“The legacy of Skinner Vineyards and its wine goes back more than a century and a half, but the story starts on a sunny summer day in 2006. Kevin and Kathy Skinner are young, outdoorsy people and were heading home to Santa Cruz from Lake Tahoe. Kathy is a teacher and has a thing for maps. On an old dog-eared road atlas, she saw something – a spot on the map called Skinners, CA in the low foothills next to a town called Rescue.
They detoured to Rescue, stopped at a small shopping center, and asked folks in stores about the name. Many people knew the history: A Scottish miner named James Skinner had done well during the Gold Rush, bought land, planted vineyards, and started a winery and distillery at that very spot.
They pointed Kevin and Kathy to ground with markers on a knoll looking over the area. The plot was a century-old cemetery called Skinner Ranch Cemetery. Kevin called his dad, Mike, sent pictures, and asked, “Are we related?” Mike had no idea, but was instantly drawn to the mystery. He contacted the Pioneer Cemetery Commission, and it turns out that they did! They sent him a family tree:
It started with James Skinner, then came his first son, James Jr. The second James also had a first son named James.
The third James named his first son Frank Edward Skinner. Mike knew that name. Frank Edward Skinner was Mike’s grandfather. The original James who settled the lush spot and planted one of California’s first commercial vineyards was Mike’s great, great, great grandfather.
“I suddenly had a big family history and a huge legacy to live up to….I was the first son of the first son of the first son of the first son of the first son of the first son!” Mike says. “I still get goosebumps when I tell the story.”
Passion doesn’t begin to describe Mike’s excitement about the history and the land. By the end of 2006, Mike and his wife, Carey, had bought property in “Skinners” and started planting their own vineyards. In 2007, they acquired more vineyards and land also in El Dorado County on a ridge top on the steep green hills around Fair Play. They began building the latest stage of the family legacy: the now acclaimed Skinner Vineyards & Winery.”
About the Winemaker: “Chris Pittenger didn’t set out to be a national class winemaker. The major leagues he dreamed about, like so many American kids, was baseball. A shoulder injury at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo and a viticulture class gave him a new love: wine.
Like so many great winemakers, he learned his trade around the world, working in Napa, Australia, New Zealand, then for renowned Sonoma wineries Marcassin and Williams Selyem, and was a rising star when Mike and Carey connected with Chris in 2007, even before the winery was built.
Chris immediately fell for their vision and for the region. “I saw these amazing vineyards at 2,500, 3,000 feet on these granite, volcanic soils, and I was just like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on up here?’” Pittenger says.
Pittenger’s Skinner Vineyards wines have won national acclaim, some of the best chefs in the country have worked with him, and, among other honors, he was named one of five Winemakers to Watch by the SF Chronicle.”
Winemaker Tasting Notes: The 2015 Mourvèdre is a delicate and pretty wine that is light on its feet. This medium bodied red offers aromatics of dried red fruits like cherry, strawberry and pomegranate, complemented with savory notes of sage, damp earth, and dried herbs. The tannins are mild and the acidity is fresh and lingering on the palate.
Blend: 99% Mourvedre / 1% Grenache
Vineyards: 25% Ambrosia Vineyard / 21% Elenridge Vineyard / 14% Von Heune Vineyard / 13% Marchini Vineyard
Alcohol Level: 13.6%
Cases Produced: 380
Winemaker Name: Chris Pittenger
Maturity: Drink Now – 2022
Pairings: beef short ribs, pork shoulder, lamb, pork sausage, and BBQ