One of the many treats I had on my trip to California wine country was the chance to meet with the winemaker who creates one of my “house reds,” Noble Vines 337. I had dinner with winemaker James Ewart and public relations director Holly Evans at Andre’s Bouchee in Carmel, Calif. Andre’s Bourchee is a French restaurant that takes advantage of the fresh, sustainable seafood that comes from nearby Monterey Bay and the fresh produce that grows nearly year-round in the region.
It was a memorable evening filled with great company, food and wine, and I received an education about Noble Vines wines and the sustainability practices used in the vineyards.
One of Ewart’s special talents is choosing the right vines for the right place. He’s skilled at selecting the perfect vines for the soil and climatic conditions of each bloc in the vineyards. Each wine’s name is associated with the bloc it’s grown in.
The 337 cabernet sauvignon is a clone from Bordeaux, France. The soil 337 grows in is very similar to the conditions in Bordeaux; the vines are matched expertly to the soil. The result is a deep red, full-tasting wine with black cherry and coffee flavors, accentuated by a nice black-peppery spice, but not overwhelmingly so. I find that the wine benefits from decanting.
Since discovering 337 several years ago, it has been my go-to wine when serving steaks, and it’s a perfect complement for my favorite burger topped with blue cheese and caramelized onions. I’m sure the wine would go very well with veggie burgers, too.
When I buy beef, I buy from a source I trust that raises their cows humanely and sustainably. It only makes sense to serve a sustainable wine with it, too. While I end up paying a higher premium for the sustainable beef I buy (and I should have to pay more than for factory farmed beef), I love the fact that I don’t pay more for Noble Vines 337 than I would for many other less sustainable, poorer quality wines. At my local Wegmans, a bottle runs me $10.99, and in higher priced wine stores, I usually see it for $14 or $15.
All of the wines under the Noble Vineyards label are sustainably made. The San Bernabe Vineyard where the wines are grown is a member of the Central Coast Vineyard Team that promotes environmentally safe and viticulturally sustainable farming practices. It’s a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing property and was one of the first vineyards in California to earn the certification.
In addition to the generally expected energy and water conservation steps that many wineries now employ, the vineyards where these wines grow are biodiverse. Native cover crops are grown between the vine rows. These cover crops become homes for beneficial insects that in turn prey upon the insect pests, greatly reducing the need for environmentally harmful pesticides. There are also 100 owl-nesting boxes that are homes to owls that hunt and destroy voles, mice and rabbits that would damage vines.
At dinner, I was introduced to some of Noble Vineyard’s other wines — 446 chardonnay, 242 sauvignon blanc, and 667 pinot noir. They were all wonderful wines, and all retail for about $15 or under. I’m now determined to have a Noble Vines cookout sometime this summer with a bottle or two of each to introduce my friends to more of their wines. (Most of them have had the 337 by now.)
Do you drink Noble Vines wines? Which is your favorite?
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