Villa Fiorente: Four artisan wineries in superb setting
Ciotti Cellars, Cristaldi Vineyards, Fortezza Winery and Popie by Duarte Family Vineyards are the four family-run wineries that share Villa Fiorente, a beautiful Tuscan-style wine villa.
“We offer a unique, personalized and engaging wine tasting experience,” says Lisa Mann, owner of Fortezza Winery, the site of the Villa Fiorente tasting room. “It’s an intimate perspective on the art of wine.”
Villa Fiorente is Placer County’s newest tasting room. The county has over 18 wineries, more than a dozen tasting rooms with regular hours and nearly 250 acres of vineyards. Most began operations in the past 10 years.
Like an Italian meal, wine tasting at “the Villa” is savored at a leisurely pace. A $10 tasting fee gains you access to all four wineries, as well as $8 in “VillaCash” that can be used as credit toward a wine purchase. Tasting is free on the weekend of your birthday.
Plenty of seating and the likelihood of visiting for several hours make it a natural destination for a picnic.
Villa Fiorente also offers a premier wine club that provides complimentary tasting for members and a guest, 15 percent bottle discounts, special events and four bottles from each winery three times a year.
“Benvenuti Amici,” or welcome friends, is the spirit of the Ciotti family. Generations of
winemakers have been born into the Ciotti family. “Wine has been in my heritage forever,” says owner Joe Ciotti.
Ciotti is a boutique family winery near Rocklin. Focusing on hand crafted premium wines, it is able to spend extra attention to details, with wines that are rich and bold, soft and juicy, with velvety finishes.
Ciotti’s wines include Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Vine Zinfandel, Barbera and Malbec. Ciotti’s Old Vine Zinfandel won a Silver medal in the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
“Our Zin has a beautiful aroma of rich black fruits,” says Ciotti. “Aged in French and American oak for 16 months brings out a subtle but rich silky chocolate.”
The Cristaldi Vineyards is located in the rolling hills of Loomis. The winery, surrounded by the estate’s vineyards and olive groves, are perched on a beautiful and rugged hillside overlooking the Loomis basin.
Cristaldi specializes in producing limited production single-vineyard and field-blended estate wines. About 15 different grape varietals grow on the estate.
Well-known varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grow alongside popular Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Dolcetto and Barbera, among others.
“Harvest is based on touch and smell, taste and look, rather than lab reports,” says owner David Brockman. “The passion for traditional winemaking is evident in every bottle.”
The Loomis property also includes olive groves that produce extra virgin olive oils.
Fortezza has a long history of farming. Since 1979 fruit has been growing on its fertile soil. Now Fortezza’s vineyards are planted with Italian and French varieties of wine grapes.
“We grow Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Viognier and Primitivo,” says Mann. “With a climate that mirrors the southern Mediterranean, we can easily ripen our grapes to perfection.” Mann, who has studied viticulture at UC Davis, began planting the estate vineyard in 2006. The 2010 harvest provided Fortezza’s first full crop of estate wines.
POPIE BY DUARTE FAMILY VINEYARDS
Winemaking is a part of Popie Wines’ heritage. Owner Mike Duarte’s father was a longtime Napa Valley grower, helping to provide grapes for such high-quality wines as Martha’s Vineyard by Heitz Cellars and Cabernet Bosche by Freemark Abbey.
“He is the inspiration behind my label,” says Duarte, who grows grapes on two acres. “I am now taking my family heritage to the next step in producing what I hope to be well made, enjoyable wines.”
About 95 percent of Popie’s wine production is from Placer grown grapes, including Barbera and Zinfandel. A 2007 Barbera and Syrah blend called Basin Red, 2007 Barbera Reserve and 2008 Zinfandel won medals in the 2011 San Francisco Wine Competition. “Over the years I have learned that wine is truly made in the vineyard,” he says.
10555 Harris Rd., Auburn