In 2014, I first encountered Enriquez Estate Wines during a Sonoma wine tasting event. I discovered the winery by chance because owner/winemaker Cecilia Enriquez served Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Association wines. I happened upon Cecilia’s table because it was not crowded like others. During my discussion, at the time Cecilia mentioned that she makes a Tempranillo Rosé. Knowing I like trying something different, I became intrigued and wanted to learn more. It is not just the Tempranillo Rosé but also the Tempranillo itself; I found both were spectacular wines.
Since that day in 2014, Enriquez has come a long way with many significant changes in practices and locations, but it is the enthusiasm and passion of Cecilia that captures the spirit of her wines.
The Enriquez Family’s Wine Journey
The story of how Enriquez purchased the winery and vineyards is unique. Vacationing in Tahoe while visiting Cecelia’s brother, who happened to be very sick, the family decided to visit Napa and San Francisco. Cecelia knew nothing about wine at the time, but her father, an internist, was versed in wine.
As life takes its twists and turns, the family headed for Napa, but as destiny came into play, they went the wrong way and ended up in Sonoma. Missing that turn to Napa drove the family to visit some wineries in Sonoma. As it turned out, one of those wineries was for sale. Cecelia’s father being a little impulsive, wanted to know more. Thus a day trip to Napa became a week visit in Sonoma and Santa Rosa. By the end of the visit, they were contemplating purchasing the winery. This unexpected deviation propelled them to discover the property that became Enriquez Estate Winery. In 2011, they bought an existing winery consisting of 33 acres.
An unusual factor of their purchase agreement, they were allowed to use the grapes prior to the close of the transaction. Thus the first vintage of Enriquez Estate Wines occurred in 2009. That property had 29 acres planted with grapes at the vineyard and included one acre of Tempranillo.
Cecilia came from a family that strove to make their dreams come true through dedication and perseverance. Cecilia’s grandfather immigrated to the United States from Mexico and established a medical practice. Her father followed those footsteps and became an internist in New Jersey.
This quality was installed in Cecilia at an early age. She started her career in business and finance but soon grew bored with the path she was taking and sought to find something she truly loved and was passionate about. When Cecilia finally got the wine bug, she and her father shared a love of wine, especially Pinot Noir. She decided to pursue this interest by striving to make a hobby become her profession. Cecilia is self-taught, but you would not know by the wine she produces. I immediately sensed her love, passion, and enthusiasm for the wines she creates and what she has achieved.
At the time of their fate-driven trip to Napa, Cecilia had recently lost her job at Wells Fargo due to the recession. She thought this might be the perfect opportunity for her. Cecilia began learning about wine and putting together a business proposal for her father. As a business major, she will be the first to say it was not her best proposal, but it obviously did the job because it enticed her father to buy the property.
Enriquez Estate Winery
Enriquez Estate Wines is a boutique family-run winery located initially in the Petaluma Gap section of the Sonoma Coast. In Mexican tradition, the family is very important; therefore, the winery’s name is a tribute to Cecilia’s family heritage.
The winery’s location is known for its cool climate due to the wind, fog, and diurnal temperatures. Enriquez began with an emphasis on Pinot Noir since that is what brought Cecilia and her father together on this wine adventure. In addition to Pinot Noir, the winery also specializes in Tempranillo and Muscat. Cecilia loves experimenting with varieties usually not found in the Russian River Valley.
Producing Tempranillo was accidental. There was an existing acre of Tempranillo vines; Cecilia decided to try her luck at making wine from this varietal. The Tempranillo grape is the last to harvest, as it takes longer to ripen.
Although Cecilia loved the Petaluma Gap grapes, it was not ideal for walk-in traffic at the tasting room. In 2015 the family sold the property and bought another in the Russian River Valley on the east side. The property consists of 8.5 acres with 4.5 acres planted with Pinot Noir.
The vineyards are farmed organically, and once Cecilia started utilizing organic practices, the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies came alive.
Enriquez is now in its 10th year of producing wine and has evolved. The winery now offers brunch in the vineyards with live music.
“Brisa” White Wine 2015: This unique field blend consisting of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, and Chardonnay that co-ferments. I found a clean, crisp wine. The grapes come from Hook & Ladder, the Sauvignon Blanc, and the Chardonnay, while Winsor Oaks provided the Muscat.
Muscat 2015: The grapes come from Winsor Oaks. It is interesting to note that these Muscat grapes taste before harvest like the finished wine. The predominant aroma and flavor of this wine are apricots.
Riley’s Rosé: Riley, a shelter dog, is the vineyard mascot and one of Cecilia’s true loves. Riley got hit by a car and mounted substantial medical bills for Cecilia and her husband to save him. This fur child was a fighter, and they wanted to keep him in their lives. As a tribute to Riley, Cecilia decided to name her Rosé of Tempranillo after him. At the same time, she wanted to help others by donating 20% of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle to those charities that provide financial assistance to animal owners who are strapped for cash and cannot pay their pet’s medical bills.
Petaluma Gap Sonoma Coast Tempranillo: Created in a traditional style, this cool climate Tempranillo aged for 20 months in American oak. As a best-seller, the Tempranillo is the flagship wine of Enriquez. The wine exudes flavors of tobacco and dark fruit.
Enriquez Pinot Noir
Recently I compared both the 2012 Pinot Noir to the reserve Pinot Noir. Both were light bright. The Petaluma Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir aged ten months in 25% new French oak.
The 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir Mani’s Vintage differs because Cecilia picks the four best barrels for her reserve Pinot. This wine pays tribute to Cecilia’s grandmother, who loved frogs. Hence the frog on the label. Cecilia called her grandmother Mani; therefore, this wine is dedicated to Cecilia’s grandmother, Lydia, who passed away during the year of production of this wine.
The 2014 Wine Tasting Wine Tasting
Looking back to my encounter tasting the Enriquez wines in 2014, I sampled the following wines:
2010 Pinot Noir at the Sonoma event exhibited a light, beautifully balanced, and finished with hints of spice. It was elegantly smooth.
The 2012 Tempranillo Rosé presented a ruby red color, darker than most Rosés. On the nose, aroma exuded Maraschino cherries, raspberries, and cocoa. The Rosé featured a thicker texture than most Rosés. It brought forth flavors of cherries, cinnamon and stone fruit. The wine was refreshing with a nice sweetness on the finish.
It was the 2010 Tempranillo that enthralled me at the time. With aromas of licorice and anise, there was an earthy quality to this wine. The alcohol was on the lower side, making for a very balanced and smooth wine that displayed flavors of Bing cherry, licorice currents, and a hint of vanilla. The color of this medium-bodied wine was a red-purple.
For Cecilia Enriquez, the winery is a dream come true, allowing her passion for fine wines to shine through. Combining her Mexican heritage and her love of wine elevates that passion into, as Cecilia says, “creating wines worthy of sharing with family and friends.” You will find this true when you discover the wines of Enriquez Estate Winery.
For more information:
Enriquez Estate Wines
5960 Eastside Road, Forestville, California 95436
Email: i[email protected]
TASTING ROOM: By Appointment Only
Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.
Featured Photo: Enriquez Estate Winery vineyard view. Photo Courtesy of Pierce.