We've talked here about our trips to Sutter Creek and what was a wonderful steak house there, J&D's (NOTE: J&D's is now closed and another restaurant is open in the space). Well, one of the owners has become a real estate agent and the steak house is now Griffin's and we've yet to try the new place.
When we went, there was a Happy Hour where you could try a local wine for $3 a glass. We had a red that was sublime. I asked the server what it was and he said a temperanillo.
But who made it? It took a little prying and finally he told me. It was made on the side by a waiter at Taste, another restaurant in nearby Plymouth.
He said I could try to find the guy there...who's name he didn't know...and maybe he'd sell me some. Almost sounds like a drug dealer behind the 7/11 but what the heck, I'd give it a try.
We went to Plymouth but Taste was closed and so ended my adventure to find the underground wine of Amador Country...for now.
Fast forward to June, 2014. We're back and in Plymouth. Taste is still closed so no hope of finding the waiter but we're tasting at Amador 360.
Amador 360 is a tasting room on Highway 49, which serves as sort of a catch all for wineries in the area that are too small to invest in a tasting room of their own and the staff to run it.
I came here because I saw a great sale on Parallax Barbera they had here but we might was well take advantage of the tastes being poured today.
We're sampling barberas, old vine zins, and then the owner pulls out a couple of sangioveses.
"This one is Fate," the owner tells us (printed as F8 on the label). "It's made by a waiter at Taste on the side."
What? Again? I've found the wine, except this time it's sangiovese.
"He makes a different wine each time, you should have tried the temperanillo."
Well, we did but I guess we missed the boat on buying more. Nevertheless, the sangionvese is also excellent so I buy a couple of bottles while I have the chance.
I'd finally found the underground wine and the dealer who I can get it from. Sounds like a drug transaction but, no, it's completely legit.
The next morning we're at Bray Winery in the nearby Shenandoah Valley. A bucolic place with winery cats and a dog. Hundreds of award ribbons line the walls and we enjoy a quiet tasting of the wines.
I notice a tattoo on the arm of the gentleman pouring for us..."F8"...in the same font as the label on the wine yesterday.
"Are you involved with Fate wines?" I ask, pointing to his tattoo.
"I am Fate," he replies.
No way...after two years, I'm finally catching up with the phantom winemaker I've been trying to meet.
His name is Thomas Allen and he tells me that he buys grapes from different wineries up here. He's friends with the Brays and they let him use the winery equipment off-hours to make his wine.
My video camera focus was on the wrong setting, but if you can stand a little blurriness, here's the man himself with a quick explanation of his wine:
We do, it's delicious. I remark that the wines are exceptional but they're not expensive ($12-$15 range).
"I think wines should be affordable. I make enough, I'd rather people like my wine than think they spent too much money"
We need more encounters with Fate in today's wine industry.
Thomas sells his F8 wine through various restaurants in Amador county and you can buy it retail at Amador 360 either in person or online. Here's a link to F8's wine at Amador 360.
It took awhile but I'm glad I finally tracked down the mysterious underground winemaker in this great wine region. I'm sure Fate will cross our paths again someday.
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Pictures by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved