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It’s been a few years since Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores and my husband Jose Diaz were both at Bowdoin College together. And it wasn’t until we returned home from visiting Tres Sabores that we were able to put all of the puzzle pieces together; but legacy is legacy… and the bonds run deep.

I’ve got generations of legacy at Bowdoin, too, although it was my daughter Katie Kelley who was the lucky one to attend, not I. I just chased the campus while in high school…. Every high school girl in Maine’s dream.

So, when we arrived at Tres Sabores, Julie looked at Jose and said, “I know you. Where do I know you from?”  The trying to trace it all back began… The mystery was solved with the Internet, though, by finding their mutual bond. They passed each other on campus on a daily basis. Now it’s a full generation later, with both of them enjoying separate careers in the wine industry, about 3,500 miles from their past.

Julie Johnson has recently joined the PS I Love You group. I’m on a rip to visit with every one of the members that I’m able. With Kathy Conley and her daughter Kia visiting from North Carolina, the day I had planned for us all included Tres Sabores.

My history with Julie dates back to when I first came to wine country and joined Women for Wine Sense. At the time, she was the president. Because of that leadership role, she’s widely known in the wine business for her involvement. Today, her role with WWS has lessened greatly, as she is now deeply embroiled in her own brand with growing, winemaking, and marketing. She’s a woman of great accomplishment. The years between knowing each other have dseen us both going our own ways and doing a lot with and for wine, but getting back together was like no time had passed.

The name Tres Sabores makes perfect sense for what she’s organically doing. From her Website:

Welcome to Tres Sabores! Our small, family-owned ranch is located on the western Rutherford Benchland of California’s Napa Valley, where we grow organically certified Zinfandel, Cabernet, Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot grapes, olives, Meyer lemons and exotic pomegranate cultivars. Our single-vineyard wines include Tres Sabores estate Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from the Farina Vineyard of Sonoma Mountain.

Tres Sabores means “Three Flavors” in Spanish, and in each of our wines, you’ll find three equally savory yet distinct tastes: the Terroir, or flavor embodied by the unique location of our ranch; the Vine, or distinct character of the grape variety; and the Artisan, or winemaker’s personal contribution of style and intuition. When appropriately balanced, these flavors result in wines with intense, yet delicate, aromas and a structure that supports both long-term aging and immediate enjoyment.

L to R: Melanie Hoffman, Kathy Conley, her daughter Kia, and Jose

When we arrived at Tres Sabores, Julie had a picnic table completely set for us. It was wine country casual, complete with flora and fauna… or at least flora and lambs and mom (Decca is the mother, Spot and Bella are the lambs). A Certified Organic environment, it was bottling day, and the van was alive with rock n’roll and clinking bottles. Julie’s wine was going into bottles and she was abuzz with activity. She did take time to enjoy lunch with us, between flitting to and from her other guests, a bachelor party at the other table and an anniversary couple tucked neatly away from the rest of the madding crowd. This is all in a day’s work for Julie… just a typical summer day at the winery. If you want to visit Tres Sabores, please make an appointment, to guarantee space.

Tres Sabores is located on just 12.5 acres of property in St. Helena, situated at the base of the Maycamas Mountains… A great location for growing grapes. When Julie began the Tres Sabores brand, she was a Zin gal. Today, she’s evolved into not only producing Zin, but she’s also crafting a gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and a blend called, ¿Porqué No? (Why Not?) I loved this wine, because it was a simple blend that just seemed to match our picnic fare. Perhaps it was the Petite Verdot, perhaps it was the moment, perhaps it blended so perfectly with what I was eating at the time.

This Zinfandel, Cabernet, Petit Verdot, and PS blend had a beautiful floral nose of violets and roses. On the palate, the floral aspects were enhanced with black fruit, cherries, and cocoa powder. It’s an opulent wine, and really enhanced the wild rice dish that I had brought (wild rice, cranberries, corn, toasted almonds, and purple onions in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing). Suggested Retail for ¿Porqué No?: $20.00

Tres Sabores is a 3,000 case winery, ladies and gentlemen. This isn’t one of those glamorous facilities that typically populate Napa Valley. It’s one of those down home, honest, hard working farms that reminded me why we’re all here… Some of us just love being connected to the earth, and we love what nature has to offer. We all have to make a living, and wine’s such a beautiful complement while enjoying our meals with new and old friends and family, that there is no better way to live.

A Tres Sabores picnic provides the environment that naturalists crave. If I had brought a child with me for this winery visit, we would have been in the the vines creeping up on the Guinea hens, patting the four week old lambs, while feeding the insatiable appetite of Decca – the mother sheep – and, we would have been visiting all of the flowers in Julie’s Certified Organic gardens that surround her property. It’s a slice of paradise in Napa Valley, and demonstrates the good life, lived simply and with all passions put to use. Oh yeah… And it’s great wine.