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Tank Garage Winery
 
March 3, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Tenacious Tempranillo

You’re getting into red wine. You’re craving something different. Something savory. Enter Tempranillo, Spain’s #1 wine grape.” - Wine Folly

Where is Tempranillo From?

Tempranillo is a red grape varietal from Spain. The name means “little early one” referencing its earlier ripening than many other Spanish red grapes. The first official mention of Tempranillo was in 1807. Although, Tempranillo is thought to have originated in the Iberian Peninsula and has been around since Phoenician settlement, over 3,000 years ago. In 2015, Tempranillo was the fourth most widely planted wine grape variety worldwide with 232,561 hectares (574,670 acres), of which 87% was in Spain where it is the most planted red grape variety.

Why we love Tempranillo

Tempranillo can be light and fresh, luxuriant and profound, or sophisticated and worthy of aging. Tempranillo grapes have moderately thin skins, creating a ruby-colored red wine. On its own, tempranillo is typically medium-bodied but it is often blended with other grapes to make a more full-bodied wine. It is found primarily in Northern and Central Spain and Portugal. Tempranillo is more neutral than it’s bigger bodied red counterparts so it is known for acting as a blending grape with Grenache and Syrah. 

All of our Tempranillo Wines

We’ve tackled Tempranillo quite a few times. From our vault, our very first wine ever released in 2014 was called Never Dream Alone, a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Zinfandel. The Tempranillo was grown on “extreme terroir” 1,600 feet up on Atlas Peak in Napa Valley. The Zin is old vine goodness from Chiles Valley. This combination produces inspiring notes of wildflowers, black cherry, butter, cinnamon, plum, peach and dried cloves.

In 2015, we created Las Californias, a blend of 67% Tempranillo and 33% Graciano. Lets face it, California doesn’t really need another Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend, so we decided to let Tempranillo play the part of Cabernet Sauvignon and provide the framework, backbone, structure and ageing ability, while the Graciano (loosely playing the part of Merlot) brings deep color and strong aromatics.

Fast forward to 2016 with the release of Jonny Oro. Tempranillo, Syrah, and Mourvedre prove to be a match made in heaven, which sometimes looks a lot like Calistoga, CA. Sweet red raspberry on the nose, with hints of tobacco and rich leather, bravely followed by a juicy palate full of red fruits, white pepper, and a little bit of brown sugar.

Lick is next on our Vault journey, released in 2017. Big, expressive Syrah from Calistoga comes together with Tempranillo and a touch of Carignane to make a wine so good you'll want to lick the glass clean. There's no doubt that Lick is one of our richest and most seductive blends to date. The notes of freshly cracked pepper combined with flavors of dark berries and silky tannins are what make this wine completely irresistible.

Last but certainly not least is The Art of Surfing, recently released in 2019. For this blend, Bertus starts with Tempranillo from Shake Ridge Ranch, a vineyard in the Sierra Foothills that straddles the ridgeline at 1,700 feet above sea level. Tempranillo is a Spanish varietal and Bertus loves its tannins and cherry flavors. To complement tempranillo’s lush tannins and cherry flavors, Bertus added a small lot of Sangiovese and Barbera, two lighter Italian varieties he feels will add additional brightness to our sun-kissed blend. One thing is for sure, Bertus got something very right with this one. Juicy aromas of cherries and cocoa make way for a smoother ride across the palate and mouth watering finish. 

DOPAMINE

The moment you’ve been waiting for. Enjoy your dose of Dopamine, a ferocious 2019 Sierra Foothills red that packs a punch with 61% Tempranillo, 26% Graciano and 13% Syrah. We asked our winemaking team to go for bold and bold they went. The Tempranillo and Graciano clusters were de-stemmed and spent about 20 days on the skins prior to finding their homes in neutral oak for 15 months. We employed extended maceration during fermentation  And, because we’re cool like that, we blended in a small percentage of foot-stomped and whole-cluster fermented Syrah that adds a faint whisper of smoke and bold bramble-berry characteristics. The Tempranillo in Dopamine went through two delestages during early peak active fermentation. So how does it work? First, separate the juice from the solids by racking, where the wine is drained off the fermentation bin into a clean tank. Then take some of the seeds/stems out and gently pump the juice back onto the solids. Warmer temperatures are better for extracting tannin so this process softens the tannins and helps to create a juicier wine.

Introduction to Tank

Welcome to Tank. A home away from home where you never dream alone. At Tank, we’ve set out to do something different. We specialize in the art of the blend and we only release limited one-offs so we never put out the same thing twice. Our winery is set in a 1930s gas station turned tasting room aka your next favorite place to hang. Tank started out as a dream to make wines with soul and purpose. No business plan, no exit strategy, just a mission to do cool shit. We source fruit from California’s most sought after vineyards (and some obscure ones, too) to make the most unique wines you’ve ever experienced. Come on by and hang with the Tank crew while we pour you through limited release wines! If you’re reading this, thank you for being a part of this crazy ride.

