The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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Page 51 of 124

november 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  51 N estled inside Scheid Family Wines' 335-acre Riverview property outside Soledad, California, is a "vineyard within a vineyard" paying hom- age to Marta Kraftzeck, a Monterey County native and the region's first female winemaker. Aptly named—you guessed it—Marta's Vineyard, the 6-acre plot is encompassed by the family-owned company's northernmost estate vineyard. It also serves as somewhat of a microcosm of Scheid Family Wines' overarching approach to winemaking: Planted largely to grape varieties seldom grown in California, Marta's serves as a breeding ground for experimentation rarely executed by a commercial winery of Scheid's size. While this year marks Kraftzeck's tenth harvest at Scheid, it's her 35th year making wine in Monterey. On a warm morning in early October, Kraftzeck strolled the vineyard rows of Fiano, Grüner Veltliner, Petit Manseng, Pinot Meunier, and Dolcetto grapes, admiring the thickness of the latter variety's hefty clusters. "If you look at the top ten varieties in the world, they used to be a much smaller percentage of the amount produced than they are now, and a lot of those interesting varieties are fading by the way- side," Kraftzeck explained. "I think it's up to growers like Scheid to embrace a bit of diversity." Of the 23 "unusual" varieties Scheid has planted on its Riverview, Mesa del Rio, San Lucas, and Hames Valley properties—the winery's 11 estate vineyards comprise roughly 4,000 acres within a 70-mile span— it's currently bottling ten as single-varietal wines primarily shared with its 2,500-member wine club. The others are typically incorporated into blends like the Scheid Vineyards Odd Lot Red. "Sometimes we'll plant just a half-acre of something and it does so beautifully that we see that there's actually potential to expand production and go beyond our wine club to do something primarily for on-premise," says Executive Vice President (and founder Al Scheid's daughter) Heidi Scheid. Among the most successful of the standalone releases are the Grenache Blanc and the Grüner, as well as the Tannat, the Portuguese variety Touriga Nacional, and the Petit Manseng, which Vice President of Winemaking Dave Nagengast says makes for a "great dessert wine" and "conversation piece." Considering Scheid usually produces a maximum of just 250 cases of each variety at a time, Heidi said "it's pretty easy to sell through it." "A lot of people come to the tasting room specifically because they've heard we have unusual varietals," she adds. "You come to Monterey and you taste a lot of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—which is great, because who doesn't love a beautiful Monterey Pinot or Chardonnay—but sometimes when you have a couple-day trip, you want to taste something different. We're one of the few growers that's gone out on that ledge." In the top image, hefty clusters of Dolcetto, a Piedmontese grape, grow in Marta's Vineyard inside Scheid Family Wines' Riverview property. Below, Scheid Family Wines Winemaker Marta Kraftzeck walks the rows of her eponymous 6-acre "vineyard within a vineyard." by Kate Newton photos by John Curley

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