Chalk Hill Winery is a bit out of the way and I had high expectations. Unfortunately, our experience shows how much impact the person in the tasting room can have on your experience and your impressions of the winery and the wine.
Chalk Hill Winery is located in a breathtaking setting – nearly 1,500 acres surrounded by woods. The tasting room is set up on a hill with a beautiful outdoor patio. There is an Olympic-size equestrian center that is used for many events. The tasting room has a beautiful outdoor patio, spacious tasting room and a very small gift shop area.
Our tasting started off pleasant with a nice young man who began pouring a 2013 North Slope Pinot Gris. It was cool and refreshing and we were enjoying ourselves and his conversation. Then “Hannah” sashayed in and shooed him away and took over our tasting. Things went south very quickly. I wanted more information on the winery, especially interested in its history. I asked Hannah how long the winery had been there, obviously she misunderstood and said she had been there since February. I clarified and asked if I could take a few photos and she launched into a story about how someone had come in recently and still had her photo from when she worked in another tasting room. Again, I clarified, I wanted to take photos of the winery and tasting room, not of her.
We continued our tasting with a 2014 Mt Eden Pinot Noir, which is made from grapes from Santa Cruz that have been cloned onto grapes in the Russian River Valley – interesting – this is what I was looking for info on grapes, not her personal life. J
We then tried the Cabernet Sav/Carmenere, which is a gorgeous color. This is a delicious wine and even though I was put off by its $85 price, I could not resist buying a bottle to take home. As 4:30 approached, Hannah must have had a hot date because we felt practically thrown out.
Chalk Hill is lovely and the wine is very good. Having a tasting with someone like Hannah makes me appreciate all the true professionals we have met that treat their job with enthusiasm and passion.
While I enjoyed the scenery and the wine, I would call first to see who is in the tasting room pouring before I spent time with Hannah. The fee was $20 for the tasting and lasted about 15 minutes with three wines.
2013 North Slope Pinot Gris – $30 – This was very refreshing on a gorgeous sunny day.
2014 Mt Eden Pinot Noir – $60 – It was a nice wine but not my favorite of what we tasted.
Cabernet Sav/Carmenere – $85 – Delicious. Gorgeous color. Bold. Would cellar very well.
Susan’s Score – I would try the wine but skip the tasting room until they upgrade their staff.