A taste of Tuscany in your backyard

A taste of Tuscany in your backyard

When it comes to Italian wine, it’s hard to beat Tuscany. If you’re someone who relishes their quality wines and knows a thing or two about them, then Tuscany’s reputation would have preceded it. However, you may not have a limitless budget to go wine tasting halfway around the world.

Believe it or not, there’s a piece of Tuscany right here in Mendota, California. Actually, there are quite a few pieces of Tuscany here, including tomatoes, almonds and, of course, wine grapes.

So how did Tuscany break off a piece of its beautiful wine culture and deposit it carefully into a small corner of California?

It all started in 1902. Carlo Cardella came to America and brought with him a piece of Italy, a passion for food and wine that quickly grew into an empire of exquisite taste.

The Cardella family started a small market on the land they bought, which eventually blossomed into what is now known as Cardella Ranch. Cardella Ranch boasts over thirty different varieties of nuts, vegetables, and fruits, as well as wine grapes that have made it incredibly appealing to wine amateurs and connoisseurs alike.

Fourth-generation Nathan Cardella founded Cardella Winery with his father Rod in 2004, and since then it’s made waves in the wine world. They saw a need for top-notch artisan wines in the San Joaquin Valley and have filled this niche with a number of award-winning varietals that have earned them a reputation for being exceptional winemakers.

When it comes to the winemaking process, winemaker Joseph Maldonado is proud to have a unique and fresh approach that helps Cardella wines stand out. Compounds in the vineyard itself are responsible for creating original Cardella varietals. Color, flavor, and aroma are all affected by these compounds. San Joaquin Valley has a similar terroir to the Mediterranean where a lot of grape varietals are planted that are best suited to warmer regions.

The long grape-growing seasons and cool evening breezes from the coastal range are relatively consistent, which is what you want when curating a fruit that’s going to produce a particular vintage. Just like it was one hundred years ago, Cardella grapes are harvested by hand. This timeless, hands-on approach means that only the noblest fruit is picked from the bunch to become wine.

Lastly, once the wine has been produced, it rests for a moment – sometimes a long moment – in French and Hungarian oak barrels. Aging the wine in oak barrels for a minimum of twelve months helps to improve the aroma, deepens the color and softens the astringency.

Cardella Wines

This wouldn’t be a decent wine story without us exploring some of the wines that Cardella Winery produce. Let’s take a look:

2012 Cardella Winery Sangiovese: you may have heard of Sangiovese before, but it may have been disguised under its other names, which are Brunello of Chianti. The grape that made this wine is famous in Italy and can be found in most Italian vineyards.

Often, wines produced from this type of grape are exceptionally aromatic, with gentle tannins and a cherry aroma. This wine is a favorite of the Cardella family and with its smooth finish will suit any meal you pair it with.

The beautiful tasting room offers you complimentary wine tasting through Vinely Wine Club, so be sure to make the most of this.

You can even make a weekend of it and take a trip to Tuscany right here in San Joaquin Valley, California. Why rush home when you can explore the beautiful, natural environment of Cardella Ranch? Here, you’ll learn about the age-old practices the Cardella family have put in place to produce some of the most delicious food and wine you could stumble across.

With so many larger corporations out there capitalizing on the wine market, it can be hard for long-standing wineries like Cardella to maintain a presence. However, they’re stoic and confident that their approach will stand the test of time – and it has.

When you visit Cardella Winery, you’ll experience what it’s like to taste a bottle of wine that’s been made out of someone’s passion for quality. You’ll taste the food and drink each vintage knowing that four generations of the Cardella family have put their heart and soul into each mouthful.

 

Rachel Sikkema

Rachel Sikkema is Vinely’s storyteller. She loves writing about all things wine and telling the story of local wineries and winemakers. When she's not testing out exciting new labels to write about, she's busy running around after her two young daughters.