There is a persistent rumor floating around Lake County that Fore Family Vineyards is a group of four families who make wine. Let me dissuade you from that idea immediately. Fore is actually the last name of the owners, Jim and Diane Fore, and, if you noticed, is spelled differently than the number. They, along with their son Eric, bought 100 acres of land just off Bottle Rock Road in Cobb in 2000, planted sixteen acres with several different varietals, such as Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. Then, three years ago they opened their tasting room on the corner of 2nd and Main in downtown Kelseyville and began selling their wines directly to the people of Lake County. So if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, feel free to educate them.
The first thing I noticed, even before my wife and I walked in the door, was the beautiful German Shorthair Pointer, Lyle, enjoying the winter sun in the front window. Stepping inside I noticed the warm, inviting space that looked half like a tasting room and half like an art gallery. Several of Eric’s photographs lined the wall next to Lyle, while the other wall, distressed and painted concrete held multiple pieces of original artwork. A couch sat to our right, welcoming a sit down to sit. A pleasant, inviting vibe filled the place. It feels open and spacious, the kind of place where you won’t feel intimidated or overcrowded. It’s the perfect location for live music or art events, which they regularly hold.
Diane and Eric immediately greeted us, and we seated ourselves at the wood-topped bar. As we exchanged pleasantries, Eric poured us our first taste, his long arms reaching easily over the counter.
“So, how did you get involved with wine?” I asked as I took my first sip.
“Jim started making wine at home,” Diane told me. “Then, when he retired as a submarine piping designer from Mare Island Shipyard, we decided to start growing commercially. We produce about 1,000 cases a year now.”
Lyle, warm from sunning himself in the window, stood up, stretched, and headed to the back room. Eric poured us another taste and added, “Our logo on the bottles is actually what my dad would use to sign his completed plans.”
“That must have been a fascinating job,” my wife responded.
“He had top secret clearance,” Diane replied, “But he didn’t like going in the submarines. He’s 6’4” and not built for them.”
“I think they’re designed more for short people like me,” I replied, laughing.
By now, Eric had moved on to the reds. Each one had its own unique depth, a testament to Jim and his co-winemaker Tim Dolven’s unique and significant skills. I looked around the tasting room. The concrete wall holding the artwork had the texture and color of worn leather, which complemented the western paintings that sat on it.
“This is our Mourvedre,” Eric told me as he poured a deep, opaque red into our glasses.
“That’s an unusual variety,” I replied. “How do you pronounce it again?”
“It’s a Rhone varietal. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be More-ved-ra. But I’ve heard all kinds of ways to say it, like Moo-vay-dray.”
“That’s the American way, like a cow.”
“The French have a way of easing their words,” he replied with a smile.
“Yeah,” I replied. “If it’s in French, say it nasally, like you’ve got a cold. Everything sounds prettier in French.”
Eric laughed. “We’re pretty flexible and know what you mean when you say it.” My knee bumped against the cut manzanita ends that lined the bottom of the bar. Eric and Jim had done most of the work on the tasting room, and their attention to detail showed.
I took a sip and looked at the bottle, noticing the screened label of a dog running through a vineyard. “This is wonderful wine! And the bottle is unique. Who designed it?”
“Jim took the picture,” Diane replied. She pulled out the original photograph and showed it to us. “And Eric used his photoshop wizardry to turn it into our label.” Eric smiled shyly.
I took the glass in my hand and gave it a bit more thought. The bouquet sat softly in the glass, like silk, or if satin could be a smell. Then I took a sip. It felt round on my palate, gentle with mineral flavors and an almost raspberry tartness. It ended smooth and easy on my palate. Later, when I had time to sit back and enjoy the bottle, I savored the flavors. It felt almost like a late spring day when the cool morning leads to a pleasant afternoon and evening. It doesn’t shock, stun, or overpower, but gives gently. If you’re into eating while you drink, I’d recommend it with tapas, as it won’t compete with your other flavors like a big Cab would. In that light, I’d seriously suggest not eating any stinky cheeses with it, such as Bleu or Limburger.
“This wine is special,” I said, as I finished my taste. “Thank you for sharing it with us.”
“It’s delightful,” my wife responded.
Not long after that we completed our tasting and thanked Eric and Diane. As we stood up to leave, Diane reached behind the counter and pulled out a small plastic bag.
“Would you like to use your Mourvedre bottle for olive oil?” she asked, handing my wife the bag. “It’s a pourer that fits in our bottle.”
We thanked her, and later that night after we had enjoyed the last drop of the Mourvedre, filled the bottle with some olive oil. It now sits proudly next to our stove, ready to pour at a moment’s notice, and always reminding me of the wonderful wine that it originally held.
Fore regularly has events at their tasting room. If you’re ever in downtown Kelseyville and hear live music coming through the doors, or the sound of happy people enjoying wine and art, be sure to step in and get a glass of their Mourvedre. Don’t worry how you pronounce it. It’s how it tastes that matters.
Fore Family Vineyards
3920 Main St.
Kelseyville, CA 95451