New Winery in Amador

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la mesa vineyards

When Come Lague and his spouse, Charlene Li, traveled through the Shenandoah Valley on the way to a family getaway in Grizzly Flats, they had no idea they’d be opening a winery and tasting room in the neighborhoodWhat’s more, they had even less of an inkling that they’d be doing so during pandemic.

More than 10 years ago, Come happened upon the wineries of Amador County and was immediately taken by the natural beauty of the region and the quality of winesIt reminded him and Charlene of their travels to Sonoma County decades ago, when things were quiet and relatively undiscovered, when they could count on “great wines, great people and personal experience at a reasonable price,” he says.

la mesa vineyards

Soon, Come and Charlene were looking for a home in Amador CountyWe found the perfect spota former walnut farm owned by one of the earliest settlers of this area, the d’Agostini family, with some of the remaining 75yearold walnut trees still producing. The only scary partit came with a vineyard!”

So Come started making wine from his inherited primitivo vineyard that sits at an elevation of around 2,000 feetEarly results were encouraging, and soon he was hookedArmed with input from local winemakers and vineyard specialistsand personal researchCome and his team started planting the varieties they thought best suited for the red volcanic granitic soils that pervaded the propertyIn 2013, they started planting new varieties, including Italian grapes, like barbera, and Rhone varieties, including the highly soughtafter Alban clone of grenache noir.

winery view

Jump forward a few more years, and the accidental winemaker was now ready to launch a real winery with a tasting room called La Mesa VineyardsCome partnered with Sage Architecture, whose portfolio included designs for Andis, Helwig and Iron Hub wineries, to design a wine tasting facility that was laser focused on customer experienceTogether, they designed a building with a hip and energetic vibe, featuring expansive views of the surrounding landscapeIn November 2019, construction began.

Early in 2020, COVID-19 would take center stage, and the resulting public health restrictions forced frequent changes to the original plans at La MesaThese obstacles and ever-changing requirements were met head on, and a decision was made to stay the course and keep focused on the longterm goalsOn Thanksgiving weekend of 2020, La Mesa Vineyards’ tasting room opened to the public.

Upon arrival at the new facility, guests are greeted by undulating hills covered in vines and a handful of gnarled old walnut trees lining the winding drivewayOnce parked, visitors step up to a modern building, which boasts three sides of floor-to-ceiling windows for maximum visibility of the hillside vineyardsThe tasting room centers around a horseshoeshaped bar; that will allow for easy conversation and interaction between guests when indoor tasting is allowedOutside, an expansive patio allows for plenty of social distancing and personalized service from staff members who can keep track of guests from inside the glass-walled tasting room.

interior

Seated guests are offered a selection of wines to tasteThe wines come in small carafes so that wine lovers can taste at their leisure and sample back and forth between the different selectionsYou’ll find some regionally expected selections like barbera and viognier, but you’ll also find some more esoteric choices such as the wines featured below:

La Mesa 2019 Barbera BlancHints of cherry and citrus on the nose invite you to taste this completely white, almost colorless, light bodied, crisp, dry wine made from red grapes. Clean and bright, this wine is well suited to shellfish or as an aperitif.

La Mesa 2018 El Dorado Gamay NoirThis wine is light ruby in color and opens with a nose of bright plum and cherry, and a subtle hint of strawberry bubblegum (indicating that the wine had undergone carbonic maceration, similar to beaujolais nouveau)On the palate, this wine is reminiscent of pinot noir, light-bodied and charmingan ideal pair for something like pork tenderloin with a cherry reduction, or your favorite cheese board.

la mesa wine

La Mesa 2016 Estate Primitivo SetaUp front, plum and black cherry notes dominate, accented with subtle hints of vanilla, spice and toastThis medium-bodied cousin of zinfandel offers ripe, dark fruit flavors, a juicy mouthfeel, and restrained tanninsIt’s a pleasure to drink and would be a perfect to anything coming off the barbecue.

Categorically, the wines are well made and elegantly styledThe winemaker, Antonia de Heinrichclearly has confidence in the quality of the grapes and allows the fruit and terroir do the talking.

The winery, located on Shenandoah Road in Plymouth, is not currently open for tastings (due to the most recent coronavirus shutdown) but guests can visit the website to place orders or join the wine clubFor more information and COVID updates, please visit La Mesa Vineyards.