When traveling to a new wine region, you can quickly cut to the top of the list just by asking around for the locally famous winemakers. In a town like Murphys, winemakers like Rich Gilpin are known by name. He is the man behind the magic of several wineries known for their quality wines. He also mentors other winemakers and consults for several other wineries. He stays up on the latest and greatest equipment to squeeze the most succulent flavor out of his grapes.
Lavender Ridge Vineyard is where you can taste his craft for Rhone varietals like Grenache, Viognier, and Roussanne, the answer to anything-but-Chardonnay. His Roussanne had that lovely rich lemon curd and crème brulee thickness you can get from expert aging. This is a white with the hearty tannins of a red. Their Viognier had a slight hint of that floral fragrance that is typical of this grape yet it’s balanced by flavors of apricot and slightly green banana. The bright red Grenache smelled like a sweet bucket of cherries yet was balanced by many layers and flavors like tart red plum, earthy mushrooms, and herbs de provence. Simply magical!