Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

I stopped at Swanson Vineyards yesterday to visit Robin Akhurst.

Posted by outthere, May 8, 2015.

Robin recently took the winemaking position at Swanson Vineyards in Oakville and I stopped by yesterday to pay him a visit. It was the first time I had been to Swanson which was started by the frozen foods Swanson's back in 1985. Situated on their Estate of 100 acres of Cabernet and Merlot just off Hwy 29 it's easy to find. I drove past the tasting room and into the production area driveway and parked my truck. I started walking towards the winery building when I heard my name. I turned to find Robin coming from an adjacent farmhouse which is now a lab and offices.
We exchanged greetings and he proceeded to give me a tour of his office area. He then asked, "Do you want to taste some wines?" It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. He had a lineup of barrel samples that he was doing lab work on. A Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, 6 Cabernet sauvignons nd 3-4 Merlots. All 2014 fruit and vinified to this point by Chris Phelps for whom Robin will be taking over duties for. Fruit came from various vineyards from Oak Knoll district, to Yountville, Oakville and as far north as Calistoga. The Pinot came from Annapolis in the True Sonoma Coast.
After the tasting he took me on a tour of the crush pad, barrel rooms, tasting salon and courtyard. Neat older property with a lot of charm. Robin seems extremely happy with the new digs and it shows in his demeanor. I'm glad to see him enjoying work again as the last harvest at Envy was a bit overwhelming for him. Now he gets to focus on one brand aside from his own Apsara as opposed to the dozens of custom crush labels he was juggling before. I'll check back in occasionally as I pass by every week. It will be fun seeing how his imprint affects the wines moving forward. Will have to wait at least a year to compare against these samples and possibly longer but I'm looking forward to it. Nice guy. Look him up when you are in the valley.


Reply by JonDerry, May 9, 2015.

Not too shabby OT. Any standouts from all those wines?

Reply by outthere, May 9, 2015.

The was a Cab from Calistoga, Amoenus Vineyard, that really stood out. The Estate clone 7 was really tasty as well. A couple had some reduction that needed to be worked through. PS was enamel-strippingly tannic and the PN was unrecognizable as such. Merlots were still going through ML. Still early for all of them as they won't be bottled for another year or so.

Reply by dmcker, May 9, 2015.

Do you know who was growing the fruit for the PN? And how much experience has he had with it in the past?

Nice report, OT, and I, too, look forward to whenever in the future you can share more.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 11, 2015.

Hmm, now where are the three bottles of Apsara that he's holding onto for me?  Do I go to Envy or Swanson? 

In any case, it sounds like I need to take a trip up that way.  I need to talk to Robin about our quixotic future venture involving an Italian grape variety.  And it would be really interesting to see what they have going on there.  That's a prime piece of property and lots of space.  Opportunity to make good sized quantities of outstanding wine.

BTW, J Vineyards just bought a vineyard up in Annapolis last year.  44 acres--who knew there was so much going on in that windswept, remote location?

Reply by dmcker, May 11, 2015.

Ah, but Annapolis is The True, after all. Plenty more space to grow, too...

Reply by EMark, May 11, 2015.

So years ago we visited the Annapolis winery.  We did buy some wines, but, in all honesty, better than the wines were the help-yourself barrell of apples.

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