Summer Wines

A Winemaker’s Summer Wines For 2011

I recently had the pleasure of escaping Sonoma County for my annual pilgrimage back to Michigan. Usually, I spend 1-2 weeks with my parents, siblings and their kids near the tip of the mitten but this year was a little different.

When I was a kid my family used to spend part of the summer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where my mother was born. This summer one of my family members planned a large family reunion, which let me return to this place of youthful memory with my wife and kids. It was a blast.

I enjoy these family get-togethers. As a winemaker, I always arrive with a few cases of wine to share at the various meals we’ll have. It is a lot of fun for me to share what I get to do, and what sometimes seems “normal” or “typical” out in our little world is magical and mysterious again.

The first week we spent there was extremely hot. Luckily we stayed on an inland lake, and could cool off by taking a dip. It’s hard to enjoy big, robust red wines in that kind of weather. Instead I found myself leaning toward crisp whites, like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

This visit combined vacation and a family reunion; it was interesting from a wine perspective because I had previously shared the 2007 Summation Red Wine with my parents and one of my uncles. They really enjoyed the wine, and my mom took some up to the Upper Peninsula to share with family. Pretty soon, it was decided that this would be the wine served at the big reunion dinner.

There is a tradition of winemaking in my family. My great-grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Sassoferrato, Italy. Some might recognize that this is where Cesare Mondavi also hailed from. In fact, the two were friends and, until he passed away, my great-grandfather would make wine from California grapes grown by the Mondavi family that would arrive by boxcar to Northern Michigan.

The wine paired really well with the homemade pasta served at the event (spaghetti and meat and cheese raviolis — my favorite). Being able to share a wine that I make in California with this side of my family was a lot of fun. It’s a way that I feel I participate in keeping the memory of my great-grandfather alive.

For me, there is always a good wine for any occasion. This got me thinking that I should make my recommendation for 2011 Summer Wines. So, to begin, I recommend plenty of crisp whites to beat the heat and Summation Red for typical summer barbecues. Cheers!