Owner and winemaker, Fred Oliai, has one of the more fascinating resumes we've seen. He was born in Iran, not exactly known for its wine. He grew up in Kentucky and earned a degree in fermentation science. We've never tasted a wine from Kentucky. He then moved to Colorado where he worked for a brewery. At least we've tasted beers from Colorado.
His career then shifted to San Francisco, where in 1997 he worked for a computer software company, but took extension courses on enology from UC Davis. It wasn't until 2009 when he purchased the Alta Vineyard that he could finally put all of his education and experience to work. The property is 91 acres, but only 12 acres are planted to vines. This dramatic hilltop vineyard was planted in 1993 to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and is now in its prime. Fred had no winery, so he sold grapes to other wineries and leased space in wineries to make wine from his vineyard.
In 2016 he purchased a 22 acre walnut farm from the heirs of a couple who had planted it in 1949. The problem was that walnut trees attract insects that feed off of a vine's roots. Fred worked with UC Davis to develop a rootstock that was resistant to these insects so that now his future winery and vineyard are in sight. This imposing selection is just what we expected. The dense garnet color signals the intense black cherry and plum aromas and flavors to follow. The finish begs for filet mignon tips in red wine or steak and kidney pie.