Windsor Oaks Vineyards
2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Sonoma County: Chalk Hill
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Mighty Oaks
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to the Chalk Hill AVA, in search of a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. Return to Wine Spies HQ, with an ample cache for our exacting Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Windsor Oaks Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Julie Lumgair
Backgrounder:The Chalk Hill AVA (American Viticultural Appellation) is technically a sup-appellation of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley AVA. Most of the vineyards in the Chalk Hill AVA are located on the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, near the town of Windsor. Vineyards here, which are host to a wide range of grape varietals, are characterized by their volcanic soils that have a chalky appearance. Read Agent Red’s review of today’s wine, below.
Windsor Oaks Vineyards makes wines from select vineyards blocks in their Chalk Hill vineyards. Most of the grape that they grow go on to become fine wines from a handful prestigious producers.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Garnet red, with a darker core of black cherry juice. At the edges, a ring of beautiful ruby catches the light and glints beautifully.
Smell – Layered and sturdy, this wine presents lovely cassis , black cherry, black plum, vanilla, soft oak and black licorice.
Feel – Crushed velvet on the initial attack. Then, softly dry, full-bodied and plush with finely textured taninns and soft, dark minerals.
Taste – Layers of fruit, including dusky dark cherry, currant, anise, dark roasted coffee, soft spice and lightly toasted oak.
Finish – Lingering finish. As the tannins settle in, they seem to increase in dimension, adding an additional fullness, long after the wine was sipped.
Conclusion – We love this beautifully and lovingly crafted wine! The secret of Windsor Oaks’ wine is simple: While they grow grapes for some of the most prominent wineries in California, they select small lots of their estate fruit to make their own wines. The results are fantastic, as evidenced by today’s lush and layered treat. Pair with a hearty seasoned steak or a little surf & turf if you want a special treat.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Julie Hagler Lumgair
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Follow the fruit and express the vineyard! It’s all about the ART of growing fine wine for our whole team in the field and the winery. We are artisan grape growers who don’t follow trends or go for scores. I hand-craft wines literally barrel by barrel, from individual vineyard blocks, with a winery team that truly grew up in the vineyards and still work in the vines every week. It is the epitome of careful winemaking, as our whole team actually planted those vines and tends the fruit year round. We do not distribute our estate wines, but choose instead to sell direct from the cellar door. My muse is my husband, vineyard manager Douglas Lumgair, who has worked with our partner Bob Stein and vineyard foreman, Lupe Ruiz, for 20+ years. Douglas and Lupe pulled out 175 acres of old vines starting in the 1990’s and have reworked and replanted the perfect combinations of varietal clones and rootstocks to make Windsor Oaks a crown jewel of Sonoma County. Our vineyard team is a family and true “old Sonoma style” village of 20 people that believe that “good enough” isn’t even close – our goal over all these years has been to deliver the absolute best wine grapes to our own small and focused artisan brand that uses ~5% of the vineyard’s fruit, and to dazzle the 35+ boutique and artisan wineries that use our grapes in their beautiful wines. In fact, I make wine for some of our other winery friends…but our lips are sealed! We are deeply honored to grow for some of the finest artisan winemakers in the business. It really is a big neighborly approach….
WINEMAKER QUOTE: We are grateful every day! We are fortunate to have such amazing friends and family – thank you!
Other thoughts: Guiding philosophy is one of karma…we never, never cut corners. Only the best for friends and family will do!
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2003 Late Harvest Zinfandel (Best of Class, Long Beach Grand Cru) was a great first bottling!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Julie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JULIE LUMGAIR: Thanks, Agent Red! This is something new for us going online! We’re at the vineyard all the time, so this is great.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JULIE: So many! An early inspiration come to mind. I was very lucky to travel in Europe during high school (back in the 80’s) and besides bringing home some great music and some trendy clothes, I was fortunate to stay with a family that had a deep appreciation for craft beer and fine local artisan wines. That appreciation for the local farmers, vintners and brewers has never left my mind, since I’m proudly from a 5th generation farming family, myself, and my bother-in-law is a really good brewer.
Once I turned 21, I was on a mission to learn all I could, try the great wines of the world and study how the farming practices connected to the wines I loved. I believe Sonoma County is one of the wine world’s great places to express that connection – especially the vineyards that my husband, Douglas, planted and nurtured all these years!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JULIE: For quality and varietal expertise, I’m thankful every day for the advice, support and input from all of the great winemakers that Windsor Oaks has grown grapes for over the years. Some special thanks have to go to Bob Cabral (Williams Selyem) and Ben Pappapietro (Pappapietro Perry) for Pinot noir, to Gustavo Brambilla (Chateau Montelena, Grgich Hills, Gustavo Thrace) and Aaron Mosely (Chateau Montelena, Biltmore, many more!) for Cabernet Sauvignon, to Kent Rosenblum and Carol Shelton for Zinfandel, and to Terry Adams (Sonoma Cutrer) for Chardonnay. For overall good karma and neighborly support, the folks at Kokomo, Russian Hill, Anthill Farms and J. Cole are tops in my book. This list will really never end!
Winemaking goes beyond just making wine, too. For wine hospitality, I was lucky to meet the late Gil Nickel at Far Niente long before I ever moved to California and the warm welcome and passion as a husband & wife team he and Beth showed have stuck in my mind as the way to make something you love into something others will, too.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
JULIE: Folks that appreciate wine made with artisan quality and heart, barrel by barrel.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JULIE: Wow…Cabernet Sauvignon is king with so much! For the classics, I have to say fire up the grill and get a tender medium rare ribeye going! Bonus points for making a Cab reduction sauce with our wine and some sweet onions, shallots, pinch of your favorite spice, etc.
