Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sippin' a winery?

Breaking news; There's beer at that there winery! 

Yes good people, there is beer at Draconis winery in Clarksburgh, California, and oh my, is it GOOD beer! (...and their wine is really good too!)

Logo design:
Galt High School students
By now, if you read this blog regularly, you know that my car is named "Kenji." So, Kenji and myself are on one of those research trips looking for all things wine and anything remotely interesting that we can sample and then share with all of you. We pull into one of our favorite locales, "The Old Sugar Mill," and discover the newest addition to the family of eclectic little wineries.

Tucked way in the back next to what used to be the boiler room of the now defunct mill, is a rare gem of a winery. Rare because owner/wine slut, Matt Powell not only makes some slap mama upside the head good wine, but he also enlists the expertise of a team of brewmasters to craft a pair of beers.

APA/IPA or IPA/APA whatever?

But, before we talk all things a winery no less, let's spend a few minutes talking about how and why we like this place, and Matt,  SOOOOOOOOOO much! (He is so freekin' HOT!...just sayin.')

To begin with, entering this sweet, (no pun intended) little derelict of a sugar shack, Matt openly expressed his delight of my presence by clapping and screaming, "YAAAAAAAYY! Mind you, there were only a handful of people in the large, empty, crashpad of iniquity, thus to be greeted so genuinely warm and fuzzy by the owner/wine slut, I knew this was going to be a great experience.

Matt Powell is a local dude made good. His self effacing sense of humor conceals that he is the holder of several degrees in subjects ranging from neuroscience to quantum physics. He is charming, HOT, energetic, HOT and articulate to a fault with a vocabulary peppered with expletives. What I love most about this childhood Dungeons and Dragons junkee, is that by his own admission, he considers bowling as the pinnacle of his college education.

He chose the location at the old mill because of it's wide open double doors that give him a view of the large heaps of leftover demolition debris as well as the opportunity to see tow trucks dragging vehicles along the adjacent and precarious River Road. With so much enthusiasm and charm...and HOTNESS, I think it is only best to let Matt tell us a little about his wares.

Was that cheesy or what? Matt was such a caught off guard good sport in making this little video blurb. Thanks Matt! We should also mention that Matt does what he does with the help of two awesome chicks named April and Lee Ann.

Queen April
April is a transplant from Santa Rosa. This up and coming barista, (she works for those java peeps from Seattle as well) is a natural behind the tasting bar. (Did you catch in the video that the bar is named, Bob 1 and Bob 2?) She is calm, cool and conniving in how she encourages (bends the will of) people to buy wine. Note: Do not stare into those large blue eyes, it's a trap. 
Lee Ann, AKA, "The Pouring Wench,"and purveyor of high quality dog food, is equally conniving. Her dry humor, ebullient demeanor and shyness are evident as soon as you enter the door. She, like Matt, greeted me warmly  as if she had known me for at least 30 seconds. In fact, I get all giddy thinking about how she repeatedly asked me what my name was.
Nonetheless, everyone in attendance was exceptionally well behaved.

Pouring Wench Lee Ann

On to the Beer!
With a combined resume of more than 20 years of experience, the brew dudes make an IPA and an APA style of beer. What's the difference?  Re-watch the video!

 Personally, the triple Belgian APA was my favorite. I have come to enjoy Belgian beer, and favor the hops being added in the beginning of the brewing process which leaves a slightly citrussy, (is this a word?), sort of sweet taste. The mouthfeel is almost buttery and you can hardly hear the contents of your stomach sloshing about after knocking back a few. Additionally, the process of adding the hops in the beginning eliminates the after bite associated with IPA beers.


On to the wine

Draconis produces currently about 300 cases of wine. Offerings include a Petite Syrah, Syrah and a Zinfandel. Each contain 100 percent of the listed varietal and are sourced from nearby...within 50 miles give or take, leased vineyards.

Drink this wine!

 Matt does not rack, fine or filter his wines, (Google these terms, it's cool information) and he also steadfastly refused to reveal his methode de madness on camera. Beginning with the Petite Syrah, and a personal favorite, blah, blah, blah, blah, was really good. The Zinfandel, blah, blah, blah, blah, was also good. The Syrah....well, it was orgasmically good!

How they measure up!

Never allowing my glass to be empty, but mindful that a acceptable pour should be no more than two ounces...or less, I was spoiled rotten with good conversation, unpretentiousness and killer chocolates provided by a neighboring winery. The atmosphere was warm, fun and engaging. For those who may be intimidated by a lack of wine knowledge, wine speak is only spoken to visitors from other planets.( There is ample space to land a spacecraft among the rubble in nearby fields.)
The totally cool thing about this winery.

Having visited more than 200+ wineries in the last 22 months, (seriously, my life sucks!), Draconis was genuinely the coolest. Here's why.

 Autonomy is something that everyone in the working world would like to aspire to. However, due to the handcuffs of political correctness and the fear of a bad Yelp review, everyone at Draconis was, without fail, well behaved...snicker, snicker, snicker. Seriously, I have never experienced a tasting room where the mastery of smartass-dom and off the cuff, politically incorrect banter...without crossing any blurry lines or offending anyone, (yes, it is a skill) was the norm.

 Everyone had their own way of relating to whoever was in front of them without any preconceived judgements. It was refreshing to see wine people put aside their egos and just pour wine. No complicated verbiage, no noses in the air, and a willingness to say, "hmmm, I have no idea what you are asking me, but here, let me Google that on my iPad." In short, this place, ROCKED!

Final thoughts...and Captain Jack Squirrel.

After sampling...and I do mean sampling, wine tasting is not an opportunity to get your free buzz on, two beers and the wine offerings for the day, it was time to depart. The ladies made sure that I was well taken care of and shared their contact information if I needed to follow up. (I had to. All of my notes were lost  on my stupid-assed smart phone!)
As I bade farewell, I could not help but notice a pair of eyes following me out the door. (Okay, the wine was VERY good!) Somehow attached to the heavily painted brick interior wall was a picture of a squirrel in a pirates hat.

Meet Captain Jack Squirrel! According to Matt, he spotted the campy art piece at a show and thought it was the ugliest thing that he had ever seen. Naturally, and to the chagrin of the artist, he had to buy it. It now hangs proudly, and far enough away behind  tasting bar, Bob1, so that incredibly good eyesight is needed to see just how tacky it is.

Great beer, awesome wine and a squirrel in a pirate's hat are just a few reasons to visit Draconis Winery. Future plans call for the installation of large stuffed chickens, a beer counter...probably named Bob3, and other works of art. Matt is excited about the direction the winery is headed and can't wait for you to visit so that he can steadfastly refuse to tell you how he does what he does.

I give Draconis three slaps upside the head...and that's a good thing,  for their mastery of all things customer service and un-snobbish, (is this a word?) way of making everyone feel at ease.

Until next time,