More than 250 wineries have sprung up in the 10 counties that can be considered part of the Foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The wines being produced are incredible: intense, unique, sometimes even experimental in terms of blends and varietals. Learn more about this great and growing California wine region!
Monday, October 26, 2015
Teena Wilkins keeps Spanish Traditions in Vina Castellano - Placer County
the Abuelita blend of Spanish
varietals from Viña Castellano was awarded a Best of California designation in
the 2014 California State Fair, Teena Wilkins got emotional. “All these years of hard work, family
investment and involvement, risk taking and course corrections – all that was
finally recognized and it felt so good.”
is the co-owner of Viña Castellano Estate Vineyards and Winery in Auburn, which
started in 1999 when she and her late father Gabe Mendez put in Tempranillo and
Syrah. The vineyard, now 10 acres, sits
on land owned for 40 years by Teena’s forebears, the Mendez family. From the beginning, it was a family
venture. When you visit today, you’re
likely to see Mendez family siblings, grandchildren and friends all
contributing to the work of the winery in some way.
Teena (Augustina) at entrance to the wine cave
cultural traditions are what led Teena into this enterprise. “I grew up with my grandmother Mercedes
Maria-Mendez living next door; she made
200 gallons of wine every year from the time she was a young girl until she was
a very old woman,” Teena recalls. “Wine was part of our food life, and from a
Sunday dinners introduced us to the taste of wine with food.”
2003, the vineyard yielded enough fruit for a first crush, which took place at
a facility in Cloverdale near Auburn.
Work was underway to excavate a cave on their own property. The construction of the cave, including
lining it with large granite stones that had been removed when the vineyard was
planted, took some years. But by 2005, Viña
Castellano began winemaking there.
the cave provides Teena and her winery consultant Derek Irwin with plenty of
room to produce 2000 cases of estate wine.
There are now 10 planted acres, and another 15 plantable acres will be
coming on stream in the future. Barrels take up a goodly portion of room in the
cave; the old-world winemaking style for which Viña Castellano is known means
that many of their wines are aged in the barrel for three or more years. This
wine cave has a cozy European feel and space is shared with a charming tasting
wine tasting experience in Viña Castellano’s cave is one that’s very convivial. “You don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy
our wines,” notes Teena. “Our wines are
approachable, fresh, yet complex.”
winery makes 1600-1800 cases yearly of estate wines from their 10 acres of
vineyards, focusing on the varietals of Tempranillo, Syrah, Granacha,
Monastrell, Cabernet Franc, and Verdejo.
Other Spanish varietals will be offered over time too!
can read more about this winery and meet the family at a special meal
that photographer Johan Martin photographed for my forthcoming book...sign up
to get updates/alert on publication date ... www.wineriesofthesierrafoothills.com)