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Sometimes, instead of throwing caution to the wind, you need to throw your GPS out the window and just trust the directions you’ll find on a winery’s website. This is one of those cases. It will serve you ill to trust the theoretical vagueness of misguided engineers at takeout-cluttered desks somewhere in Mountain View.
So, before hitting the road, download the new iPhone app for the Santa Cruz Mountains wineries, or hit the Poetic Cellars website, to get the directions to this remarkably easy to find little oasis in the middle of blessedly untouched territory in the hills above Santa Cruz. Literally, it is only 11 minutes off Highway 17 from the Vine Hill exit. It only feels like forever. You’ll breathe a sigh of contented relief as you head down the driveway to Poetic Cellars: the scenery is lovely, serene and there is an unmistakable sense of finally having reached a place that is uniquely like no other.
Welcome to the place where all the wine is bottled poetry, and each of the bottles bears its own unique poem inspired both by the wine inside and the woman who makes them. Katy Lovell has been making wine for 16 years, and enjoys every aspect of the process from picking the grapes to creating the labels for the bottles. Her partner, Joseph Naegele, an attorney by trade, pens poetry for each varietal or blend, matching prose to the spirit of the grape.
With eight varieties grown in her Livermore vineyard, and three additionally sourced from local Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards, Katy makes everything from fruit-driven Chardonnay and Pinot, to rich, dense Syrah and Petite Sirah. Her signature varietal is her Mourvedre: intriguingly smoky and sexy, but her blends are really growing her fan base.
The well-decorated winery tasting room offers many options for browsing for art, wine-related gifts and unique food items, including locally sourced Tabitha’s Appropriate Jams and B&R Farms apricot products. Open weekends from noon to 5pm and by appointment, the spacious tasting room and sunny courtyard beckons with plenty of tables for relaxed, unhurried tastings.
You’re likely to meet either Katy herself, Joseph or Katy’s son, Zach, who helps her with forklifting of barrels, topping off, bottling labeling and so forth. Son Brett and daughter Julie also pitch in to help Mom with the never-ending set of tasks, including making cute cork reindeer at Christmas.
Creativity runs deep in this family: Katy’s previous careers include concert flutist and fiber artist, a talent she shares with her mother.
When not weaving fiber, Katy enjoys weaving wine blends, like a poet loves polishing off each participle to create the perfect wordplay on the page and in your mind’s ear. The 2007 Poetic Cellars “Mantra,” a delicious blend of 45% Mourvedre, 45% Syrah and 10% Sangiovese, is a smooth, multi-layered experience of pure pleasure, balancing the racy, wild red fruits of the Mourvedre with the depth and richness of the Syrah. Spritely Sangiovese adds charming cherries and buttery smooth tannins to create a Mantra worth repeating over and over. This may become your favorite Rhone-style wine ever!
Another well-woven gem is the 2007 Poetic Cellars “Ballad” Bordeaux Blend, equal parts of cassis and cigar-laden Cabernet Sauvignon, and smooth, dark chocolate Merlot, plus 10% Cabernet Franc, which provides the perfect balance of power. Low in alcohol, this restrained, elegant wine has lovely notes of lavender, dark cassis, caraway, cedar and tarragon, layered with cured Westphalian ham, dark chocolate and intriguing hints of spicy green olives.
Katy will be releasing her newest blend, “Serenade,” for the winery’s two-year anniversary on Valentine’s Day. Come visit and taste bottled poetry for yourself.
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