Kim and Todd Englehardt are dedicated to Rhone varieties at their Lion Ranch vineyard in San Martin, where they have two parcels: a two-acre site at the tasting room, which is all reds, and two-and-a-half acres of mixed whites and reds at their additional five-acre parcel down the road. They started out growing Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier for whites, and Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache Noir, Mourvedre and Syrah for reds.
This expertly styled blend of 45% Picpoul Blanc, 42% Grenache Blanc and 13% Roussanne begins with a lovely floral nose that is cut by river-stone and slight pear aromas. The palate is a delicious union of crunchy white-rock flavors and texture, with hints of dried apple in the background. – Matt Kettmann
Clean lines of crisp yellow pear and daffodil meet with an alkaline minerality on the nose of this bottling of an increasing popular grape, which holds acid even in warm conditions. The palate is quite grippy, showing chalk as well as fresh citrus-spray and sliced melon flavors. – Matt Kettmann
Bucking the long tradition of Bordeaux-style wines in this valley is a growing trend of Rhône-style wines. For many years, the wineries of Santa Clara Valley have produced wines made from cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, zinfandel and other Italian varietals such as sangiovese and charbono. Without a real focus, our collective winemakers have produced a scatter-gun variety of wines—not really specializing in any one type of grape. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just different than what many up-and-coming wineries are doing now; specializing in a wine type—specifically, Rhône styles.
Wanting to impress my winery-spoiled sister visiting from Napa, we ventured over to Lion Ranch Vineyards and Winery in San Martin, where the most heavenly expression of Rhone style wine is made.
We were greeted by Kim and Todd Engelhardt, the friendly winemakers. Like many winery owners, they split the duties. Todd farms, while Kim takes care of the business end and they both make the wine.
Specializing in all Rhone varietals, their five acres comprise two vineyards. The white vineyard includes: viognier, marsanne, roussanne, grenache blanc and picpoul blanc. The red vineyard contains grenache noir, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault…
Long before computer chips took hold, fruit orchards and grapevines flourished in Silicon Valley. The region’s fertile soils earned the moniker Valley of Heart’s Delights. Even now, despite rampant high-tech growth, more than two dozen wineries are thriving just south of San Jose in the Santa Clara Valley.
San Martin is a perfect place to start exploring this South Bay wine scene on a sunny day, with three outdoor tasting rooms — including two that opened only recently — plus a picnic stop for a leisurely day among the vines.
Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery
Enter the 6-month-old Lion Ranch property…
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. The days are shortening as the sunlight angles farther to the south. There is a sense of crispness in the air.
The leaves of trees and vines are changing color, although the vibrancy is muted due to the drought. And there is feeling of relief and rest ahead after a long hot summer. Why not enjoy the fruit of the vine paired with a nip in the air as we celebrate harvest time? Let’s pause before the holidays to absorb for a moment this truly wonderful place we call home.
Did I use the word “holiday?” Oh no, the hustle and bustle that makes us hurdle over Thanksgiving is soon upon us. So instead of a brisk walk, we will amble around the tasting area of Lion Ranch and enjoy the hospitality of owners Todd and Kim Engelhardt. I introduced myself to the couple recently and asked if I could write a piece on the history of the Lion (say “Lee-On’ as if your were speaking French) family after whom their winery was named…
The Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley celebrated the one-year anniversary of the local Wine Trail on Aug. 29. Mike Sampognaro of Morgan Hill Cellars, current president of the Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley, helped to re-unveil the Wine Trail signs and perform a ribbon cutting ceremony with members of the Morgan Hill and Gilroy chambers of commerce…
…Last year’s inaugural event began at one of the area’s oldest wineries, Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. This year’s event began at Lion Ranch in San Martin, one of the newest wineries in the area, and followed a tour of other newcomers such as Stefania in Gilroy and Seeker in San Martin. The tour then concluded with a visit to Lightheart Cellars in San Martin, a neighbor to Lion Ranch.
Wine tasters could then follow the signs and taste at participating wineries as they celebrated the anniversary of the event.