Food & Drink

Wine Line: In Clarksburg, saving the chenin blanc

In the 1970s, one of the best-selling white wines was Charles Krug Chenin Blanc. It was so popular it sold out every year and had to be allocated to restaurants. In 1996, the winery quit producing it. . What happened? The 1976 Paris Tasting made chardonnay the new white wine star; a new sweet white zinfandel hit the streets; and the rapidly growing wine industry pushed chenin blanc to the lowest shelf . Fortunately, there are a few wineries out there who still believe in the noble grape from the Loire region of France.

The “sweet spot” for growing chenin blanc in California is the Clarksburg AVA, south of Sacramento. The Clarksburg Wine Co. produces three different styles of chenin blanc, all outstanding. Dry Creek Vineyards has used Clarksburg grapes for many years and makes an award-winning dry chenin. Pine Ridge Winery blends Clarksburg grapes with 20 percent Lodi viognier, which produces a wine with melon, pear, honeysuckle and floral aromas and flavors of green apple, pear and honeyed citrus. The zippy acidity and fresh finish make it a perfect summer wine.

Out and about

July 26: Attention moscato fans: SIP Moscato, founded in 2012 by four industry veterans, will open its tasting room in Lodi with celebration featuring celebrity chef Roble Ali. Tickets are available at

• Music lovers take note: Twisted Oak Winery will feature Chris Webster and Nina Gerber with special guest Jill Warren. The concert under the stars is just $20. For more information call 209-736-9080.

Aug. 2: Jack London Square in Oakland will host the East Bay Vintners Alliance Annual Tasting from 1-5 p.m. Twenty-one urban wineries will pour their award-winning wines with food available for purchase. The Vintners’ website,, can fill you in on all the details.

What’s on our table

A few columns back, I praised chilled dry rosés as the perfect hot weather wine. If I run out of rosés, my next choice would be a lightly chilled pinot noir. Finding a pinot noir that is readily available and under $20 is difficult. However, the pinots from the Castle Rock Winery have made our table on several occasions. Here are three current Castle Rock medal-winning pinot noirs from the recent California State Fair Competition: Double gold went to the 2011 Central Coast ($12) and the 2012 California ($11), and a gold went to the 2012 Mendocino ($13). Chill it for about 15 minutes, pair it with grilled salmon and enjoy. Cheers!