My husband and I celebrated our anniversary last month and spent the weekend in one of our favorite nearby getaways—Carmel.
This time we stayed in a newly re-opened boutique inn called Vendange, meaning “late harvest” in French, which is very close to the town center—and it could not have been better. The place is spotless, beautifully decorated, comes with a nice breakfast, and offers a wine and cheese tasting every evening.
Vendange General Manager Jonathan Lee came up with the wonderful idea of partnering with local wineries to showcase their wines, and he has named suites and other rooms after them. McIntyre, Ventana, Joulian, Galante, J. Lohr, Manzoni, Dawn’s Dream, Tudor and Cima Collina are all featured wineries in Vendange. Selections of these excellent wines await you in each room—should you feel like cracking open a bottle—giving guests an opportunity to taste them.
Twisted Roots was the name of our suite, and it also happened to be the featured winery of one evening’s wine and cheese tastings. We were immediately smitten with the luscious, fruit-forward Petite Sirah 2010 ($25), and headed to the tasting room the next day to meet the winemaker, Josh Ruiz.
Ruiz, representing fellow partners in the business Ross Schmeidt and Mike Hodge, said the Twisted Roots label has been around only since 2005, but their grape-growing history dates back to 1918 when vineyards were planted in Lodi. Ruiz, a farmer by trade, realized he could make premium wine from these sustainably farmed high-quality grapes and set about the task with passion. Ruiz now makes Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, an Old Vine Zinfandel from the plantings of 1918—appropriately named “1918”—and Cabernet Sauvignon, a gold medal winner in this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
The Twisted Roots tasting room is a lovely spot to visit. Connected to the LyonsHead Gallery, which displays an abundance of artwork and nifty things to buy, you can take your glass of wine with you and meander through. Also, a pretty outdoor patio allows imbibers to sit outside on warm days. And right next door to Twisted Roots is the well-known Café Rustica. Ruiz says that customers who need sustenance with their wine can order food from the café at lunchtime and have it delivered to the tasting room.
Twisted Roots donates $1 of every bottle sold to the ALS Association to help people suffering from ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in acknowledgement of Schmeidt—vineyard manager of nearly 30 years—who is afflicted with this debilitating disease. Vendange Carmel, 24815 Carpenter St., Carmel, 831-624-5111. Vendangecarmel.com.