For a different style of pleasure, our Cab’s good acidic balance makes it perfect with Italian foods with red sauce (acid loves acid). Homemade lasagna is the best!
Douglas and I also think it pairs perfectly with watching sunset sitting on the tailgate of our truck!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Windsor Oaks Vineyards so special?
JULIE: Location , location, location! The Chalk Hill region of Sonoma County is overlapping with the Eastern side of the Russian River Valley, as you climb up the southwestern facing slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain range that separates Sonoma and Napa Counties. Our terroir is world class for so many grapes, but especially the big beautiful and balanced reds.
Our soil is low fertility volcanics, and the micro-climates in our mountain vineyards are much cooler and windier than the neighboring sheltered valleys such as Alexander Valley, Dry Creek or Knight’s Valley since we are right in the direct line of influence for the Russian River gap that funnels the Pacific Ocean’s maritime influences. All that fancy grape grower and winemaking stuff adds up to lovely grapes and wine with highly concentrated flavors, yet very balanced acid levels and long, cool time on the vine to develop complexity.
It also makes for great natural springs that naturally come out of the ground behind the winery at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. These mountains are truly alive, above and below the ground. Grapes love it.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JULIE: Blending for bottling in July, walking the vineyards with our winemaker friends and getting ready for our Wine Club’s spring party in the vines!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
JULIE: Enjoy wines as an everyday pleasure in life and to celebrate the special times, too. Don’t let anybody else be pretentious and tell you what you “have to” like…just keep an open mind and try lots of different things.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Windsor Oaks Vineyards and Winery in the Chalk Hill AVA can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Chalk Hill Region of the Russian Valley – Only eight barrels were produced of our estate mountain grown Cabernet. Savor the rich flavors of black cherry, spiced vanilla, cola and currants, with hints of mineral, coca, sweet cedar and tobacco
About The Winery:
The vineyards of Windsor Oaks are located in Sonoma County, in the foothills and benchlands overlooking the Russian River Valley, between the cities of Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. The entire property is in excess of 700 acres, of which approximately 350 acres are dedicated to “Forever Wild Open Space.” The remaining 250 acres are planted in blocks of new and old vineyards carrying the dual appellations of Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill, representing two of the most recognized growing regions for outstanding quality wine grapes.
About The Wineyards:
Due to our world-class viticultural location and unusually spacious acreage with highly diverse terroir, Windsor Oaks represents a rarity in wine country. It is a wine lover’s dream, where both viticultural and winemaking experts worked together over many years, sparing no expense to create vineyards producing the best quality fruit.
Years of careful work analyzing over 700 acres, pinpointed 250 acres where specific types of wine grapes best fit with some of the finest micro-climates and soils for growing ultra-premium grapes in Sonoma County. Each type of grape, and the specific rootstocks and clones within them, were selected for over 50 distinct vineyard blocks nestled throughout the steep hills, high terraces and low valleys.
Beyond the well-located vineyard blocks, significant areas are dedicated as ‘Forever Wild’ untouched open space, featuring a rich collection of at least seven types of native oak trees, meadows filled with wildflowers, canyons and a multitude of wildlife.
The mix of carefully planted vineyards combined with the significant ‘Forever Wild’ acres of beautiful ancient oak trees and wilderness create an inspirational environment. The vineyards and the wine grapes they produce benefit from both exceptional terroir and a small close-knit group of people that have worked together for one or two decades each to nurture the vineyards and learn best ways to help the many small blocks of vines produce the optimal fruit.
The result is a long-standing tradition of growing twelve types of ultra-premium wine grapes for a number of top-tier wineries that produce highly awarded wines.
About The Winemaker:
JULIE HAGLER LUMGAIR – As winemaker, Julie makes the highly awarded hand-crafted artisan line and also does custom crush winemaking at Windsor Oaks Vineyards (a private 700+ acre estate in the heart of Sonoma County’s renowned Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill AVA’s). She additionally leads the strategic sales and marketing of luxury winegrapes to the Estate’s 35+ winemaker clients.
To enhance the quality of her winemaking, Julie is continually comparing winemaking notes and tastings with the over 35 artisan winemakers that buy their grapes from Windsor Oaks. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine and active member of the Society of Wine Educators where she enjoys a deep exposure to wines and winegrowing traditions from all regions of the world. She also serves in research and marketing roles for the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (Grape Growers) and is very active in the Russian River Valley Winegrowers AVA group.
Julie also enjoys wine judging in some noted competitions. Wine judging is a natural extension of Julie’s passion for wine, combined with her years of technical experience which cover a broad range of beverage and food judging, numerous consumer and chef-based sensory evaluation studies and global new product development. She has won numerous national marketing industry awards including National Gold Effie and Gold Edison Awards for her brand management and consulting work in both Fortune 100 and private firms.
She also guest lectures for industry panels and academic groups, supports various charities and cultural organizations, and remains active in her family’s fifth generation multi-faceted farming operation. She enjoys living and working at Windsor Oaks Vineyards with her husband and muse, Douglas (General Manager and partner at Windsor Oaks Vineyards and Winery).
Aged: 21 months in French oak barrels
Production: 180 Cases