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by Fred McMillin
for May 19, 2000

 

Winery of the Week

Why Fels Sells


Prologue

Adler Fels Winery  
Shotgun in hand, George Corrick approached the tresspasser on the 30-acre property overlooking the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma County.


The Rest of the Story

The "trespasser" was the new owner of the property, David Coleman, who, with wife Ayn Ryan, would soon build a fairyland winery on the site, (pictured). The nearly vertical tract was so inhospitable it had been on the market for seven years... which was the reason future-neighbor George Corrick thought Coleman must be an intruder.


A Batty Project

So wine-label-designer David Coleman paid $32,000 in 1978 for the land, first built their home, then added the winery. Slow going. They moved in before they even had a complete roof over their heads...during dinner what would sometimes fly in through the incomplete ceiling?...Bats!

Ayn says that for a while it was, "sell a case, buy a shingle." Was it worth the struggle? Let's see what Prof. John Baxevanis thinks.

    The superbly-sited Adler Fels Winery makes a spicy, full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, an agreable, well-structured Gewurztraminer and consistently well-flavored Chardonnays. All wines are reliable, well-made, and should be part of every cellar.

The Awakening

Adler Fels Chardonnays landed with a bang in my tastings eight years ago. On May 2, 1992 the regular won Best White. The very next week, on May 9th, the first-ever Reserve Chardonnay also won Best White. Since then, they've received praise from the top...Robert Parker, Jr., the Wine Spectator, and others. Hence, if you want to try a Fels, Chardonnay is a fine place to start. If you're an ABC-er (Anything But Chardonnay), then it's the Sauvignon Blanc. First produced in 1982, it has been given even more praise than the Chardonnays. The couple also have added two reds, Syrah and Sangiovese. WineDay will be reporting on them soon.


Reasonable Prices

The whites range from $11 to $16...good values for such quality. The reds are $20. The grapes come chiefly from the Russian River Valley's various microclimates.

Your contact is (707) 539-3123, FAX (707) 539-3128.


Postscript—The Name Game

On the Mayacamas Range, Mother Nature has carved in granite a profile of an eagle. In German, "adler" is "eagle" and "fels" is "rock."

Credits:
Jim Wood article, San Francisco Examiner
Prof. John Baxevanis, The Wine Regions of America

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created May 2000

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