Featured Winery: La Honda Winery
In anticipation of this year’s Silicon Valley Wine Auction, ESV sought out some of the participating vintners to learn about them, their wines and involvement this year's auction. Here, we caught up with Redwood City-based La Honda Winery owner and GM David Page and winemaker Colin McNany.
ESV: Tell us about La Honda Winery and what distinguishes it?
DP: We manage and hand farm 50 local vineyards in the hills between Woodside and Los Gatos. We do that very deliberately to grow the fruit in the perfect place for each grape. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains we are very lucky because we have so much diversity in elevation, soil and climate, and we take full advantage of it. We farm Pinot up in La Honda where it’s very cold and Cabernet down in Saratoga and Los Gatos where it’s regularly 15-20 degrees warmer. Then we make the wines here in Redwood City, where we have a crushpad and winemaking facility – all located in an urban winery that is used a lot for private events.
ESV: David, you grew up in a wine family business of managing operations for wineries in France. Why did you choose the Santa Cruz Mountains for your winery?
DP: I love the French winemaking regions and traditions, but it’s also a challenging place; the fruit can be inconsistent because the climate is rougher, and new people and new ideas are relatively unwelcome given the degree of tradition. California is one of the best places to farm in the world with great climate and soils, with forward-thinking people and also a good market for the wine. Within California, there are thousands of wineries and many regions. Ours has been one of the most underrated winemaking regions, although we have some stunningly good wines and offer fantastic potential for wine drinkers and makers alike.
ESV: Colin, how did you become a winemaker?
CM: (I was) passion driven. My mom was a culinary chef and my palate was developed as a young child. A love of food stemmed into wine. The mystique of the wine world was very attractive to me growing up. It’s hard enough to grow a flawless bunch of grapes, let alone turn it into fine wine. I studied sustainable agriculture and agroecology at UCSB, published a senior thesis on sustainable viticulture and planted an organically farmed acre of Pinot Noir in Trout Gulch. This helped propel me into the wine world and I found work in the Byington Winery cellar in Los Gatos. A multitude of winemakers were using the facility to make wine, and it served as an incubator for a budding young winemaker. I was taken under the wing of famed winemakers Andrew Brenkwitz, Jeff Emery and Ryan Beauregard. This was my lucky start.
ESV: Describe your approach to winemaking?
CM: We are very hands off and prefer the vineyards to speak for themselves. We try to keep it simple. We do not own a crusher, we just de-stem everything. The whole berry approach gives all of our wines a very aromatic, elegant style.
DP: We’re using old world machinery with modern winemaking technology and insights. All of our equipment is Italian, modern equipment very deliberately designed to the old world winemaking style and spec.
I think it’s also important to understand one other bit of our business: When we have barrels that Colin says don’t make the cut, once a year he will put together a table wine with the surplus barrels to share with the community for $5 a bottle. It means Colin’s not forced to put all of the Pinot into the Pinot. The final stage of our wine making is the curation, and it raises the caliber of the La Honda wines.
ESV: Has this year’s record rainfall affected your vineyards? What do you expect to see in the next vintage?
DP: It’s provided a healthy reset for the soil. The drip irrigation we have on every vine helps, but it doesn’t keep the whole vineyard in optimal balance. There was no flooding for us and the vines were in winter dormancy. So it should be good news, though the weather for the next six months is a more important factor.
CM: It’s going to be a very interesting year. There’s going to be excessive canopy. We could see a lot more fruit and weight this year. No one has seen a season like this year. It will be a day-by-day, week-by-week decision for the viticulture team. You’ll be able to taste whether there’s vineyard management in the wine.
ESV: Which of your wines will be included in the Silicon Valley Wine Auction?
CM: We are pouring three award-winning wines:
2015 Chardonnay. It’s modern, fresh and crisp with gorgeous natural acidity. Grown predominately in Los Altos Hills and Woodside, it earned 92 points and Editors Choice from the Wine Enthusiast. (Favorite pairing: with shellfish or Abalone. Colin dives for fresh Abalone!)
2014 Exponent Red Blend. Our blend of Cab (from Los Gatos), Merlot (Woodside and Los Altos Hills), Sangiovese (La Honda) and Syrah (Los Altos Hills) is a medium-bodied wine that captures a great balance of fruit and mineralogy from our local mountains. It was named Best of Class by The San Francisco Chronicle. (Suggested pairing: Fresh pasta, gourmet burger or pizza.)
2012 Lonehawk Cabernet. It’s a very age-worthy wine and great example of a mountain grown Cabernet from Saratoga. Lonehawk is probably our most sought after wine and the only single vineyard designate wine in our portfolio. Small berries, red fruits, essence of juniper berries with firm structure. It received 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. (Excellent paired with thick-cut Ribeye, grilled lamp chops.)
La Honda Winery
2645 Fair Oaks Avenue
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone (650) 366-4104
The winery hosts private events and usually holds a monthly Open Day and Winetasting, typically on the 3rd Saturday of the month, from 12-4 pm.
ESV is delighted to partner with the 2017 Silicon Valley Wine Auction, taking place May 20-21, 2017 at Runnymede Farm in Woodside. Produced by Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, the annual event brings together 100 of the top winemakers and growers of the Santa Cruz Mountains. All proceeds from the event benefit Silicon Valley Education Foundation and STEM Leadership Institute.
It’s been a great year for mushrooms. Here, Colin McNany shared with us his Mushroom-on-Mushroom pasta, made with locally harvested black trumpets and chanterelles. Perfect with Pinot.
Wild Trumpet Mushroom on Mushroom Pasta
- 300 g semolina flour
- 30 g dried, finely ground black trumpets
- 3 g salt
- 50 g water
- 2 eggs
1. In a bowl, combine the semolina flour with the salt.
2. Combine the dried, powdered black trumpets with the flour.
3. Add eggs and water.
3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then knead it further for 5 minutes.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic or cover with a damp towel, and allow it to rest at least 30 minutes. It can be refrigerated for a day or so if tightly wrapped.
5. Cut the dough ball into quarters, and use a pasta roller to roll it out into flat sheets, starting at level 1 and rolling it down to level 5 thickness, re-folding and rolling it again if it is falling apart. The more you work it, the smoother it becomes. We like the fettuccine size cut for this firm dough.
6. Dry the pasta and store, or cook fresh in plenty of salted, boiling water, about 2-3 minutes, until al dente. Toss with black trumpet white sauce (fresh black trumpet dry sautéed mushroom stock and standard cream sauce) and fresh sautéed trumpets with garlic.