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With so much of the wine on the market today coming from large, corporate producers, it’s nice to come across wineries where things are still done on a modest scale. At House Family Vineyards, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, they focus on small lot wines sourced entirely from the vineyard on the family’s property. In some instances, there are fewer than fifty cases made. Such small production certainly won’t lead to a million dollar business, but it certainly leads to some great wines.

Estate Merlot

 

House Family 2011 Merlot

Grape(s): 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Verdot

Region: Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Price: 45-50

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of blackberries, plums, and cherries mingle with nuances of cedar and herbs on the nose. Flavors of blackberry, plum, and cherry combine with suggestions of herbs, spice, and wood on the palate. Offering plush tannins and interesting non-fruit accents, fans of Merlot will find plenty to like here.  110 cases produced.

Rating: 90

Estate Chardonnay

House Family 2012 Chardonnay

Grape(s): 100% Chardonnay

Region: Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Price: 40-45

Tasting Notes:

A bouquet of pineapples, mangoes, citrus fruits, and fresh bread greets the senses. The palate delivers flavors of tart pineapple, passion fruit, and lemon, alongside notes of toasty vanilla and minerals. Bright flavors and a lively acidity make it a fine choice to enjoy with crab cakes. 175 cases were made.

Rating: 88

Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

House Family 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grape(s): 81% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Price: 50-55

Tasting Notes:

Aromatics of boysenberries, raspberries, and cherries meld with whispers of balsamic, cola, and herbs on the nose. A sip reveals flavors of pomegranate, raspberry, and black cherry that unfold into traces of cola, dark chocolate, and balsamic. With vibrant fruit and supple tannins, open a bottle with a homemade meat loaf. 475 cases produced.

Rating: 90

Estate Cabernet Franc

House Family 2011 Cabernet Franc

Grape(s): 100% Cabernet Franc

Region: Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Price: 60-65

Tasting Notes:

Fragrances of plums, cherries, floral earth, and black tea rise up from a glass. The palate showcases flavors of cherry, raspberry, and plum, which flow into allusions of earth, tea, and leather. Soft tannins and elegant fruit endear this wine to a mushroom quiche. Only 37 cases were made.

Rating: 89

Sonoma Pinot Noir

House Family 2013 Pinot Noir

Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Sonoma County, California

Price: 45-50

Tasting Notes:

Notes of bright red berries, sweet spice, earth, and vanilla are showcased on the nose. With a sip, flavors of strawberry, cranberry, and cherry play with whispers of vanilla, all-spice, and earth. Vivid red fruit and elegant tannins mean grilled salmon would make an excellent companion. 187 cases produced.

Rating: 90

Estate Petit Verdot

 

House Family 2011 Petite Verdot

Grape(s): 100% Petite Verdot

Region: Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Price: 60-65

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, blackberry, cranberry, and dried cherry aromas interweave with notes of rose petal, spice, and earth. On the palate, flavors of cherries, bramble fruits, and cranberries come together with floral, earthy, and chocolaty hints. Bright fruit and easy-going tannins make this a good bottle to open with lamb loin. Only 41 cases were made.

Rating: 90