 

Time Posted: Mar 3, 2021 at 11:00 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
February 22, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

The Beaujy Backstory to Gamay

On the hunt for an inexpensive alternative to Pinot Noir? Then let’s get beaujy. 

What is Gamay?

Gamay is a light-bodied grape originally thought to have first appeared in the village of Gamay, south of Beaune, France, in the 1360s. It most likely arrived from Germany with unenthusiastic welcome; the dukes of Burgundy even tried to outlaw its presence as they were unenthused by its unfamiliarity. It is a cousin of Pinot Noir and today grows primarily next to Burgundy in Beaujolais, France. It has become increasingly popular in France, Canada, Switzerland, Oregon, and New Zealand. DNA analysis shows that Gamay is actually a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. Gamay is easy drinkin’ and typically has lively acidity and low tannin. Gamay offers fruit-driven, candied characteristics with notable flavors of black currant, raspberry, banana, potting soil, and violets. If you find that you’re into Gamay and Pinot Noir, also give Grenache and Barbera a try. You won’t be disappointed. 

Background of Beaujloais wine region

You simply can’t mention Gamay without talking about Beajolais, France, where 75% of the world’s Gamay is produced. It is located immediately south of Burgundy in eastern France. There are three major classifications to the wines produced in Beaujolais. Beaujolais or Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages (slightly less tart, intense fruit, earthy, banana), and Beaujolais Cru (bold, complex, dark fruit, violets). The region's highest-quality wines are those of the ten Beaujolais 'crus' – ten vineyard areas long recognized as the finest in the area. The Gamay grape used to produce these distinctive wines is an early ripening, acidic variety. For this reason, carbonic maceration has become the accepted method for making most red Beaujolais wines. Whole clusters of grapes are sealed into fermentation tanks and pumped with carbon dioxide. Without any oxygen, fermentation begins inside the individual berries and the grapes end up crushing themselves from the weight of the alcohol produced during said fermentation.

What is a Beaujolais Nouvau wine?

As far back as the 1800s, it is French tradition for Beaujolais growers to gather and celebrate the end of the harvest by toasting the vintage with some of the young wine produced that year. Beaujolais Nouveau is a separate category outside of the regional classification system. Beaujolais Nouveau is released to the public annually on the third Thursday of November, just a few weeks after Gamay grapes are harvested. It’s not a wine to be cellared or saved and is instead best enjoyed while its vibrant red fruit character and high acidity are fresh. By law, all grapes in the region must be harvested by hand. 

How is Gamay different from Napa Gamay?

A more obscure French varietal, Valdiguié, was misrepresented in California as “Napa Gamay” for decades. This mistake wasn’t corrected until 1980, when the ampelographer Pierre Galet identified it as Valdiguié. Californians continued to bottle Valdiguié as “Gamay Beaujolais” until 2009. So it’s not uncalled for that a Gamay lover might have a bone to pick with Valdiguié.

Tank's first Gamay, Little Secrets

Like passed love notes during spring bloom, our very first Gamay is full of Little Secrets, not meant to be unveiled. But we’ll make an exception with this bottle. Because we’re talking about carbonic macerated Gamay, Beaujolais Nouveau style. It takes approximately 5-15 days for carbonic maceration to complete and our Little Secrets spent 7 days carbonically macerating. You heard that right. On the nose, experience rose petals, dried cherries, and Hawaiian Fruit Punch. On the palate, this wine is fresh as hell with notes of herbaceous membrillo, blood orange, juicy peach, and Hubba Bubba bubblegum. With bright acidity and a satin texture, this wine will enamor you. 

Gamay is hard to find, but that didn’t stop us. And after several years of searching, we finally landed at the Barsotti vineyard sitting pretty at 2,800 ft above Placerville in the El Dorado appellation of the Sierra Foothills. The grapevines were planted in 2005 by badass local stonefruit grower, Ron Mansfield for Bay Area winemaker, Steve Edmunds. Together, Steve and Ron envisioned growing the first true Gamay Noir in California in the decomposed granite soils of Barsotti. Days are warm and dazzling with cool and crisp evenings that ensure the fruit ripens slowly while preserving freshness. There's something about the combination of Gamay and Granite that creates a wine with a huge personality.

Introduction to Tank

When we opened Tank Garage Winery in 2014, we didn’t know if it would turn into Napa’s coolest winery, or work at all for that matter. In fact, for a while, it seemed like it wouldn’t. Napa Valley just didn’t seem ready for an old garage pumping out eclectic wine blends and vintage vibes. The people that drove by looked confused and if they ever stopped, it was to try and get gas. Nobody seemed to get it. But then, we found you. If you are reading this, thank you for sharing our dream. Thanks for helping us build Napa’s most fun wine tasting experience. Thanks for supporting us when the odds are stacked against us. We’ll keep pushing boundaries in winemaking. We’ll keep doing cool shit. And we promise to keep rockin’ and rollin’.

