What is it that makes you want to try a wine? Word of mouth? Price? Where it’s from? The awards it’s won? What if it was simply about how it tasted and made you feel? I’ve tried a lot of wine in my day and I still can’t tell you anything about tannins or aromatic notes. All I know is what I like, (what I can afford), and how it makes me feel.
I’m also a sucker for vineyards with rustic barn appeal and fancy decorations. So when I stepped into the Twisted Root Winery tasting room in the Carmel Valley in Central California I was REALLY thrown off. It felt like home. The open farmhouse feel was incredibly welcoming and surprising. The clean and classic decorations and farm tables were cozy and sophisticated at the same time. And the window seats with coffee tables made me wanna give up working in Starbucks for an afternoon work wine.
But what truly separates this winery from every other, are the owners Josh and Julie Ruiz. We headed out to the beautiful courtyard with it’s relaxing vibe and lion-head fountains, and dug into some local meats and cheeses as they talked about their family’s history starting the vineyard in 1918 and taking on the winery as a passion project in 2016.
Josh is a farmer who still spends his days with his hands in the dirt and when I asked him about the ambiance of the tasting room he said “When we were designing it I said ‘Look, I want it to be nice. I want it to be simple and clean but when I come in with my dirty jeans and my boots from the farm I don’t want to have to worry about messing something up or being improper…I’m still a farmer at heart. That’s who I am.’”
Twisted Roots is all about making everyone feel at home and taking away the pretentiousness of wine-tasting. And the awards? They’ve won them; but as Josh says “That’s not what it’s about…I don’t want Joe Public to walk in and see an award and like the wine BECAUSE they saw an award.” When I asked about which wines won, he wouldn’t tell me. He said he keeps the awards on his night stand at home and that he’s proud of them, but won’t ever display them for the public. It’s a refreshing charm to simply taste wine and decide for myself how I feel about it. And let me tell you…it’s my new favorite! I left with three bottles.
So what makes the wine so spectacular? Other than the wonderful people behind it, it’s simply done right! They believe in letting the grapes speak for themselves. Using sustainable farming, they prefer to use “neutral” French Oak barrels to age the wine without influencing the flavor and keeping the grapes as the main focus. The location of the California Central Valley also makes for an ideal grape-growing climate and as Josh and Julie say “If you don’t like OUR wine, it’s ok. We’re going to point you in a direction where you’re going to like something because you’ll come back to the village again with your friends and maybe your friends will like it. We all rise together”.
Now that’s a wine culture that I can get behind!
Monica Ortega is the host of the online travel show Monica Goes. An actress, singer, and entertainer, she has been featured on Matador Network, USA Today’s 10Best, Voyage LA, and more. She specializes in working with tourism boards to showcase destinations and show others that you don’t need to be an expert or an adrenaline junkie to face your fears and go on adventures!