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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Wine of West Marin

Mary Stubbs at home with her potbelly pig

Marin County is the first county over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and starts with our own town of Sausalito. It’s not necessarily what one would call “Wine Country” since there are only 15 vineyards in the entire county. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes flourish in our fog-influenced cool climate, which is surrounded by the San Pablo Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

High in the hills of West Marin, smack in the middle between San Pablo Bay and Tomales Bay at the ocean, is the 600 acre Stubbs Family Farm, organically farmed and operated by Mary & Tom Stubbs for the last 20 years. Visiting Stubbs is above and beyond the average wine tasting experience. Trying to find it among the rolling hills of West Marin, where the roads have no signs or lines, is all part of the adventure. When you see the giant horns of the exotic South African cattle (called Watusi) roaming around, you know you’ve found the right place.

Chickens, emus, pot-bellied pigs and llamas strut the grounds filled with unusual steampunk-style architecture and art, all the creation of the Stubbs, who live “off the grid”, free of electricity and gas.  They use the technology of wine and solar to power their farm and make their wines. Of these 600 acres of bucolic rolling hills, just 11 are dedicated to growing grapes.

The fog of Tomales Bay and nearby Point Reyes can blanket the vineyard over many months, but Stubbs Vineyard enjoys Indian summers (as does Sausalito) in September or early October. This late hit of warm sunshine helps the fruit fully ripen.

Tasting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the vineyard

We are extremely happy to feature both the Chardonnay ($39) and Pinot Noir ($49) from Mary and Tom. Wines from Marin County, while rare, are incredibly delicious and worth a try for anyone whose palate is driven towards the elegant, food-friendly Burgundian styles of wine. 

Their Chardonnay is a focused wine, with crisp citrus overtones and hints of tropical fruits - mango and papaya. The bright acidity adds to its pairing capabilities -- balanced fruit without too much oak to overwhelm your meal. 

The Pinot Noir is inviting with an aromatic nose featuring essences of rhubarb and cranberry. In the mouth, the rich palate hints at toasted coriander spice and the lively acidity leads to rounded tannins up front and a lingering finish of black cherry. We recommend this beautifully balanced cool-climate Pinot with locally caught Salmon grilled on a wooden plank.

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