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09.10.08

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Phaedra

Wine Tasting Room of the Week

Twomey Cellars

By James Knight

Twomey's tasting room suffers the legacy of formerly being home to Roshambo, the coolest tasting room in the valley—some say, the hottest. Not everybody knows that the facility, nearly brand-new, was sold two years ago. According to tasting-room staff, 20 to 40 visitors a day still stop by with memories of the hipster wine company dancing in their minds and say, hey, where'd they go?

From the road, the low-roofed building resembles a public school in an area with high property values. Sheets of cool water cascade down the crescent-shaped wall at the entrance. The new tenant has merely swapped out the sign, T-shirts and wine, leaving it virtually unchanged. But is it still worth a visit? With apologies to Twomey, let's roshambo for it.

If there aren't hordes of chattering young wine dilettantes, the atmosphere is unpretentious and the staff are chill. There's no rush, because there are only two wines on the list. Hoping for the cool salve of a Sauvignon Blanc, I found two reds. Scissors cut paper.

Twomey, sister winery to longtime Cabernet Sauvignon producer Silver Oak, was founded as a venue for premium Napa Merlot; they acquired the Westside Road properties to showcase Pinot Noir. The 2006 Pinot Noir ($50) is a lovely take on the local model. With an earthy mélange of strawberry-cranberry flavor, it's got an overtone of orange peel and supple body. The 2005 Napa Valley Merlot ($65) has plenty of brambly fruit to overwhelm a hint of green bean, but I felt that it finished tannic and hard. Time smoothed out a library sample of 2000 Merlot, but the cooked veggies moved to the center of the plate, a maverick continental style that bucks the trend. Rock breaks scissors.

Twomey's first Sauvignon Blanc release of 140 cases was snapped up at the beginning of the summer, but they promise more in 2008. Overall production is just 1,400 cases, prompting me to naïvely ponder—just what are they doing with this big 40,000-case facility, anyway? Maybe the answer is right in front of my face: Framed by the spacious environs, through a massive glass wall, a panoramic $10 million view of the Russian River Valley, with the sleeping elephant of Mt. St. Helena peeking over Chalk Hill. Paper covers rock.

Twomey Cellars, 3000 Westside Road, Healdsburg. Open daily, 9am–5pm. Tasting fee, $5. 800.505.4850.


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