Just across the road and down the hill from our room at Laujor’s loft lies Boatique Winery. The sign on Red Hills Road’s hard to miss; it rests between two rock pillars and glimmers in the winter sun. Several strips of hardwood have been pressed together to create a laminated frame that holds the profile of a wooden boat. Below, a dark script reads, “Boatique Winery”. We turn off the road, wind our way down the ancient olive tree-lined driveway to the brick-lined parking lot, and enter the brightly-lit tasting room. A fire glows in the large fireplace, and Francesca, Director of Hospitality, finishes pouring the last taste for a couple, who excitedly pick up a few bottles of wine to take home.
“How are you?” she greets us as the couple happily heads to the door. “I’ve got a cabana set up for you. Just give me a minute, and I’ll walk you out.” Boatique has several tasting experiences that range from a simple tasting with or without a charcuterie board to a tour and tasting. They also are a wedding venue with several locations on the property to choose from. Plus there are two vacation homes to enjoy on their vineyard properties.
“We’re in no hurry,” Trudy replies, and we spend a few minutes looking at the gifts while Francesca takes care of a small group ahead of us. Large windows behind the tasting room bar reveal the reason for the winery’s name—dozens of wooden boats, shined to brilliance, line the museum’s walls, each one begging to be appreciated.
A few minutes later, Francesca pops back into the tasting room. “Alright,” she says. “Let’s get you set up in a cabana.” She walks us out of the tasting room, past the parade of beautiful boats, and out to a large, covered patio. There, separated by stacked wine barrels, several outdoor couches rest. “You’ve got your pick today,” she says. “This one’s a bit more protected from the wind, but the one on the end has a better view.” We settle down at the end; it borders the edge of the building and looks out towards a slope of vineyards, but the truth is anywhere we sat would have had a great view. Just steps from each cabana, grapevines slope down to a large pond where a fountain bubbles and fills the air with a gentle susurrus of falling water.
All the vines have been trimmed for winter, and their brown stalks stretch upwards from the ground. In a few months, buds will begin to appear, and the denuded vineyard will turn into a wash of bright green as the young leaves stretch and spread to the heavens. But it’s still mid-winter, and everything’s asleep, waiting for the right moment to produce the grapes that create Boatique’s well-crafted estate wines.
Trudy and I lean back on the couch, a glass of wine in our hands. It’s peaceful, relaxing. For a moment, we sit there, feeling the cool January breeze against our skin and the crispness of the Rose of Malbec on our tongues. There’s nothing we need to say—we’re filled with the quietness of the location.
“This is lovely,” Trudy says, and I can’t help but agree.
A few minutes later, Francesca appears, holding a bottle of Boatique’s 2017 Petite Sirah. “Now this is our 2017,” she says, “And it’s different than our 2018. We had a cooler, wetter season, bringing out the blue notes. It’s a cooler-toned red.” She pours a taste into our glasses, and we hold it up to the light. “Do you see the wine diamonds?” She asks. I swirl the glass, and a small, clear ‘diamond’ appears against the edge. Known as tartrates, they often get mistaken for sediment. But don’t worry. They’re harmless and are a sure sign of quality wine. “They show that the wine’s been handled gently and not over-processed,” Francesca explains. She’s a wealth of knowledge.
And the Petite Sirah is definitely a high-quality wine; it’s won gold medals at both the Sunset International Wine Competition and the Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge. Filled with dark fruit notes, it starts smoothly, fills the mouth with spice and body, and leaves a long, lingering finish. Of course, the best way to handle that extended finish is to take another sip, then maybe one more. It’s a wine meant to be savored and enjoyed.
Francesca heads back to the tasting room while Trudy and I continue to savor both the wine and the atmosphere. A truck winds up one of the vineyard roads, performing maintenance as it works up the hill. The fountain continues to splash in the pond. A hawk circles overhead, eyes focused on some unseen meal below. And we take another sip of wine.
The tasting ends far too soon, but that just means we have time to explore the boat museum before heading home. It’s hard to fully explain the beauty of these wooden boats, and pictures can’t quite fully capture their smooth, warm lines. Each one demands attention: the 620, a 1939 Chris Craft, starts with a chrome plated bow that sweeps back in sharp angles to the stern. In contrast, the 1948 Western Fairliner Torpedo has just as much chrome, but a rounder, smoother shape, almost a bubble that sweeps across the gunwales. And there’s the 1959 Chris-Craft Silver Arrow, fully silver and complete with fins. Each demands attention and time.
But Trudy’s already chatting with Francesca and picking up some wine, so I pull myself away from the spectacularly beautiful Alpha Z and head back to the tasting room, where we pick up a bottle of the Petite Sirah. Then, completely satisfied, we get back in our car, wind our way back up the olive tree-lined driveway, turn on Red Hills Road, and head home.
Boatique Winery is a great place to enjoy high-quality wine and beautiful boats. To schedule a tasting, give them a call at (707) 279-2675, extension 1 or visit their website at boatiquewines.com.
8255 Red Hills Rd.
Kelseyville, California 95451