As the sun descends behind the comfort of the Siskiyou Mountains, the skyline is painted with vibrant paint strokes of reds, golds, and oranges. The rustle of tall and lush canopies will soon fade as the light breeze gives way to nightfall. The farmer closes their eyes and focuses on the soft movement of Caris Creek – slowly flowing to the nearby Applegate River. Before the sun surfaces again, the grapes will all be hand-harvested, carefully placed in bins, and loaded onto a truck. 

This is Serra Vineyards. 

The grapes are traveling 140 miles North – where they will be met by an eager crew. 

The winemaker inspects the color, shape, and quality. The color is divine, the taste is inspiring, the acidity and tannin will age beautifully. 

Capturing the Vintage

Many will ask Winemaker Leo Gabica what his winemaking style is. Those who know Leo or have asked him this question will find that he humbly smiles and says he doesn’t know. But those who try Leo’s wines or work alongside him each vintage will quickly understand that Leo is highlighting the varietal and the vintage. It takes careful planning and quick wit to be a winemaker. You will find that your plans will need to adapt at a moment’s notice – you have ferments, weather conditions, and incoming bins of fruit, all while leading a small production team. 

The 2018 vintage was something special – the weather was warm and consistent, allowing farmers complete control over the harvest. When the bins of Tempranillo arrived from Serra Vineyards in the mid-morning hours – Leo knew we needed to capture this spirit in a bottle and share it with our Barrel Select members. 

We filled three American-French hybrid barrels with this Tempranillo, and set them aside to age for 19 months. When you pull the cork, we invite you to close your eyes and picture yourself in the middle of Serra Vineyards as the summer sun disappears, but the lingering warmth stays behind. 

Celebrating the Moment

It’s not a secret that Sweet Cheeks Winery makes a variety of wines – our goal is to make a wine for every palate, season, and occasion. When we first began producing Tempranillo, the tannin structure took many by surprise. We describe this wine as the “cowboy” of our production – it meets you with the “rugged” tannins, but you quickly realize many layers and complexities are begging to be explored. There are stories to be told and adventures to be experienced, and you can only truly appreciate these moments by slowing down and savoring each sip.

Over the years, our Tempranillo has transitioned from the wine we needed to preface with notes and facts to one of our most requested wines.

Some of our favorite pairings for our Tempranillo are slow-braised short ribs, woodfired pizza, fig crostini with manchego and caramelized shallots, grilled rack of lamb, and paella. 

When we take a sip of the 2018 Serra Vineyards Tempranillo, we know it will pair seamlessly with: reading books by a crackling fire, enjoying a spread of tapas while watching your favorite classic movie, sitting below a bistro-lit dinner table surrounded by laughter from friends or family.