By Alexa Chipman October 24, 2017
This was my first venture into Gold Country, and despite the challenging traffic through Sacramento, I discovered the area to be a woodland wonderland. After researching boutique wineries in the area, I was attracted to the name “Secret Ravine” and drove out on a whim. The roads led through delicate meadows and mottled groves with farmhouses and an unassuming driveway.
Set adjacent to a tiny sloped vineyard, the tasting room interior is a surprising mix of Steampunk touches with contemporary lighting and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Unlike high priced Napa tasting rooms, $5 grants you a flight of seven wines that is waived with bottle purchase.
They have unusual varietals, such as Montepulciano and Teroldego, using their own vines and trustworthy locally sourced grapes that are farmed in a sustainable manner that has the ongoing health of the environment in mind. Secret Ravine was founded in 1998 by Ron and Vicky Morris who wanted to produce high quality table wines to share with family and friends.
I adored the cute metal combinations of stopper and pourer shaped as friendly animals from bouncing frogs to dragons that aerate as they pour. It turned the tasting into an entertaining experience, and they are available for purchase. In addition to the usual accessories, Secret Ravine provides palate cleansing snacks, like pretzels, that are a huge help in between wines to transition between flavors without them layering on top of each other.
They recommended returning December 2-3 for “Holidays in the Hills” on the Placer County Wine Trail. If you live in the area, it might be worth attending.
2016 Gold Fever
Created from sauvignon blanc, it is a delicious stroll through a tropical garden, with jungle flowers, slight citrus finish of orange peel, and a lush combination of flavors.
2013 Sangiovese Reserve
With musty aromas and blackberry finishing with cherries, this wine is like sitting in grandmother’s attic looking through old photographs with a freshly picked bowl of berries, exchanging stories.
2014 Montepulciano (Doupnik Vineyard)
An extremely rare wine, with fewer than 100 acres growing in California, its rich jewel color is beautiful, although I was disappointed in the taste. While excellent, it seemed generic, but if you prefer fruit forward with strong tannins, it might be the one for you.
The complexity in this alcoholic offering is staggering: I caught whiffs of dark fruit, chalky minerality, caramel, vanilla and notes of coffee. Its powerful presence has a long finish to savor—fabulous wine.
2014 Cabernet Franc (O’Conner Vineyard)
Sourced from a nearby vineyard, my initial impression was summer strawberries, which instantly transformed into the most unusual wine I have ever had. It was like drinking a Provence herb garden in liquid form with rosemary and mint. I’m not sure I’d want to sip this on its own, but with a roasted lamb the pairing would be phenomenal!