Charmingly boutique wines made with love
Do you love good wine? Are you a sucker for a good story? Is personality and charm important to you? “Yes, yes, and YES!” Then have we got just the thing for you! Tahto Wines, dear reader, Tahto Wines.
For a couple of years, we here at the Brewery Gulch Inn have had the pleasure of pouring some of Tahto’s delicious wines during our beloved Wine Hour dinner buffet. Right now, their Estate Sauvignon Blanc and their Johnson Vineyard Petite Sirah are a big hit with all our guests. The first is just so tantalizingly tropical and bright, with great acidity and a burst of flavor that begs you to dance. And the second is so rich and dark with intriguingly smoky undertones that it makes you want to sink deep into an old leather armchair and ponder the weightier things of life, sip by slowly contemplative sip.
Not only have we been enjoying these wines from Tahto, we’ve also had the great joy to personally get to know owner and winemaker Wayne Bauer and his wife Anne a little better recently. On one recent delivery run, Wayne leaned his folded arms on top of the case of summery Rosé he had put down on the bar at the Front Desk, a roguish twinkle in his eye as he told funny stories about the beginnings of his adventures in winemaking. Anne chimed in throughout, prompting him on points he had forgotten. “Oh! Tell them about the time you won Triple Gold in that one wine competition all because you were taking a nap on the front porch!” She grinned as she said it, as much in amusement at the anticipated story as in pride for her sweetheart’s accomplishments.
Last month, Wayne and Anne invited us to come out and see their little establishment in the Potter Valley for an afternoon. He unfortunately got called away on other business the day of our visit, but she was a perfect hostess, showing us around and telling stories the whole time. “We moved here from the Bay Area in ’96,” she said, “and one warm evening early on we were sitting out on the back porch sipping some Sauvignon Blanc. We looked at the wine in our glasses and the half-acre of land out back, and right then and there we decided that we wanted to plant some of our own vines, that this was what we wanted to do with our land and our lives.” Over the past 20+ years, they created an idyllic little space on their property along a tributary to the Russian River – they have a small yet lush garden full of bursting flowers and exuberant tomato vines, an incredibly charming deck that overlooks the water flowing peacefully by, and beautifully gnarled grape vines that twist along the back half of their property. The small building where they make their 800-1,000 cases of wine a year is just a few yards away from their lovely home, graced by an elegantly simple barn quilt that Anne herself painted in the folksy tradition of the Midwest.
It was just the perfect afternoon. The air was warm, but out on the shaded back deck we were delightfully comfortable as we passed around the dishes of snacks and picnic food Anne had chosen to go with the wines she had for us to sample. Cheeses, olives, fruit, gloriously golden tomatoes from their vines that were better than candy… everything was the perfect compliment to the wines being liberally poured, highlighting different aspects of each varietal and showing them off to their best advantage. We savored each glass and nibble, the whole spread being seasoned with just the right touch of relaxed and amiable conversation flowing around the table. Anne told more stories about their life and adventures making wine as we helped her carry the things in and then strolled down to wade in the creek a little bit. It was so refreshing and peaceful out there, so quiet, so removed from the hustle and bustle of normal life.
As we said our adieus, with warm hugs all around, we felt like we had been adopted into a new family of sorts. The whole thing had been more than just your normal wine tasting experience – it had been an open-armed welcome to the world of Tahto Wines. They made us feel totally at home, filled us up with stories and tasty wine, and charmed the socks right off of us.
If you would like to visit the idyllic retreat that is Tahto Wines, call ahead to make an appointment and get directions. It’s a great side trip into Potter Valley if you’re coming or going over Highway 20. You can also catch a few of their wines at the inn, or order online!
Written by Laura Hockett