Change typically has a propensity of sending shockwaves of awe, anger and a variable of other emotions through a given community. In Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley, change affects typically conservative mindsets that create barriers against anything novel or different. Andis wines proudly and profoundly stands as a gleaming, shining example of how things are evolving in the Shenandoah Valley.
Andis’ winery and tasting room is ultra-modern. The immense, monolithic structure is clad in gleaming panels of metal, and resembles an warehouse one may find in Oakland or Emeryville (CA East Bay). Some liken it to a used car lot, a small airport, or a hull of alien spaceship that came apart and when entering the earth’s atmosphere and crash landed in the ‘Valley. Whatever the designation, it certainly is a contrast against the bucolic, rustic setting of the Shenandoah Valley that features cute, quaint tasting rooms that seemed inspired by wineries in Bordeaux or Tuscany or a country outhouse.
The large tasting room, however modern, exudes warmth. The surrounding Shenandoah Valley undulates in a marvelous array of green, red and brown, and its view is clearly visible from the tasting bar. The staff is pleasant, knowledgeable and amiable (some will even grant a brief tour of the facility for free). The latest sports affair flickers silently on a massive flat-screen television adjacent to the tasting bar.
25 acres of vineyards, mainly 35 year old Zinfandel surround the winery. New plantings of Aglianico, Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc and Barbera show promise that the winery will diversify its estate grown, oenological offerings (Andis’ first estate vintage will be its 2010 Zinfandel).
The structure itself is a brilliant feat of architecture, offering a streamlined approach to winemaking. The fermentation room (which features a Sonoma cast stone concrete fermentation/aging “egg”: reminiscent of wine making of old, and intensifying the fruit flavors in the wine contained because of a small surface area for punchdown) is directly next to the crushpad, which is directly next to its aging room, which is directly next to the tasting room: the whole process is virtually linear, with the idea that the setup improves and streamlines the functionality of Andis’ winemaking process. The building design was conceptualized by Sage Architecture, whose raw building materials consider using low energy, and are, in affect environmentally friendly (inroads to Amador County architecture).
At the helm of this winery is winemaker and general manager Mark McKenna, an Amador stalwart who has exercised is winemaking chops at Montevina and Bray Vineyards, and is owned by the delightful pair Andy and Janis Friedlander (Andy + Janis = Andis). The wine is outstanding: the Andis’ Sauvignon Blanc sleek and savory, balancing ripe juicy grassy citrus flavors with stiletto sharpness. Also highly recommended: the 2009 Cabernet Franc, a wine sourced from Fair Play, and exhibiting an amazing array of blackberry, cherry and tobacco. Other standouts include the reserve Petite Sirah and the Painted Fields blend.
Two other nuggets of ingenuity also make this winery outstanding. First, Andis offers beer on tap, sold by the glass . Secondly…they also serve wine on tap, which is can also be purchased in a svelte 20-ounce bottle. And THAT’S novel.
11000 Shenandoah Road
Plymouth, CA 95669