Spring has sprung in the vineyard, when the downy-covered buds wake from their slumber, bursting forth with the promise of a new vintage, their tiny tendrils reaching for the April sun—but we can take only so much of that kind of purple prattle before we lose our steamed asparagus. Instead, let's visit another warehouse winery. Inman Family Wine's tasting room and warehouse suite is in an industrial park carved out of weedy rangeland south of Windsor. Over the fence at SRJC's police academy, blue-capped students practice barking orders, and I'm sure I heard the crackle of small arms fire in the background.
Kathleen Inman is a Napa native and one-time harvest intern who took a roundabout route back to the business. While studying in England, she met up with a Brit and the couple spent 15 years overseas; as a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, Inman maintained gardens and a love of wine (her unconscious, half-accent was confounding until I heard the backstory). Back in the States, she tackled what she calls her "industrial garden," seven-plus acres of estate grown Pinot Noir on Olivet Lane in Santa Rosa.
Tasting starts with the 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris ($25). Perfumed with white citrus blossoms and powdered sugar, the sweet-bodied wine sneaks upon the finish with a kicker of acidity that makes pairing with light cream-based entrées a must. Inman purposefully makes her 2008 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25); it's not a saignée de cuvée. Delicate and pale brick-pink, suggesting fresh split redwood and baked strawberry, it's got a sensation of light sweetness.
Much Pinot debate of late has juxtaposed dark, fruit-forward Pinot against lighter, "restrained" styles. These seemed to fall outside of the stereotypes. The 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45) has anise and cocoa, chocolate-cherry liqueur aromas, with forest notes and an even, dry finish. The 2006 Thorn Road Ranch Pinot Noir ($52), from an unusual Russian River Valley location that's above the fog line, could be accused of being un-Pinot-like; more like a Rhône Grenache, it's woodsy, with big black cherries and brambleberries. Big, but again, not heavy or sweet.
From Inman's own vineyard, the 2006 Olivet Grange Vineyard Pinot Noir ($52) has a minty herbal nose, plum-cherry with just a warm hint of barnyard, with an even, mineral finish. Describing the ironlike center palate, Inman beat me to the punch—but as concerns iron character in wine, this is the good kind.
Refreshingly, Inman says that not all wines designated "single vineyard" are necessarily distinct from one another. I think these, especially the latter two, are making for a good reason to visit this industrial outpost. Or wait a while, because the Inmans are breaking ground on a new tasting room. It will be nestled, of course, in the vineyard, down where erstwhile buds greet the morning sun, the dew glistens on lazily ripening grapes, and little birds land upon one's shoulder.
Inman Family Wines, 5793 Skylane Blvd., Ste. C, Windsor. Open for tasting Fridays and Saturdays 11am–4pm, and by appointment. 707.395.0689.