Time Posted: Feb 22, 2021 at 2:45 PM
Tank Garage Winery
 
February 17, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

History of Calistoga

History of Calistoga

Calistoga, California is situated at the northernmost tip of Napa Valley in California’s Wine Country. It is Northeast from Santa Rosa and south from Clearlake. On this end of the valley, living is easier. It’s small and quaint and the roads are quieter. The 5,000 folks who live here retain the town’s rustic charm. Wineries here are farther and fewer between. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city occupies a total of 2.6 miles. Calistoga is the perfect segue from Napa Valley Wine Country to Sonoma County Wine Country. With Calistoga being such a small town, walking and bicycling are the best ways to get around. Calistoga is the closest Napa Valley town to Knights Valley and Healdsburg.

History of Calistoga

Napa Valley was once the home of many indigenous people. The Wappo lived in Calistoga during the Spanish colonial era of the 1700s. In this era, Napa Valley was controlled by the Mission San Francisco de Solano in what is now called Sonoma. After mission properties were disposed of by the Mexican government following their Independence, Napa Valley was divided into Ranchos in the 1830s and 1840s. At the same time, the first American settlers began to arrive. Samuel Brannan was the leader of a settlement expedition landing in what is now San Francisco in 1846. Brannan purchased 2,000 acres in 1885 to develop a spa that reminded him of Saratoga, New York. When the railroad completed construction in 1868, Calistoga became a destination and a proponent of transportation.

Where did Calistoga get its name from?

The town’s name is derived from Brannan’s tipsy mistake of wanting to call it the Saratoga of California, which instead came out as the “Calistoga of Sarafornia.” 

Calistoga differences vs. St. Helena, Yountville, and Napa

Calistoga and St. Helena are both lovely towns only about 15 minutes away from each other. As you move further south, you’ll hit Yountville and then Napa. All three cities have their own charm. Compared to St. Helena, Calistoga is more picturesque with mountain and vineyard views surrounding the town from all angles. The largest distinguishing factor of Calstoga versus its neighboring towns is the geothermal hot springs. To get a nice soak in, Indian Springs Resort is highly popular for its spa services, including mud baths. St. Helena has been referred to as the Beverly Hills of Napa, featuring the most exclusive shopping. Yountville is very folksy and has more Michelin star restuarants per capita than any other US city. Hit all three cities to experience the best of what Napa Valley has to offer. 

 

Fun things to do in Calistoga

Calistoga is home to countless wineries, restaurants, hotels, boutique shops, and spas. Calistoga is the perfect place for hiking, biking, golf, swimming, horseback riding, or simply strolling the downtown strip. Calistoga is a haven for geothermal activity and many of the spas use the area’s natural mineral hot springs. It’s also known for the Old Faithful Geyser of California. Back in the day, The National Geographic Society declared the Old Faithful Geyser of California one of three “faithful” geysers in the world because of its regular eruptions. The geyser is known to be a good predictor of earthquakes; if the eruption is delayed or lessened, it’s pretty likely an earthquake will occur in the following few weeks in the 500 miles surronding the geyser. Millions of years ago, a nearby volcano erupted and lava buried the surrounding trees, essentially fossilizing them in the Petrified Forest, located on Petrified Forest Rd. 

Featured Wines

Retired

We’ve used famed Calistoga fruit in several of Tank bottles. Most recently, we used 69% of Petite Sirah from Kalin Vineyard in Calistoga in our retired Bring Black Roses. Exposed to sinisterly hot summer days, and chilly nights, this stuff concentrates deep, dense flavor and color. To round out the blend, we turned to our old friend with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Temple Ranch to add a bit of lush opulence, and lastly, 14% Zinfandel for some spice. Together these forces deliver a wine that’s oozing with black fruit character. The dark ruby color is sexy, but the black cherry and rose petal aromas really make this wine seductive. On the palate, we get these silky smooth, round flavor reminiscent of blackberry cobbler plus raspberry, huckleberry, and some cocoa for good measure. Really, though, this wine rules.

We also used Calistoga fruit in our uniquely blended 50% Syrah and 50% Skin-Fermented Viognier to create one of the most exceptional examples of winemaking to ever come out of our garage. We began with Syrah from one of the best sources in our state, Calistoga’s own Frediani Vineyard. This fabled vineyard is home to some of Napa Valley’s oldest vines, which thrive under the hot Calistoga summer days, producing fruit with opulent black fruit flavor and pepper spice. The first thing you’ll notice once you pour Reborn is the pronounced tropical aroma overflowing from the glass. Trust us, you’ve never smelled a red wine like this before. Once you take a sip, the Syrah’s lush blackberry and blueberry flavors intermix with apricot, peach, and vibrant acidity from the Viognier. The tension between these two grapes create something that’s almost indescribably delicious, like a floral cherry cola with tanning, structure, and pepper spice. Bertus’s gambit paid off once again.

Introduction to Tank

Welcome to Tank. A home away from home where you never dream alone. At Tank, we’ve set out to do something different. We specialize in the art of the blend and we only release limited one-offs so we never put out the same thing twice. Our winery is set in a 1930s gas station turned tasting room aka your next favorite place to hang. Tank started out as a dream to make wines with soul and purpose. No business plan, no exit strategy, just a mission to do cool shit. We source fruit from California’s most sought after vineyards (and some obscure ones, too) to make the most unique wines you’ve ever experienced. Come on by and hang with the Tank crew while we pour you through limited release wines! If you’re reading this, thank you for being a part of this crazy ride.

 

Time Posted: Feb 17, 2021 at 11:00 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
February 3, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

A Little Mendocino AVA Spotlight

History

The Mendocino AVA is an American Viticulture Area in Mendocino County, CA that is foggy, cool, and covered in redwood forests. Winemaking has a lengthy history in Mendocino with 108 local wineries still producing. During Prohibition, nearly all wineries were eradicated and replaced with fruit and tree nut orchards, but some remains of those deserted wineries still exist. Today, Mendocino is well-known for dominating the green wine movement, with ¼ of grapes in the region grown and farmed organically. This AVA is known for its Mediterranean climate, growing grapes like Carignan, Charbono, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel. A plethora of wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties purchase Mendocino grapes to blend into their wines. There are over 550 vineyards and over 50 wineries in the region.

Climate

Mendocino AVA is one of the northernmost wine regions in California with two very different climate zones separated by the Mendocino Range. Mendocino County has 10 diverse appellations within it and almost a quarter of the region's wine grapes are organically grown. The ridges are above and surrounded by coastal fog, coining the name “Islands in the Sky.” The vineyard soils of Mendocino are mostly deep alluvial. Close to the Russian and Navarro Rivers, the soil is more of a gravelly-loam and thin scree. North of Ukiah, vines are often planted with an eastward orientation, and further south, vines are planted with a westward orientation to prevent heat stress. To the west, the Pacific fog drifts in, blanketing the valley with thick, cool fog, dominating the climate in Anderson Valley. With so much moisture, rain can sometimes be an issue. The climate season in Mendocino county stimulates a shorter grower season of approximately 268 days compared to the average 308 days in Sonoma.  

Sub-AVAs

In the cooler region, you will find the appellations of Mendocino, Mendocino Ridge, Anderson Valley, and Yorkville Highlands. In the warmer region, you will find Redwood Valley, Potter Valley, Cole Ranch, McDowell Valley, Covelo, and Dos Rios. Anderson Valley opens to the Pacific, producing cool climate wines like Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines.  Cole Ranch, the smallest AVA, is known for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. McDowell Valley cultivates Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and  Zinfandel. Ukiah Valley is known for its warm to hot climate and grows Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel. Mendocino Ridge boasts vineyards about 1200 ft and primarily produces Zinfandel. 

Featured Wines

Current

Our 100% Chenin Blanc, Bohdi, comes from the Enlightenment Vineyard in Ukiah. Originally planted as Valdiguié, the now 85-year-old vines were grafted in 1980 to produce Chenin Blanc. Farmed naturally and organically, we picked and whole-cluster-pressed our Chenin Blanc using native yeast fermentation in a barrel with a partial natural malolactic fermentation to create a wine that’s both fresh and creamy. 

We head back to Fox Hill Vineyard in Mendocino County for another riff on Cal-Ital wines for our 2019 Money Honey, which is 65% Sangiovese, 25% Primitivo, 8% Negroamaro, 2% Dolcetto. This 60-acre vineyard, just north of Hopland, sits on the upper Russian River between 700 and 1,400 feet in elevation. The vineyard's gravelly loam soils blossom amazingly high-quality, complex fruit, despite low yields. Owners Lowell and Barbara Stone have their entire property planted with these incredible Italian varietals and we just keep coming back for more.

Retired

Our winemaker, Bertus, scored us fruit from the mother-f'ing Shake Ridge Ranch for Cool Confusion, a retired wine blended with 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier. Yes, the world-famous Amador County vineyard owned by legendary viticulturist Ann Kraemer. If you aren't familiar, read up, this is mythical territory when it comes to terroir. Situated 1,800 feet above sea level, the cool air from the Sierras makes for a long growing season, helping fruit retain fresh acidity and texture. To make a wine from such sacred vines is an absolute honor.

Introduction to Tank

Hey there! Welcome to Tank Garage Winery, the coolest winery in Napa Valley. No... really. Visiting the tasting room is like taking a trip back in time to a 1920s gas station turned speakeasy, pouring rad as shit wines and playing bomb as hell music. Cool California vibes mixed with vintage decor bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you’ll get at a winery. We think tasting wine should be easy, chill, and accessible for everyone and that’s the experience we’ve created at Tank. No judgment. No pressure. No frills. Everything we do is with our heart and soul.

 

Time Posted: Feb 3, 2021 at 11:46 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 29, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

The Wine Pairing You Need For Mardis Gras πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’›

Gumbo

With Mardis Gras on the horizon, we thought it was high time for a little Cajun flare. Angels With Dirty Faces was a knockout pairing for this classic Cajun stew. The liveliness from the Sauvignon Blanc and the texture from the skin-fermented Viognier match perfectly with the bold flavors and spice from the Gumbo. We think you'll agree this is a recipe worth repeating. πŸ˜‰

Score $10 off your next 3+ bottle order with code: INTHEKITCHEN at checkout through February 7th. Happy cooking and talk to you soon!

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Makes approximately 1 gallon

Gumbo Ingredients:
Oil, as needed
1.5 lbs Andouille Sausage, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 medium Yellow Onions, small dice
6 ribs Celery, small dice
2 ea Green Pepper, small dice
1 head Garlic, minced
1 cup dark brown ​Roux
​1 ea Whole Chicken, shredded
4 qts Chicken Stock
Bay Leaf
Thyme Sprig
Cajun Spice Blend, to taste
Salt, to taste
Filé Gumbo Powder (optional)

For the Chicken Stock:
1 Whole Chicken
1 Onion, halved
2 ribs Celery, roughly chopped
1 ea bay leaf
1 tsp Peppercorns, whole

For the Roux:
1 cup Bacon Grease (can substitute butter or oil)
1 cup Flour

For the Cajun Spice Blend
equal parts:
Salt
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper
White Pepper
Thyme
Oregano
Smoked paprika
Note: This spice blend is great on everything and can be stored in an air-tight container for up to one year. 

Method

For the Chicken Stock (can be made 1-2 days ahead of time):
Step One - Place whole chicken, onion, celery, bay leaf and spices in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer for 1-2 hours. 

Step Two - Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Strain stock and reserve for future use. 

Step Three - Once the chicken has cooled, remove the meat from the bones and shred. Set aside for future use. 

For the Roux (can be made ahead of time):
Step One - Melt bacon grease in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed pan and whisk in flour to combine fully. The mixture should resemble wet sand. (Note: while you can absolutely substitute butter or oil, there is nothing that compares to the flavor the bacon drippings add to this stew. Save your bacon drippings for future use when you're whipping up breakfast on the weekends. You'll thank me later.)

Step Two - Over medium heat, use a high-temp spatula to stir your roux constantly until it resembles a deep chestnut or chocolate brown color. This will take approximately one hour. Pay close attention at all times, as a roux can burn very quickly. Alternatively, the roux can be cooked in a 350º oven by combining fat + flour in an oven-proof vessel for 4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the desired color is reached.

Step Three – Once the desired color is achieved, remove the roux from the pan immediately, as it will darken further as it cools. 

For the Gumbo
Step One - Add 1-2 tbs of oil to a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to ripple, add Andouille sausage and cook until browned, approximately 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pan and set it aside for future use.

Step Two - Add onion, celery, green pepper and 2-3 Tbs of the Cajun spice blend to the pot and sweat over medium heat until onions are fully translucent and the remaining vegetables are tender. Be sure to use a spatula to scrape off any stuck-on bits from the sausage! Add garlic and stir until fragrant, approximately 2 more minutes. 

Step Three - Add roux and chicken stock to the pot and stir to combine, making sure there are no lumps of roux remaining. Season to taste and add the thyme and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil and lower heat to simmer for one hour, skimming any fat as it accumulates. 

Step Four - Add shredded chicken and sausage to the pot and stir to combine. Simmer for an additional hour. Season to taste. 

Step Five - Remove the Gumbo from heat and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.  Season to taste and serve over warm rice with a side of your favorite cornbread. Top with an optional sprinkle of filé gumbo powder and chopped green onions!

Note: Gumbo is one of the most customizable dishes you can make! Swap out proteins depending on what you have on hand. This stew can be made as thick or thin as you like it and spiced according to the amount of heat your palate can handle. This is a great dish to make ahead of time and the flavor will continue to develop. Store for one week in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Recipe by Grace Coyne

Time Posted: Jan 29, 2021 at 12:00 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 27, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

The Sierra Foothills...

History

Nothing pairs better with a glass of wine than the stunning landscape of the Sierra Foothills. The Sierra Foothills AVA is an American Viticulture Area located in (you guessed it) the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range and was established in 1987. Wine grapes were first planted in the foothills during the California Gold Rush in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Foothills have been known as “Gold Country'' since the mid-1800s when folks from all over came to seek the motherlode.  Once the gold ran out and Prohibition hit, wine disappeared until the 1970s when it was rediscovered by winemakers from Napa and Sonoma. The AVA is approximately 2.6 million acres and encompasses 12 counties and well over 100 wineries. The foothills are one of the oldest wine regions in California and houses six AVA’s and includes Amador County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County, Mariposa County, Nevada County, Placer County, Tuolumne County, and part of Yuba County. If you’re looking for beautiful vineyard lodging, wine produced from organic grapes, and food to complement it, you’ll find it in the Sierra Foothills. 

Climate

Foreign settlers searching for gold recognized the familiar Mediterranean climate of the Sierra Foothills and planted vineyards and olive trees. Today, vineyards are situated between 1,500 and 3,000 feet. This level of elevation sees all four seasons but generally hosts warm days and cool nights. The climate here is ideal for growing varietals like Zinfandel, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc that can prevail through many temperatures. Around 2,000 feet, the soil is mostly decomposed granite that’s been eroded from the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Around 3,000 feet, the soil is primarily finely crushed volcanic rock, dredged up over ten million years ago in Lake Tahoe. Both the granite and volcanic rock have good drainage but little nutrients, forcing the roots to search deep in the soil for food and water. 

