A short drive and we came to our second stop – San Joaquin Wine Company. My first impression was underwhelming – not decked out in old world winery splendor. Actually an insulated warehouse – very practical, functional and comfortable. But by the time we left, I think it was my favorite stop of the tour. Why? The people made the difference.
The highlight to our visit was getting a behind the scenes tour given by Joey Sagariballa – one of the partners in the winery.
He gave us the history and more importantly the passion behind their wine making. Check out their history here. His partner Steve was a long time wine grape grower but only started the winery a few short years ago in 2005. Their Mission Statement: “Quality wines from the heart of California at a reasonable price”. By the comments I heard from my favorite wine “snobs” they are succeeding.
Joey took us from the specialized wine crush apparatus to the different types of temperature controlled fermenting tanks. Each designed for different grape/wine types (some with skins and others without). I think the highlight and surprise came when Joey took a glass, went to a spigot on the side of the stainless steel tank and poured out a sampling of the wine that was only crushed this last fall.
This sampling was shared with the guests to taste
I heard surprise and praise from the tasters about the quality for such a young wine. I also heard praise from Joey about the skills being developed at Fresno State University’s award winning Vinology Department to help make great wines.
Joey introduced us to the ranch manager (of course I did not write it down and have since forgotten his name) who basically oversaw running this whole operation. I had met him earlier serving the guests in the other room.
An he likes the fruits of his labor as well:
Some more images from the visit:
As we were leaving, this classic Jaguar was driving past. Unfortunately I had my long lens on the camera and was too close to capture the whole car. And I still had the camera set to high ISO for indoor low light. This shot was better than the tail of the car driving away but I wish I had a few more seconds to run further away and change camera settings.
Surprisingly, this was the first of two Jaguars seen on the same day. You’ll have to read my soon-to-be-written post about our fifth winery stop of the day to see the other one.
More photos in the gallery from this visit here.
More to come.