The Madera Vintners Association’s family wineries presented Madera Wine Trail’s Wine and Chocolate Weekend to kick off Valentine’s Day week. Our weekend started with a detour due to the 5 freeway being closed at the Grapevine. A four hour trip turned into a 6-hour cold, rainy drive up to Madera. Getting in at 1:30am on Saturday morning, we were tired and just wanted to go to sleep. I was amazed how courteous and accommodating the front desk staff was at the Hampton Inn in Madera. The front desk manager got us checked in, gave us our HHonor welcome goodies, and even an upgrade to a King suite (perks of being a Gold HHonors member). In less than 10 minutes, we were snoozing away and dreaming of our adventure ahead of the Madera Wine Trail.
We started at the northern-most point of the wine trail in Oakhurst, which is just 12 miles south of Yosemite National Park. We had stayed in Oakhurst before during a week-long vacation of visiting and hiking through Yosemite. In this quaint little town, you’ll find Idle Hour Winery. They even have Queen’s Inn attached, an 8-room inn complete with wine bar and beer garden. Idle Hour Winery produces small lot, single vineyard designated wines using sustainably grown grapes and makes the wine gently using native yeast fermentation, gravity flow and other traditional methods. They specialize in Viognier, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. Their tasting room is very spacious for the size of the winery with wine barrels stacked along the edges and country décor all around. And while it’s a very open room, it still makes you feel at home.
For the Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Idle Hour Winery set up a sensory bar to educate wine purveyors on the fundamentals of aromas and identifying and appreciating the tastes of foods, wines, and beverages. A whole table of items to sniff and taste make a myriad of sensory infusion come alive with each combination. Winemaker Anna Marie dos Remedios and her partner, Deb Payne, are great hosts and love to talk about their wine.
2011 Viognier, John Simpson Vineyard, Madera. Tasting notes: Crisp and light flavor. It would pair well with a walnut, apple, and chicken salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Suggested pairing with Thai Red Curry Squash Soup
2010 Pinot Noir, Lucia Highlands Vineyard. This wine just won a Silver Medal at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Suggested paring with Pasta with Lobster, Wild Mushrooms, & Cream
2010 Tempranillo, Heringer Estate Vineyard, Clarksburg. This wine won a Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Tasting notes: medium body, well balanced, oak finish. Suggested pairing with Garlic Chicken
2011 Cabernet Franc, Heringer Estate Vineyard, Clarksburg. This wine won a Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Tasting notes: heavy and a bit too sour for my taste. Suggested pairing with Roasted Rib Steak with Bordelaise Sauce
2010 Syrah, Love Ranch Vineyard, Madera. Tasting notes: This would pair well with a coffee-encrusted flat iron steak or infused into a Syrah chocolate sauce with a hint of salt atop a vanilla bean ice cream. Suggested pairing with Creamy Soft Polenta with Meat Ragu
2010 Petit Sirah, Heringer Estate Vineyard, Clarksburg. Tasting notes: Cherry and vanilla tones throughout. It would be great paired with a creamy cherry tart.
Let your body go “idle” and stay for a while at the Idle Hour Winery.
- Join the Idle Hour Wine Club and receive 20% off your wine purchase.
For more information:
Idle Hour Winery
41139 Highway 41
Oakhurst, CA 93644
Looking for a place to stay while visiting Yosemite National Park?
41139 Highway 41
Oakhurst, CA 93644
Suggested base camp hotel for the Madera Wine Trail:
Hampton Inn & Suites Madera
3254 Airport Dr
Madera, California 93637