Sub-AVAS

There are six sub-AVAs in the Sierra Foothills: California Shenandoah Valley AVA, El Dorado AVA, Fair Play AVA, Fiddletown AVA, and North Yuba AVA. The Shenandoah Valley AVA includes portions of Amador and El Dorado County and became an AVA in 1983. Also established in 1983, the El Dorado AVA is known for growing Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Thirty-two wineries live in the Fair Play AVA and it is the California AVA with the second-highest average elevation. About 20% of the wine produced in Amador County comes from the Fiddletown AVA. Renaissance Vineyard and Winery is the largest producer in the North Yuba AVA with 44 acres of vineyards planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, and Roussanne.

Featured Wines

Current

At Tank, we source fruit from the foothills often. Returning to the Sierra de Montserrat Vineyard, we used Graciano for Marlenas from Reseda. We love the punchy cherry elements of this variety, so we ollie-stomped the fruit before allowing whole-cluster fermentation to do its thing. We gave the same treatment to the Syrah, which we scored from the fabled Snows Crossing Vineyard. Lastly, because we’re addicted to it, we cut in some Viognier, a white grape variety, that adds acidity to help the red juices become the best version of themselves.

Influenced by Beaujolais nouveau-style wines, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a 2019 vintage red wine from the Sierra Foothills, spending just three months in barrel and bottled with minimal filtration to preserve the bright, fresh characteristics. Because of this, there will be sediment inside each bottle from the winemaking process that tells you it is legit. At the core of this lighter-bodied red wine is 60% Pinot Noir, supported by 26% Cinsault, 13% Valdigué, and 1% Mourvèdre. This is our first time working with Valdiguié, which was once fairly popular in California and referred to as "Napa Gamay" until 1980 when genetic testing proved it wasn't.

Introduction to Tank

Hey there! Welcome to Tank Garage Winery, the coolest winery in Napa Valley. No... really. Visiting the tasting room is like taking a trip back in time to a 1920s gas station turned speakeasy, pouring rad as shit wines and playing bomb as hell music. Cool California vibes mixed with vintage decor bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you’ll get at a winery. We think tasting wine should be easy, chill, and accessible for everyone and that’s the experience we’ve created at Tank. No judgment. No pressure. No frills. Everything we do is with our heart and soul.

 

Time Posted: Jan 27, 2021 at 11:45 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 20, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Becoming a MADE Member...

There are so many chateaus and castles in the valley, but there’s only one gas station tasting room and it’s sittin’ pretty in Calistoga, California. Cool California vibes, vintage decor, and unusual blends bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you will get at a winery. If you’re looking for something a little different to enjoy and share with friends and family, then you know we’ve got the coolest wine club in Napa Valley. 
The benefits of membership are endless. To start, there is absolutely no cost to join. Our unique wine club gives you a number of perks: 10-20% off wines and merch, 2-6 free tastings every time you come into the garage, discrete access to our members only speakeasy lounge, and tickets to our garage sale parties we host a few times a year. You will also receive a free shirt or hat upon sign up! 
We release wines 5 times a year in February, April, July, October, and December and members may skip up to two consecutive releases. With tons of flexibility, our members have the option to fully customize their shipments prior to billing to ensure they get the wines they really want. 
One of the most unique parts of our wine club is access to our hidden speakeasy lounge in the back of the garage. The back room alone took a whole year to renovate. Through the curtain, you’ll find a gaudy chandelier and lounge seating with gothic velour wallpaper. Old photos of Napa during the 1920s line the walls in ornate gold frames. It’s a different kind of vibe back there. Secret, sultry, and just for you.

Come on down! A few times a year we throw a garage sale party (timed around the club release) where we open the garage door, park a food truck, and pour unlimited wines. While rocking out to some sick jams, feel free to roam and use our giant cornhole boards and giant Jenga or try to nab the high score on the lot of old pinballs machines stationed inside. Our parties are legendary (we may or may not have had the cops shut it down in the past). 

We’re always pumping out rad new wines so as a wine club member, you will always get to try something different. You will never get the same thing twice since every bottle is a one-off and we have handpicked them just for you. In addition to red wine, white wine, and rose, we also dabble in the dazzling worlds of orange wine, sparkling pet nats, natural wine, carbonically macerated wines, and so on. We collaborate with tattoo artists, digital artists, and photographers to create some of the most eccentric labels you’ve seen on a bottle. So if you’re adventurous and love trying new things, we’re the winery for you. 
If you’re game, join the club and get to know our wines, the vineyards we source our fruit from, and the rad folks who bring them to you. It’s one you won’t forget.

Time Posted: Jan 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 20, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

What it Was Like to Be a Winery During 2020

The Best Winery in Calistoga

When tasting in Napa Valley, we know you’re looking for the most fun winery experience. We got you. For approximately an hour, we will pour you through four unique, limited release wines, delving into stories behind our one of a kind labels and the history behind our treasured spot. We pay attention to the little things: the tables are made of old wine barrels and the garage is decked out with Indian motorcycle memorabilia, a custom-made surfboard, and an Evil Knievel pinball machine.  Feel free to wander the garage, play a few rounds of pinball, check out our specially curated merch room, or just hang with our staff. We think tasting wine should be easy, chill, and accessible for everyone and that’s the experience we’ve created at Tank. No judgment. No pressure. No frills. Everything we do is with our heart and soul.

