In 2002 we were visiting the Everett Ridge Winery on West Dry Creek Road in Sonoma County. There we met an assistant winemaker. We mentioned that we were leaving the next day to head up to the Sierra Foothills near Plymouth. Without hesitation he told us not to miss Cedarville Vineyard in the Fair Play region. We followed his advice and have been back to Cedarville Vineyard each year since then.
Cedarville Vineyard is one of our favorite wineries in the entire California wine region. The winery is owned and operated by the husband-wife team of Jonathan Lachs and Susan Marks. The two met in the winemaking program at U.C. Davis. From there it was a long work stint for both in the Silicon Valley in the high tech world, so that they could eventually afford to buy land in the Fair Play area. They purchased the property in 1995 and would travel each weekend from San Jose to tend to the vines and begin work on their winery, until it was ready for full-time wine production. Their first vintage was 1998.
We love coming to visit each year because Jonathan and Susan are the perfect hosts. They are so different than most winery owners. They are eager to see us, along with our group of wine friends. It is a pleasure to hear their enthusiasm as we taste through each of the seven wines they produce. Their vineyards are at 2500 feet altitude in the Sierra Foothills and the soil is granite. In 2010 Jonathan and Susan began a switchover to organic farming of their vineyards. We have always enjoyed their wines, but even more so in the past few years. It is not necessarily the organic farming that has made the wines better; it is the knowledge they have gained from each vintage. They understand their vines better and have fine-tuned their vineyard management accordingly. The Cedarville wines are definitely getting better with age.
Only one white wine is produced and that is a lovely and enticing Viognier. In the reds, Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel varietals are produced. Two years ago Cedarville introduced a blend called Turnabout’s Fair Play. Very clever! And the wine is fantastic. The Turnabout is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We tried a bottle of the 2010. It was fantastic – full flavored and rich with character. Sad to say, only a small amount of the wine was made and it is sold out. The Cedarville Grenache has somewhat of a cult following and often sells out within a few weeks following its release. The only non-estate wine is the Petite Sirah. The vineyard is one that Jonathan and Susan carefully chose for this delightful and elegant wine. It’s one of our favorites in the lineup. In fact, it is our “go to” wine when we cook up some baby back ribs on the barbeque. There is something about our spice rub that matches very well with the Cedarville Vineyard Petite Sirah.
We travel throughout California wine country and we think that the wines of Cedarville are some of the best values to be found. The wines are so well made, and all their wines except for the Turnabout are under $30. Twice a year, we receive from Cedarville a notice of the new releases. Those who purchase early get a discount, plus an additional discount when purchasing by the case. Our wine friends gather and we mix and match wines among us, buying in case lots. We then anxiously await our trip to Fair Play to pick up our wine and chat with premiere winemakers Jonathan and Susan.
If you want to visit Cedarville, check our Sierra Foothills Fair Play Wine Trail for additional wineries to visit and where to dine and lodge. Cedarville is open by appointment only. You will not be disappointed.