Saturday, October 25, 2014


Chatom Vineyards

Hello!  I moved to Ojai to relax, smell the roses and work on my new book, but it seems I'm being asked to write more than ever!  For weeks I've been interviewing and photo-shooting chefs, beer and winemakers, restaurant owners and caterers and tasting their wares (well, someone has to do it, right?)... all for the big Taste of Ojai scholarship fund raising event held on the 10th Green on the private PGA golf course of the renowned and simply gorgeous Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (you might remember, I wrote about the Inn before moving here a few years ago)... AND, I've been touring and writing about the stunning homes in this year's Ojai Holiday Home Tour, another fundraiser, this one for Ojai's famous Music Festival.  Phew.  But now my work is done and it's time to revisit my fun birthday adventure in Mark Twain Gold Rush country in the Sierra Foothills and tell you about some more wine.

My next stop was Chatom Vineyards owned and operated by Gay Callan, a once upon a time city girl from San Francisco.  So, what's a once upon a time city girl like Gay doing in remote gold rush/jumping frog country?  Making fine wine.

Initially Gay worked in the high tech industry in San Francisco.  Then, when her family purchased land in Calaveras County with thoughts of starting a vineyard, Gay got involved and basically ended up running the vineyard from San Francisco.  But the commute was long, so she packed her bags and moved to Esmeralda Valley.  The locals weren't too sure about this "city girl" farmer.  Would she get down and dirty with the earth?  Do wine bottles have corks?  Yes! And after many ups and downs over the decades she opened her own winery and Chatom has become one of the most respected wineries in the Sierra Foothills.

The rustic wooden building that houses Chatom's tasting room...

... is in a beautiful Mediterranean setting with lovely gardens.

 Inside, you can't help but notice the award winning ribbons draped here and there the winery's received for its wine. 


My first thought...would winemaker, Jason Lewis' wines live up to all those ribbons?  It was time to find out.

Mariah was our lovely barista....

 and she started us off with a 2012 Semillon ($18) - creamy, with scents of pear and passion fruit, I really liked it.

Next was the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ($18) - not a lover of this varietal but I liked this one.  Crisp and citrus-y.

My favorite white was the 2013 "She" White ($18) not only for its crisp, refreshing apricot finish with aromas of honey, but because 30% of this wine's proceeds go to women's cancer charities and the Women's Heart Association.

Moving to the reds, I had four favorites:

The 2010 Zinfandel ($20) has rich dark berry and spice aromas you could get got lost in, and tasting it didn't disappoint.  Loved the hints of nutmeg and coffee.

The 2009 Merlot ($23) - scents of berries and plums wafted up my nose as the flavors of cocoa, tobacco and vanilla swirled around my tongue.  Yum.

Next was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($26) - more scents of plum ooupled with currant and toasted almond with tastes of blackberry and dark chocolate.  Almost a Cadbury bar in a glass. 

Last but not least was the 2006 Vino Dolce ($30) - the aromas rivaled the tastes... scents of raisins and berries, pepper and anise with flavors of blackberries, cloves and licorice, with dark chocolate at the finish line ... all wrapped up in a blue ribbon bow.

If you're in the Calaveras County 'hood - you won't want to miss Chatom Vineyards.

Chatom Vineyards
1969 Highway 4
Douglas Flat, Calif. 95229

Check out the wine club and shipping information