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Eno Wines: Urban Pinot

There are some Pinot Noir producers who have forsaken the wine country for a more practical winery setup in the city. Lost Canyon Winery has been profiled in these pages several times. Their state-ofthe- art winery and modern tasting room are located in an old warehouse on the Oakland urban waterfront. The three partner-owners live close by and can easily go to the winery on a daily basis. Eno Wines and Harrington Wines both craft tiny lots of Pinot Noir in an ivy-covered warehouse in Berkeley which has been a winery since the 1970s. These three wineries are part of an urban winery movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are at least 14 wineries, including those such as Dain at Crushpad across the Bay in San Francisco. There is now an East Bay Vintners Alliance as well.

Eno Wines is a boutique winery owned by Sasha Verhage who is also the winemaker. He is a multitalented wine lover who has been crafting wine since 1999. He learned under Tom Leaf, formerly of Grapeleaf Cellars in Berkeley, and has traveled extensively to many wine-producing areas of the world for experience. His inspiration, like many winemakers, is the combination of love for fine wine and the fine arts. He is a also a graphic designer of great repute and his uniquely designed labels (see below) have won design awards.

Verhage sources his Pinot Noir from Fairview Road Ranch in the Santa Lucia Highlands and has made Fairview Pinot Noir since its first harvest in 2003. This young vineyard continues to get better with each vintage. The 2003 Eno Pinot Noir was named “The Great Promise” because after tasting the 2004 vintage, Verhage tasted a big leap in quality. The vineyard is farmed by Kirk Williams. (To see the exact location of the vineyard, go to the Santa Lucia Highlands Appellation website to view the 3-D map of all of the Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards).

2004 Eno Wines “The Gifted One” Fairview Road Ranch Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.5% alc., 80 cases, $35 (sold out). · This Pinot Noir will appeal to those who prefer a dark, big, and bold style with noticeable oak. There is copious hi-tone sweet Pinot fruit on the nose and palate. The high alcohol is nicely integrated. Like a number of Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noirs, the wine is Syrah-like. It is not a classic Pinot Noir in the traditional sense - much more KB than DRC - but I liked it for what it was and that was an enjoyable drink. I also really admired the original packaging and the back label which read, “From birth, he spoke his mind. His talents showed great promise. Not the bully or the Bell Curve. He pulled brilliance and bounty from the earth. He is simply the Gifted One.”

2003 Eno Wines “The Great Promise” Fairview Road Ranch Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $30. · The nose is all wood with only a hint of prune-like fruit. The wine delivers healthy and appealing fruit flavors but is out of balance with high acid and a dry, tannic finish. The wine above, as I am sure Verhage would admit, is a quantum leap above this one.

Eno Wines is located at 805 Camelia St, Berkeley. Wines may be ordered by phone (425-515-7227) or on the website (www.enowines.com). There is limited retail distribution. The website is very informative, with a number of helpful links, and not surprisingly, well designed.

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