and a Sommelier. She chose Windy Oaks Estates Winery as the place where we would meet and we were more than happy to oblige. The owner, Judy Schultze greeted us and invited us for a walk up the hill to see the vineyards. The winery is definitely a family run operation as we passed the the owner’s son and a friend cleaning out tanks and Judy’s husband, owner and winemaker, Jim up in the vineyard carefully trimming the vines. We learned about the history of the planting of the vineyards and the unique locations of the blocks.
We returned to the tasting room after our stroll through the vineyard and opted for the Premium PINOT NOIR Tasting which was a selection of four amazing Pinot Noirs. The tasting list is very informative and is a clear indication of the level which the Schultze’s take their involvement in every level of the winemaking process. The tasting notes describe the terroir, how long the wine was aged and how many cases were produced.
We tasted the 2013 Estate Pinot Noir, Diane’s Block; the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, 100% Whole Cluster, Limited Release, the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Wood Tank, Limited Release and the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Proprieter’s Reserve and a special bonus taste of the 2014 Rose, Bastide La Cambe a 100% Grenache rose which was delicious and we purchased a bottle. We loved all of the wines and had a hard time deciding between the Whole Cluster and the Wood Tank Pinot’s but we agreed on the 2012 Wood Tank Pinot Noir.
Judy gave us some wonderful suggestions for dinner and had a delicious meal at Cafe Cruz in Soquel after a nice stroll along the beach Pleasure Point in Capitola instead of waiting for 45 minutes to be seated. It was an excellent finish to an afternoon “in the woods”.