Heath Vineyards – Owner’s Club
We interviewed the owner, Brian Heath, to get the inside scoop on the first two Heath Vineyards harvests in Paso Robles and the new Owner’s Club!
Can you tell us about the 2014 and 2015 Harvests?
We harvested our grapes for the first time, since purchasing the vineyard, in 2014 and again this year in 2015! These two harvests were limited to about 1/3 of the normal yield for different reasons. In 2014, prior existing contracts were still in place that limited us from obtaining all of the grapes harvested. In 2015, the California drought brought Spring winds that inhibited cluster development on some of our vines. The good news is, we received some of all varieties in 2015; Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. The Owner’s Club wines will be limited but the quality looks to be superb!
How will the smaller harvests affect the first two years of Owner’s Club shipments?
Instead of sending two shipments a year, we will scale back to one. We always choose quality over quantity. The first shipment (featuring the 2014 harvest) will be a single five-bottle shipment sent in November, 2016 that will include; (1) Captivating (Sauvignon Blanc) – which was a huge seller at the recent wine club dinner, Festa Della Vendemmia, (1) Pinot Noir, (1) Syrah and (2) Absolution (our cabernet-merlot meritage). The second harvest (2015) will also only yield one shipment in November 2017. The content is still being defined based on how the wines develop, but we anticipate a similar variety to the first shipment. Looking ahead in more typical harvest years, we will send two shipments per vintage in November and May.
Can you tell us about the wines in their current stage?
I recently tasted all the reds from the barrel, in addition to Captivating which is already bottled. The wines are incredible. Interestingly, each time we taste the aging wines (about every two months) my favorite changes. The Pinot Noir is atypical in that it has a deep, rich color more akin to a light merlot than a Pinot and the flavors are developing nicely with traditional Burgundy characteristics. The Syrah is dense and dark with a full body and robust flavor profile. The Cabernet and Merlot are both intense and deeply colored and when blended reflect a wonderful Bordeaux-style wine (currently my favorite- but wait two months and it could very well change!)
Which wines are you most excited about?
As I mentioned, they are all excellent and evolving. It is hard for me to choose a favorite because they keep changing. The two wines I find the most intriguing are the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir. The Sauvignon Blanc is much more reminiscent of a white Burgundy than the typical cut-grass flavors of most Sauv Blancs. A lot of pear and apricot show through with an overlay of citrus. The current vintage is still suffering from bottle shock, but that effect is diminishing quickly. By the time of shipment, we anticipate the wine will be perfect. Even in its “imperfect” state, it was the most popular wine at our wine club dinner! The Pinot Noir is also different than what you usually find. The flavors are still rooted in the red fruit and floral tones of a nice Pinot but a bit more pronounced with the deep color I referenced before. I am not personally a big Pinot afficionado, although I appreciate the varieties’ character. I really like this wine!
What do you envision for the Owner’s Club experience as a whole?
The quality of this vineyard is hard to find. You pretty much have to buy the land under the vines to control consistent access to the fruit and direction of viticulture practices. We see this wine being absolutely spectacular in our winemaker’s hands. We are excited to be able to bring this to our members by “liberating the grapes from California to the Republic of Texas”.
Is the Owner’s Club limited? How many spots are still available?
The club is very limited. We are already 1/3 subscribed and we anticipate we will be fully subscribed by the first shipment in November of 2016. At that point, we will begin a waiting list. The only way we will be able to take new members on is if someone in the club chooses to not take their future allocated shipments or if we happen to have a full harvest (which will still reflect controlled yields) and an additional allocation. The reason we bought this vineyard was to offer something special, on top of the great Grape Creek wines our members already enjoy, for our club members. I am encouraging anyone interested to join early! A number of the wineries around us in the Paso Robles Willow Creek District AVA are already on allocation only waiting lists. I am on one currently that only has five years to go!!