Vertical and a View With Handley Cellars
At an exclusive tasting of Handley Cellars wine at San Francisco’s Waterbar, guests experienced amazing views, delicious wine, and tasty morsels. Upon arrival, we were treated to a glass of sparkling wine, served on an outdoor terrace overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Sipping a glass of bubbly and conversing with other wine aficionados was a great start to the day.
Handley Cellars is a family-owned winery that has been making wine for 30 years. The winery has a female owner and winemaker, Milla Handley, and co-winemaker, Kristen Barnhisel. At the tasting, we were given the opportunity to sample a vertical of 13 vintages of Pinot Noir, beginning with the 1993 Anderson Valley. After a brief introduction, we were sniffing, swirling, and spitting – to determine the flavor characteristics of each of the wines.
Every year of Pinot Noir exhibited different characteristics based on the terroir, vines, and age. We admired the ruby color of the wine, the aroma of berries and cherries, and learned to appreciate the subtle differences in each of the vintages. After tasting our way through thirteen years of Pinot, Milla and Kristen shared with us what contributed to the differences in flavor. In some cases the grapes were harvested early, or late, and some almost fell prey to forest fires.
The Anderson Valley is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and of course, sparkling wine made from these varietals. Rolling hills and cooler air from the coast contribute to the perfect climate for producing Handley’s award-winning wines. The winery and tasting room are located on a 59-acre historic ranch property containing a refurbished ranch house, barn, and the original water tower.
At Handley Cellars, they utilize the whole berry during the crush, but keep each of the lots separate, which gives them a lot of control when it comes to blending them or producing a vineyard-designated wine, all of which is aged in French Oak.
After the formal tasting concluded, we were offered appetizers paired with Handley Cellars white wines, overlooking the magnificent waterfront. Crisp Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Riesling were accompanied by savory bites. It was a perfect afternoon.
Details: Handley Cellars is located three hours north of San Francisco near the town of Philo. Their tasting room is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May to October and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. November to April. Tours are available by appointment. Food and wine pairings are offered the first weekend of each month.
For more information, call 800-733-3151 or visit their website.