Sherry Harkins, a partner at 32 Winds Wine, is hands down, the hostess with the mostest.
I wander up for my appointment, which she’s completely forgotten. Without missing a beat, she pours me a glass of chardonnay and directs me to what she calls “the best seat in the house:” a cozy chair overlooking their picnic area and vines.
Sherry wraps up business with one couple and greets an arriving pair like long lost friends. They wander outside and Sherry introduces us, letting us to chat while she gets a second chardonnay for me to try as well as seeral bottles the couple – wine club members – had previously ordered.
It goes on like this for a while, culminating when Sherry introduces me to Connie Seay, her cousin visiting from Tulsa – not too far from where my stepmother grew up in Muskogee. Fifteen minutes and a flurry of texts later, we’ve established that they have several acquaintances in common – six degrees of 32 Winds?
By this time, most of the crowd has cleared out and we get serious about tasting.
Sherry tells me that Ed Mascarin, the winery’s owner, actually lives in Tulsa, though he was raised among the vineyards of central California. His father and grandfather – Italian immigrants – planted 40 acres of vines in the early 1900s. Ed’s father also worked for the Roma Wine Company; his boss was Louis Martini, who later became one of Napa’s wine pioneers.
Despite this history, Ed didn’t follow in the family footsteps. His career included work for the Department of Defense and, before retirement, owning a company that made heavy-duty mobile equipment.
Yet, he always kept a hand in the industry, eventually purchasing the eight acres that make up the 32 Winds estate.
When he bought it, winemaker Ehren Jordan made the wines simply for private labels, and they syrah grapes that grown on the property are still spoken for by others. As a result, the fruit for their wine is sourced from different vineyards in Sonoma as well as Napa.
Production has grown to about 2,500 cases, most of which is sold through their wine club or tasting room, which opened four years ago. It is built in a former garage, cozy rustic with smashing views of the vines.
By this time, we’ve tasted through much of the wine, the other guests have left, and Sherry, Connie and I move to the picnic table overlooking the burbling Dry Creek River. It’s almost 5 p.m. – closing time – when a car pulls up. The winery is appointment only, and these folks don’t have one.
The New Yorker in me expects that they will be turned away. But two minutes later, Sherry is leading the couple outside, more wine and fresh glasses in hand.
We drink, we talk, we laugh, and as the light turns from bright afternoon to dusky evening, we spy a bunny hopping through the vines and later a bald eagle drifting low over the grapes. The water streams by and we realize – holy cats! – that it’s 6:30. (Did I mention I arrived there at 3? Told you Sherry was a superb hostess!)
Dinner reservations call, so we gather the glasses and bottles, bringing them into the kitchen, exchanging hugs before scattering to the winds.
What I Tasted
- 2011 Lucky Well Chardonnay: From a dry farmed vineyard in the Sonoma Coast appellation, this wine was round and creamy with lemon notes.
- 2011 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay: A cool vineyard site located by the San Pablo Bay, essentially where Sonoma meets Napa. The wine is leaner than the Lucky Well, with more subtle citrus notes and a distinct minerality.
- 2013 Spinnaker Chardonnay: This wine has a bit of juice from the Lucky Well vineyard added in. It’s very bright and fresh, with lemon cream flavors.
- 2012 Lucky Well Pinot Noir: These vines were planted in 2007, producing a wine that has notes of bramble, dark cherry and earth with a lean quality on the palate. There is definitely a bit of Burgundian style going on here.
- 2011 Hirsch Pinot Noir: Lots of sunlight bathes these high-altitude vines, giving the wine its lush feel. Lots of classic flavors going on – violet, cola and cherry especially.
- 2012 Maestro Pinot Noir: This tasted similar to the Hirsch, but more Burgundian in style – leaner with more minerality. A good sipper.
- 2014 Dry Creek Zinfandel: This wine manages to have rich flavors but a bit of a lean feel on the palate. An easy-drinking wine with tomato and red berry flavors.
- 2010 Diamond Mountain Cabernet: The grapes are from a high-altitude vineyard planted in 1895. The aromas are a little older – leaning earth, tobacco and leather – but the flavors are fresh and clean, showing lots of juicy dark fruit.
(All the above wines were crafted by Ehren Jordan; however, 015 was his last vintage with 32 Winds. Matt Taylor takes over winemaking starting with the 2016s.)
Though primarily available at the winery or web site, 32 Winds wines can be found at a handful of stores across the country.