WHAT: It’s not often that you can indulge yourself and support the environmental movement at the same time. Well, you can do that when you drink Anaba wines.
Anaba (anna-bah) was the first Northern California winery to harness wind power to run part of its business. It also makes lush, beautiful wines that are perfect for food.
Owner and founder John Sweazey fell in love with French wine and wineries and wanted to produce wines to match those from Burgundy and the Rhone region. Just seven years after releasing his first wines, he has done it.
The Anaba Turbine Red is a classic GSM blend, made of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, popular in the Rhone. It is one of my favorite blends. Most of the GSMs I’ve had are approachable, full of fresh fruit and are great with meals. Besides the Rhone, the blend has become popular in Australia, Spain, California and Washington.
In this one I smelled plenty of ripe raspberries and blueberries with notes of cherry cola, violets and black pepper. It is a medium-bodied, complex wine with flavors of plum, blueberry, pepper and a hint of smoke. It has a long finish.
The grapes came from two vineyards. Landa Vineyard in the low eastern foothills of the Mayacamas experiences warm days, protected from winds, and cool nights. Bismark Vineyard sits at an elevation high above the fog line, with cooler temperatures and intense sunlight. The combination adds complexity and structure to the finished wine.
The grapes are harvested, fermented and aged separately until blending. All were de-stemmed and cold soaked for 5-7 days. Each batch was barrel aged in French oak, an average of 33 percent new.
The blend is 42 percent grenache, 30 percent mourvedre and 28 percent syrah. The blend changes with each vintage. The 2012 vintage had more mourvedre and less syrah.
WINERY: Sweazey didn’t grow up dreaming about owning a winery, but after he left Chicago to study at Stanford, he and his college friends started to enjoy wine. On a trip to Napa Valley after a football game he tasted some memorable wine during a fraternity party, and he was hooked.
After graduating with a degree in economics, he lived in San Francisco and started a real estate finance company. During the 1970s Sweazey continued his wine research, attending numerous classes, visiting France and even making his own wine at home.
The French trips became more frequent, and he studied French production methods. He especially fell in love with Burgundy and the Rhone. Sonoma County reminded him of his experiences in France, and he realized it was the best place to grow the varietals he loved.
He says he dreamed about owning his own winery for 35 years before finally taking the plunge. In 2003, he sold his business and bought property in the western Carneros of Sonoma, where cool wines blow through the Petaluma Gap to temper the summer heat. The unique upward wind patterns are called anabatic winds, so Sweazey decided to name the winery Anaba.
Though some of the grapes come from the estate, most are sourced from some of the finest vineyards in Sonoma. The first wines were released in 2009.
The winery installed a 45-foot wind turbine to generate electricity for Anaba’s tasting room, wine storage, office operations and irrigation pumps for the two estate vineyards. It also helps power an electric car-charging station that is available to guests visiting the tasting room. A drawing of the turbine appears on the wine label.
The winery features a tasting room built in a 100-year-old farmhouse where visitors can taste inside or on a deck overlooking the vineyards. They can have a variety of tasting experiences, including educational programs, private tasting rooms and vineyard walks.
Anaba specializes in Burgundian varietals chardonnay and pinot noir as well as the Rhone blends. There is a Turbine White blend made with rousanne, grenache blanc, picpoul blanc and marsanne.
Other single varietals include viognier, grenache blanc, dry muscat, syrah, petite sirah, mourvedre, as well as late harvest and port-style wines. All are made in small batches.
GOES WITH: We had this gorgeous wine with homemade beef tacos, and it was an outstanding pairing. The fresh fruit flavors of this GSM blend played nicely off the spices of the tacos.
Often when people think about pairing great wines with food, they look to elegant, hard-to-fix meals, which is nice if you are eating at a restaurant. I prefer to pair an everyday meal with a memorable wine and make the weeknight meal that much more memorable.
This pairing was all of that and more. I love to make tacos at home, with ground beef, chicken or turkey meat. After browning the meat with the taco seasonings, it’s everyone for themselves. We set up a taco bar, so everyone can make their tacos just the way they like. I use the wide taco shells with flat bottoms that stand on their own, so we can really stuff them with lots of goodies.
My wife, Teri; my son, Michael, and I all like our tacos a little different. I set up bowls of chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, chopped lettuce, cheese and salsa. Teri and Michael often will add sour cream or avocados. We load our plates, add potato chips or corn chips, and we have a feast.
This Rhone-style blend is a great food wine, so it will pair with many things, such as most grilled meats, pulled pork sliders, ratatouille or a wide variety of cheeses.