Paul & Daniela Devitt
I spend a lot of time in Amador and El Dorado county wine country. A well overlooked or stepchild to other areas such as Napa and Sonoma, in my opinion. Over the past few years there seems to be more of an interest in the foothills, with more wineries opening their cellar doors in the Shenandoah Valley and in the Fairplay areas, many of which via bay area residents and business folks looking for the good life and quasi retirement. This past weekend, with all the smoke hovering over the valley, I decided to make a fast trip to a new winery just opened six weeks ago. Sentivo Vineyards and Winery on Fairplay Road was the stop. You can’t see the winery from the road, but just about a quarter mile up the paved and gravel roads leads to the stunning new tasting facility. Paul and Daniela Devitt, along with other family members, purchased the parcel
and vineyards in 2010, and went to work on constructing a first class tasting room and social area. One of the first things you notice is the twenty foot high display of Rose bottles on the wall behind the tasting bar. Also you notice a very open facility with a wall of glass windows open to view of the vineyard and Fairplay countryside. While very modern with some very unique bar stools, there is no lack of hominess, thanks to the hospitality of Paul and Daniela. Then there’s the wine. And for a new winery they have already nailed the juice. Jonathon Pack, who also operates Gwinllan Estate just down the road, is the winemaker, and has out done himself on the wines. Not a clinker in the bunch. Actually it’s just the opposite, especially the 2012 Grenache, which is one of the finest I’ve ever tasted. The wine itself is in such short inventory due to many of the local winemakers buying cases at the initial offering. That says a lot about the wine and the comradery of this tight foothill community. Now, back to the Grenache, which I did several times on Sunday. It’s a Grenache with aromas of cherry, caramel, baking spices and toasty oak. The tannins are succulent and juicy with flavors of cherries, vanilla, and a bit of toasted almonds. It really isn’t the typical light Rhone style wine, but lends itself to a more luscious and silken body, and a finish you’ll need a watch to time. For a first year winery, they did extremely well at the competitions with this Grenache taking Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, Gold at El Dorado County Fair, Silver at the Amador County Fair and Silver at the Orange County Fair. If you visit, and like Primitivo, you’ll be in for another outstanding surprise. From what I took in on Sunday, I can say that this winery will be one for others to reckon with in the future, actually as far as I'm concerned, they already are!