Wine and Chocolate Part 3 – Durst Winery

Ziggy and a “gangsta”
Mural art in the Barrel Room

This is the third and last entry from our Wine and Chocolate wine trek. As with the previous two, the intent of this tour was to visit tasting rooms that we had not previously visited. We were hard at it all day and only made it to 3, due to the extreme hospitality of all the operators. They were very kind to share their time, wine and expertise with us.

Durst is a fairly new operation on Acampo Road a few miles east of 99. Dan and Cassandra Durst have lived at this location for many years, patiently restoring the main “Fairbanks” house to its former glory. According to local lore, the house was used as a “speakeasy” during prohibition, including secret rooms and passageways, etc. The house fell into disrepair over the years, and was slated for demolition when the Dursts decided to purchase it. The house is beautiful and the property gorgeous. Durst holds numerous events throughout the year, making full use of the relaxiing surroundings.    In particular, their wine club has a pickup event every two months (the base wine club is two bottles of wine every two months). If you live in the area and can attend the pickup events, the wine club is a great deal. Parties and wine, what’s not to like?

Steph with Cassandra Durst

We started our tasting outdoors with the Wine and Chocolate crowd. Several tasting stations were set up. There we met Ziggy, the assistant winemaker. Ziggy is definitely a character, and he was extremely enthusiastic while pouring and talking about the wines. He took us to the cellar for some barrel samples of 2016 wines (including the Ziggy Zin), and then handed us off to Cassandra for a review of Durst’s other offerings. All in all a memorable visit.

Now for the wines….

2015 Amada Mia White $23

100% symphony. Gord says “Sweet pear on the nose, with a floral soapy note. The palate has low plus acid, some residual sugar, with a peachy slightly tutti frutti flavor. OK plus.”

Stephanie says “a floral and stone fruit nose, with a taste of Jolly Rancher candy, slightly sweet, white stone fruit in the flavor. OK plus, and good summer sipper”

2016 Sauvignon Blanc $23

Gord says “nose has hints of grass and grapefruit. Very correct nose. Palate has low to low medium acid, with rich ripe white stone fruit flavors. Good plus.”

Steph says “slight cat pee, grapefruit, grassy… A very New Zealand profile. Which I like. To me, the taste has grapefruit, lime, a grassy quality, and pineapple on the finish”

2014 Amada Mia Red $23


Blend of merlot and cab. Gord says “dark ruby color. Nose is a mix of dark cherry and dried tobacco. Really good, intriguing nose. The palate has low to low medium acid, low medium tannins, with dark cherry flavor. The flavors are fairly straightforward, with a nice texture and some olive and wood notes developing on the finish. But the palate does not live up to the nose, which was great. Overall, good.”

Steph says “aromatic spices w/cardamom and a floral note. Tasting notes reflect the floral in the nose, spices with mild tannins. The fruit was elusive to me, but my overall opinion was ok to good.”

 2014 Zinfandel $29

Gord says “dark ruby, with a slight garnet rim. Nose is spicy cinnamon and toasty, with very little discernable fruit. Palate has low medium acid, soft tannins, with a balance red berry fruit flavor. Seems dialed back but it has 14.5% alcohol. Hides it well. Good plus.”

Steph says “I get predominantly spice in the nose, with no hint of fruit. However, I did get ripe cherry/blackberry notes in the mouth, with a light in the mouth feel. I rate this wine good to more!”

2016 Ziggy Zinfandel Barrel Sample (hope to bottle in November)

From the 108 year old zinfandel vineyard at Schmidt/Bruella. Gord says “tight nose, with a hint of raisins and dark plum. Palate has low plus acid with similar tannins, beautiful ripe blackberry fruit flavor. Not sweet or cloying, just luscious. Very good plus.”

Steph says: “I would dip my toast in this” Out the gate, this wine has spice and mature cherry, and normally I would cry “red alert, red alert,” However, the mature, well-rounded blackberry/cherry fruit is balanced and not overwrought with the typical Lodi Zin ripened fruit. I say good, plus one and I will follow this wine”

Ziggy in the Barrel Room


2016 Tannat Barrel Sample

Two months in barrel so far. Gord says “dark ruby color. Nose has lovely smoked meat aromas. Palate has low to low medium acid, with similar tannins. Palate has a lovely dark cherry fruit attack. Like the zin, this barrel sample with a soft, luscious entry. Needs time to develop, but this could be outstanding. Keep an eye on this wine. Very good plus.”

So, Stephanie says: “smokey, meaty with spice on the nose and in the mouth. Cherry, lucious fruit and smooth. Likin’ very much. Good plus and will try again in 6 months if the fates allow.”


Always fun to try barrel samples