Our Winery Shut-Down Story

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic bringing all of our lives to a seemingly forced halt, life in the vineyards of wine country continues on. The biggest change has been the silence; there’s a new lack of hustle and bustle from the cars lining up highway 12 up and down the valley. Back in July of 2020, Governor Newsom issued an order mandating that wine tastings must cease in 19 counties. For a small, family-owned winery, the news was tough but we know it was the right thing to do. In December of 2020, a regional stay at home order has forced closure again for over 3 weeks. For wineries all over, it seems a pivot to online experiences is in order. You can shut us down, but we’ll keep trudging on and find new ways to adapt.

Our Commitment to Health & Safety

We are implementing important measures to assure the safety of our employees and our guests. We have enlisted in tasting room precautions to ensure an experience enjoyable for everyone. When the tasting room is open, all Tank Garage Winery staff will be screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19, including temperature screenings. Employees will not be allowed to work when they exhibit any such symptoms. All Tank Garage Winery staff will wear personal face coverings. Guests must also wear face coverings at all times, with the exception of when wine has been served to them for their experience. Hand sanitizer will be available at multiple locations around our property. Guests are asked to wash or sanitize their hands upon arrival, and to follow good hygiene practices at all times.

Wine Tastings During a Pandemic

To make sure we are able to provide a safe wine tasting experience, we have followed all of the safety guidelines recommended by the state. While we were open, service took place outdoors and indoors with parties not exceeding 6 guests at a time. We limited the number of parties on property at any time, and all tables were stationed at least 6 feet apart. Guests must also comply with our social distancing requirements, and be mindful of maintaining distance from other visitors and our employees at any time they are away from their tasting experience area. Tastings during a pandemic may be limited, but guests are able to enjoy a more personalized, one on one experience with their host. We are truly thankful for the times we are able to be open during COVID-19.

Calistoga Wildfires

When we first read the forecast for dry lightning, we didn’t know what to expect. To our dismay, dry lightning amped up our fire season like nothing we’ve ever seen. But the resiliency of Calistoga is astonishing. In 2020, fires roared out of control in California, destroying much of wine country and displacing thousands of people. In just a few days, the Glass fire erupted in size and destroyed upwards of 80 homes and wineries. All wineries were affected by the Calistoga wildfire in a city highly reliant on tourism. At Tank, we mourn the loss of the wineries who were destroyed in the fires and were terrified when the fires only reached a mile from our little garage. The recovery efforts will take time and we are so thankful for those who have supported us through this year of unpredictable disruption.

Virtual Wine Tastings

As part of this year’s adaptation, we are stoked to be able to provide a way to enjoy our wines from anywhere. We're making it easier than ever to gather with friends and family with our insanely cool virtual wine experiences. Bring the Tank Garage Winery experience to your home. In this one-hour private Virtual Tasting, a member of our team will taste you through 3-4 wines over Zoom. You'll learn about our unique varieties, vineyards, winemaking methods, and worst break-up stories. A wine experience on Zoom may sound intimidating, but our staff makes it super comfortable and fun. We’ve even incorporated wine trivia into our tasting experience to further engage with our favorite folks and so y’all have a shot at winning some prizes. Happy tasting!

Our Cool Tasting Room Staff

Our crew has been working tirelessly through the pandemic and we’re so grateful to have them on our team. Help keep our crazy band of misfits doin’ what they do best and give us a call down at the tasting room. Our goal is to create a memorable experience you won’t forget so we found the finest in the business. When you walk through the front door, it is like walking into a friend’s house. We have the raddest crew around with Heath rockin' the stereo, Jacey singin’ a tune, Conary flexing his camo, and Aaron dropping some hot somm knowledge. From club member, Steph H: “Every experience I've had with a team member there has been fun, educational, and genuine. Almost like hanging out with friends!”

About Tank Garage Winery

Hey there! Welcome to Tank Garage Winery, the coolest winery in Napa Valley. No... really. Visiting the tasting room is like taking a trip back in time to a 1920s gas station turned speakeasy, pouring rad as shit wines and playing bomb as hell music. Cool California vibes mixed with vintage decor bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you’ll get at a winery. Every day, we celebrate this crazy dream turned into a movement where we get to do cool shit and you get to come along for the ride. We celebrate the adventurers, the dreamers, the weirdos, the free spirits, and the misfits. So next time you’re in town, you won’t want to miss out. Come by our little garage and celebrate with us.

Time Posted: Jan 20, 2021 at 9:00 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 13, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Let's Talk Vineyards!

Let’s talk vineyards! Ann Kraemer is known for her meticulous creation of Shake Ridge Ranch in Sutter Creek, California. She spent 25 years in vineyard management and development in Napa Valley, Oregon, and Chile and longed for a place of her own to work on. From a longtime farming family, she bought the property with her father in 2001. Of 8 siblings she was the only one to stay in agriculture. 

Shake Ridge is surprisingly young for how well known its fruit is, having been cultivated in 2001 and only begun yielding in 2005. Shake Ridge has reached a level of fame unmatched by vineyards in the same location that has been around for generations. With Kraemer’s love for puzzles, she considers this venture the ultimate puzzle; the vineyard is divided into tidy blocks of vines pieced as snugly together as a jigsaw. 

Shake Ridge Ranch straddles the Sierra Foothills 1800 ft above sea level, featuring approximately 42 acres of wine grapes in several blocks, each boasting unique soil characteristics, microclimates, and slope. The overall soil at the vineyard consists of well-drained loam with quartz, shale, soapstone, and a touch of granite. Before planting, Kraemer dug up six-foot deep pits around various locations to analyze the soil and determine which grapes would be best planted where. For example, Barbera craves heat so those vines are orientated on west-facing slopes. Petite Sirah was planted at the base of the vineyard, where the soil is more fertile and the climate is cooler. Shake Ridge is farmed organically, even though they aren’t certified, using organic fertilizer and composting to promote natural movement, cover crops for soil erosion control, and using natural predators to attack pests. The calling of the vineyard is for as minimal intervention as possible while maintaining the strongest, healthiest plants. 

The rad thing about Shake Ridge wine is that 80% of Kraemer’s famous fruit is sold while 20% is kept for her label. “I’m giving them really good ingredients like you see on those cooking shows everyone watches, like ‘Iron Chef,’” Kraemer says. “The contestants are given the same ingredients and they make completely different meals with those same ingredients. That’s what I think is so cool.” Kraemer takes her relationship with grape customers to the next level. She is well-respected for her attention to detail and works closely with winemakers to give them the best possible grapes for their desired style of wine. She also hosts an event, “The Shades of Shake Ridge,” where winemakers are invited to meet and share their wines made with Kraemer’s fruit. 

Our most recent wine from Shake Ridge is called Middle Finger and sold out of 325 cases in just one day. Middle Finger is a blend of 95% Barbera, 3% Primitivo, and 2% Graciano. It is a shimmery shade of garnet in color, with aromas of herbal cherry, violets in bloom, and maraschino cherry. In your mouth, it’s like a strawberry gusher (remember those?!), with tart strawberry, blue Icee (or those?), and creamy vanilla bean flavors balanced by mouth-watering acidity and a finish that JUST. DOES. NOT. QUIT. We are forever grateful to folks like Ann who keep the dream of creating cool wines a reality for us.

Time Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 11:00 AM
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 6, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Behind our Little Garage

The story behind the garage begins with Eddie Bratton, a young fella from Fargo, North Dakota. He bought his first motorcycle bike in 1926 at the age of 15 and eventually rode out from Fargo to California, surviving solely on onion sandwiches and potatoes he'd dig up from rural farms. Eddie started at Hap Jones' Indian Motorcycle dealership in San Francisco, tuning bikes and manufacturing custom "Bratton Cams," his rendition for the nation’s top riders looking for an extra boost. 
When he wasn’t working, he was riding. He competed annually in the Catalina Grand Prix, one of the biggest races in the country at the time. According to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, it was a 100-mile event held on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles and the course was a mixture of road, dirt fire trails, singletrack, and even went through a golf course. Many big riders skipped the Grand Prix to avoid embarrassment when riders who typically dominated the race came out on top. 

One of his favorite tricks while riding was with his wife. He would stand on one foot peg and raise his body off the seat on that side. His wife would scoot under him and he would slide back, swapping him as the driver. Consider it the motorcycle version of the Chinese fire drill except while the bike was moving. Then, they’d catch up with their group and surprise their fellow riders with her in charge. 
He was known for his devotion to Indian motorcycles, considering them tried and true. He opened up his shop where Tank sits today, racing and repairing classic bikes until retiring in the early 80s. His custom 1947 Indian Chief still sits in our brick hallway with his trophies line on the wall behind it. Some tasting room staff may say that Eddie still hangs out in the back hallways of the garage. True legends never die but don’t worry, he’s not the hell-raiser he used to be. 


The inspiration behind Tank comes from a visit our owner, James Harder, took earlier in his career to a gas station winery in Walla Walla, Washington. A wine bottle shop, a pet shop, and a few other miscellaneous ventures along the way, our very own Harder then discovered our little garage in 2014 and saw something different. With an extensive marketing background, he had no idea he possessed all the tools to create the best tasting room in Calistoga.  A little dreamin’ later, Tank Garage Winery was born. 
When you step into Tank Garage Winery today, you can feel the presence of a story. There’s something different about walking into a location that has taken on many different hats over the years. Strolling through the big restored rolling garage door and pouring wines under a giant lubrication sign, we think Eddie would be proud. The preservation of the history of the garage combined with a love for cool, new wines has created your new favorite place to hang.

Time Posted: Jan 6, 2021 at 11:00 AM