Specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon, EmmaLily Vineyards is tucked away in the rolling hills of the Uvas Valley. Owned by Steve and Laura Petersen, it is a family-run boutique winery named after their two daughters and sits on two acres where pigs, horses and dogs roam freely.
As Steve wrote my name on a wine glass, he explained his winemaking philosophy: “I use the same grapes from the same vineyard, but by varying the winemaking process I can make completely different wines. I blend wines fermented with different yeasts to give each wine a unique profile.”
The Madeline Cabernet ($75), made from 100-percent Cabernet grapes and three different yeasts, is a jammy treat, tasting of black cherries with a slight hint of cocoa on the finish. Cosmo’s Passion Cabernet ($85), an estate wine with two different yeasts, is a beautiful garnet—drier and more complex.
I especially enjoyed the spicy, earthiness of the Vingolo Vineyards Cabernet ($200), made from 100-percent Lake County Cabernet grapes and two different yeasts. Laura’s Love Cabernet ($250), made from four yeasts, is the richest of the wines and bursting with blackberry flavors. Vanilla tones and earthy cocoa linger on in the long, smooth finish.
The wines’ high price-points reflect the intensive time and labor that go into the process of using multiple yeasts—but the prices are more than offset by the quality and complexity of these outstanding, Napa-style Cabernets.