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You might know them by many names – District 7, Ryder Estate, Ranch 32, Metz Road and Stokes’ Ghost (to name just a few). But no matter what label they’re producing under, California-based Scheid Family Wines is producing some of the best value wines on the market.
WineOnline, an online wine retailer shipping fine, unusual and delicious wines across Ontario, says Scheid Family Wines are among some of their top-selling products (and with bottles from all over the world available in their product lineup, that’s no small feat).
The Monterey County-based family of wineries got its start back in 1972, when the region was only just blooming as a wine production area. The Scheids started out as growers selling to other wineries until the late ‘80s, when they began using the best of the bunch to fuel their own winemaking operations.
Now, Scheid has 4,000 acres spread over 12 estate vineyards in the Salinas Valley, a coastal area kept cool thanks to the nearby mountain ranges and marine air from Monterey Bay. Thanks to that cooling effect, grapes ripen more slowly and evenly, resulting in extra “hang time” on vines – which leads to more intense flavours, richer colours and a more intense varietal expression.
On top of that, the scope of their vineyards – spread over a 112-kilometre stretch of the valley – gives Scheid access to a broad array of soils and microclimates that translates into a kaleidoscopic variety of grapes.
And WineOnline sommelier Sam Fritz Tate adds that although they still produce grapes for other winemarkers – like another WineOnline favourite, Bien Nacido –”they only keep the best pieces back for themselves.”
No matter which bottle you pick up, you can rest easy that it’s been sustainably produced. Scheid’s vineyards are certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a statewide program that verifies winegrowers’ adoption and implementation of sustainable practices.
If great value wine from California is what you’re after, Fritz Tate recommends taking a closer look at two of Scheid’s brands:
Scheid’s Ryder Estate line ably balances refinement with affordability. Indeed, Fritz Tate says, “Ryder’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are our benchmark for great value California wines.”
The Cabernet Sauvignon, one of their best-known wines, has hauled in its share of prizes in recent years, including silver at the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This bold, fruit-driven wine is warm-fermented in stainless steel before being aged on new and neutral French, American and Hungarian oak.
Meanwhile, the Ryder Chardonnay is slowly fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures, in an effort to maintain the grape’s natural fresh fruit aromatics. Thirty per cent of the final blend is aged on new French oak – a gentle approach to oaking that’s become a hallmark of Scheid wines.
“We don’t want the oak to overpower and cover up the beautiful fruit that we toil in the vineyards to grow,” Scheid’s VP of winemaking, David Nagengast, said in an interview. That approach is clearly paying off: Ryder’s Chardonnary took Best of Class in the 2017 California State Fair Wine Competition.
Scheid Family Wines’ Craftwork brand was meant to “honour the best of traditional winemaking”, putting the natural expression of each variety and vintage front and centre.
Among the six wines currently produced under the Craftwork label, their Pinot Noir is one of the most beloved. “Craftwork Pinot Noir is one of our largest selling Pinots on the site and provides incredible value for the price point,” Fritz Tate says.
Pinot Noir is one of the chief varieties grown by Scheid, and there’s a reason for that: According to the company, Pinot Noir is the most terroir-sensitive grape variety, and the vineyard’s cool climate helps maintain consistency and quality.
The grapes are picked in the early morning at optimum ripeness and cold soaked for three days to boost the colour and flavour. Next, it’s fermented and held on the skins for two weeks before being aged with a combination of new and neutral oak.
Want to try Scheid Family Wines for yourself? Reach for these favourites from WineOnline:
Sam Fritz Tate: This elegant wine opens with aromas of black cherries, raspberries and plums. Medium-bodied with soft tannins, the bright red fruit flavors balance a lingering, sweet oak finish. Pairs beautifully with grilled salmon, roast duck, pork tenderloin and soft-ripened cheeses. $24.99 / bottle. Buy at WineOnline.ca.
Sam Fritz Tate: The 2018 Ryder Estate Chardonnay is a bright, focused and elegant wine with aromas of vanilla, orange blossom, and yellow delicious apple. Ripe flavors of white peach, Asian pear, vanilla and citrus finish with a hint of creamy, honeyed oak. $22.95 / bottle. Buy at WineOnline.ca.
Sam Fritz Tate: Ryder Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is rich, supple and bold. A fruit-driven wine, it boasts flavors of dark berries and plum with notes of mocha. The tannins are silky and satisfying, leading to a balanced and elegant finish. Pairs perfectly with bacon-wrapped asparagus, grilled blue cheese burgers or date night filet with that special someone. $22.95 / bottle. Buy at WineOnline.ca.