You just never know where a chance meeting will take you. My assistant and I were visiting Fields Family Wines for the purpose of interviewing the vintner for an article on their wine and winery. While we were there, we met Mike Brown, vintner and owner for Cantara Cellars of Camarillo, California. He invited us to come visit his winery when we were in Southern California. My assistant and I had already planned a trip, so we set up a time we could come to interview Mike at Cantara Cellars.
Cantara Cellars Chardonnay
When met and we talked with Mike about Cantara Cellars, his passion for his wine and winery was obvious and infectious. When he gave us a tour of his operation, you could see the pride he takes in the wine he produces. The wine he produces shows it. His finely crafted wines are amazing.
Mike comes from Lodi, California where his family grew Chardonnay wine grapes for the many wineries that surround the area. In fact, his family’s home is a 1/2 mile from the Mondavi operation of Woodbridge. His earliest memories were of the smell of the fermenting grapes as he was waiting for the school bus during crush. When you ask him about those times, he’ll laugh and regale you with all the things he did as a kid on the family farm. We loved his stories.
Mike left the family wine grape growing business, went to college, became an engineer and moved to Camarillo, California. However, wine was still in his blood, so while, on a wine tasting trip to Oregon, he and his wife made a decision to start a winery, and the rest is history.
Mike entered the winemaking business from his home. He and his wife quickly realized that they needed more space to pursue their passion. They now produce over 10 to 14 different varietals of award winning wines, depending on his interest and customer demand. Their wine collection always includes their signature Chardonnay.
Cantara Cellars, solely owned by Mike and his wife Chris, has been in existence since 2002. The name of their winery came from where they live. A neighbor’s young daughter couldn’t pronounce their name, calling them Mr. & Mrs. B, so the Bee became an icon on the label and the cork. Even thou Mike produces the wine in Camarillo; the grapes are primarily grown in Lodi by his family and other vintners such as Fields Family Wines. The Cantara Cellars wine tasting room, located in the heart of the Ventura wine region, is warm, inviting and gives a true sense of the Browns passion for their wines.
The fact is, we were hard pressed to decide which wine we liked the best. They were each unique, interesting and delicious. So we decided to showcase their signature Chardonnay.
This is what Mike Brown has to say about his Cantara Cellars Chardonnay 2011:
“Fresh, lively green apple, almond, shortbread, and cream flavors wash easily across the palate, leaving a splash of jasmine in their wake. The lingering finish is dry, with acids that accentuate the fruit flavors and carry them through to the long finish. 100% barrel fermented in neutral oak with multiple yeast strains, aged ‘Sur lie’ with no secondary fermentation. Ruth’s Vineyard is a special block of family grown Chardonnay named for Mike’s mother. 100% Lodi Appellation.”
We very much enjoyed our time with Mike and visiting Cantara Cellars Winery. He was a gracious and generous host. We will be back, and we will be looking to buy more of his award-winning creations in the very near future. We would encourage you to do the same.
Time for a glass…
P.S.: Check out a few of my favorite wine tools and resources below. 🙂