We’ve looked at the Foxglove label from Varner before, and there’s a reason why we’re going back again - these wines are just so good! Founded by brothers Jim and Bob Varner, the winery is from the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, and while known well for the wine they make, this is a producer who don’t need to shout too loudly. No fancy tasting room, no grandiose cellar and no state of the art winery designed by the trendy architect of the day. Varner keep things simple - they make the best Central Coast wines they can. This is their Foxglove Zinfandel.
Wine Tourism is a big thing in California?
They say Californian wine tourism is second only to Disneyland in terms of the revenue and number of visitors brought in each year, so yes, it’s certainly a big deal, and quite unusual for a winery to totally eschew this side of wine business, as it’s pretty lucrative.
Some wineries make a lot from tourism?
Some wineries, when positioned well and with a top class experience, don’t need to sell wine anywhere but at ‘the cellar door’, as they can get through their entire production on-site. It’s not uncommon for tasting rooms and on-site retail outlets to make tens of millions per year at the cellar door.
The experiences must be pretty spectacular?
Aside from touring the winery and cellar, which are often hugely pristine and modern, producers in California (especially Napa) will sometimes have famous artworks, Michelin starred restaurants, nature walks, kids clubs, beautiful tasting rooms and many more activities to keep their guests entertained. They’ll also have incredible shops with all sorts of merchandise for sale alongside the wine.
Where are the best tourist spots?
It’s hard to say, as they’re all so different. Sonoma is more relaxed than Napa, yet still very impressive. Santa Barbara is considered especially beautiful and fantastic for the more serious wine drinker, especially those who love Pinot Noir, but all across the Golden State you’ll find wineries with their doors open and bottles ready for you to enjoy.
Foxglove Pinot Noir is a pretty serious wine, but one that’s very much approachable too. It’s savoury and has some tannic structure - it’s not sappy and jammy at all. It feels like a zin made with the same philosophy as one would make a Pinot or Cabernet, as opposed to using it as something cheaper and more commercial to please the masses. The fruit is dark and just ripe, there is a lot of it, but it’s organised and neat, very ordered and precise. This is a wine that impresses greatly - a wine that represents exceptional value while ticking so many of the boxes that define more ‘illustrious’ bottles. In this case, focussing on just the wine is a good thing!