By Mark Jacklich
As a wine steward living in the middle of the most renowned wine regions in the world, exploring our local vineyards is a big priority for myself and other team members at Bentley’s Grill. It’s important to me that we learn as much as we can about the wines we serve: from their soil and the vines to their microclimate and the vintner’s techniques.
Once a month we set aside a Sunday to get together and visit a local winery to gain knowledge about our area and the different stages of the grapes and the wine making process.
Last month, we made a trip out to Cristom Vineyards. I was informed that this was a “Hiking Tour” which made me excited because I’m all about getting out there in the fields and getting a sense of the land in which the wine comes from.
Cristom is split into single vineyard blocks:
- The Marjorie Vineyard is the oldest and the original plantings from 1982.
- The Louise Vineyard is at its lowest elevations (300feet) and was planted on Missoula flood sediments called Helvetia, a very deep, moderately drained silt loam that formed over clay. As the Louise vineyard elevation rises towards its 445-foot peak, the soil changes to volcanic.
- The Eileen vineyard is 540-705ft in elevation so we had a bit of an up hill trek. Once we were on top of the vineyard, the views were spectacular. It really made up for the physical effort exerted.
- The Jessie Vineyard is the steepest on Cristom’s property. This was the last spot on our hike and when we got there we knew why. Jessie is on a very steep slope, we imagined during harvest having to stake yourself down, because with one slip you could end up down the hill. It is the vineyard with the greatest elevation change and most diverse soils.
After we made it down, we tasted the wine produced from the very vines we just walked through. While tasting through various vintages and single vineyards we were able to identify wines that we liked personally while the tasting room manager, Jeri, provided us with some key information that explains what makes Cristom Vineyards unique.
She mentioned they have had the same vineyard manager and winemaker for 20yrs+. I explained to our staff how this is important because having been there for those years together they get a real sense of the microclimate and growing season so they can fine tune the wine making based on the hand Mother Nature deals. This translates into top-notch wines and will for years to come!
Ask us about our local wineries, like Cristom Vineyards, next time you come in! We invite you to join us for wine tastings every second and fourth Wednesday when we feature a local winery from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Also, be sure to ask your server about our Wine Flights and “A bottle among friends” every Thursday! This is another great way to try new wines for a discounted price- comes with a complimentary appetizer!