“It’s Monterey County’s time to shine for quality wine,” says the feisty redhead winemaker of Wrath Wines, Sabrine M. Rodems.
She explains with a bit of exasperation in her voice, “Monterey County has been producing great wines for sometime now, but we’ve never really been recognized for it. We were spared the storms that Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles got in 2010/2011, so we better get some notice this year.”
Last week, I visited the Wrath Winery with three other travel journalists to discover Monterey County’s Grapes of Wrath. Both Sabrine M. Rodems, one of only three female winemakers of the area, and tasting room director Christopher Whaley, formerly of Chez Panisse, were our gracious hosts.
The tour ended with an all out feast in the Wrath Tasting Room by Sidonie (Christopher’s daughter) and wine pairing, with sweeping landscapes of the Santa Lucia Highlands and Salinas Valley.
Wrath Wines, owned by world-renowned archeologist Michael Thomas and his mom, Barbara, allow Sabine to experiment with the risky endeavor of whole-cluster wine making.
It’s paying off as Wrath Wines reflect the subtleties of the terroir much like a natural French wine does. Recently, they also were awarded the prestigious Sip Certification, which signifies Wrath Wines’ sustainable wine making practices.
Wrath Wines are a rare find in this way as California wines typically pounce on the palate with their brash, fruit forward personalities.
The Wrath Pinot Noirs were the true beauty queens of the dozen or so wines they produce. My top three Pinot Noir picks were the 2009 Wrath 115/667 Pinot Noir, 2009 Wrath Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir, and the 2009 Wrath Pommard 4/777 Pinot Noir. And a side note, although Sabine says her wines are like her children in that she loves them all equally, her go-to wine at home is the 2009 Wrath 115/667 Pinot Noir.
The ‘fat-free’ 2009 Wrath Ex-Anima Chardonnay (as Sabine described it, referring to the lack of buttery flavor notes) was a surprising favorite of mine too – I usually abhor California Chardonnays for their dripping with butter flavor profiles. Once again, the 2009 Wrath Ex-Anima Chardonnay is reminiscent of a French style wine – like the Chardonnays of the Loire Valley.
The Wrath Wines definitely kept my attention during the wine-pairing dinner, but Sabrine M. Rodems, formerly an electrician in the film/theater industry, was equally as engaging. When she’s not in the fields at harvest time or barrel tasting at Wrath Winery, she’s the chicken whisperer at home.
She has four hens who happily provide her and her husband with eggs in exchange for a moment of affection at the breakfast table. Sabrine heartily laughs as she explains her method to having chickens as house pets, “They get jealous of our attention, so we have a system of letting only one hen in at a time. They climb in our laps and we have our morning coffee with them on a rotating basis.”
Speaking of feathered friends, whether you visit Wrath Wines to taste the experimental wines while watching the birds dance in flight over the pond that borders the tasting room or you want some quirky pet chicken advice, Wrath Wines are well worth a journey to the heart of Steinbeck country.
Wrath Wines tasting room in Soledad is open from Thurs-Mon 11-5PM. To taste Wrath Wines in Carmel, visit Carmel Tasting Room – Mon-Sat 10-6PM Sun 11-5PM.
To schedule your own wine pairing dinner or private tasting at Wrath Wines, call Christopher Whaley at 831.678.2212 ext. 24 or visit www.wrathwines.com
For more information on other women winemakers in California, visit www.womenwinemakers.com
Wrath Wines, 35801 Foothill Road, Soledad, CA 93960