Los Gatos winery opens for tastings for first time in 25 years

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Rose Lacey, estate director at Rhys Vineyards in Los Gatos, holds a bottle set to be poured for a tasting. The winery on Skyline Boulevard recently opened for tastings by appointment only for the first time in 25 years after being named 2023 Winery of the Year by Vinous Media. (Photo by Laura Ness)

What has been strictly a “mailing list only” affair for the last 25 years is now available to wine enthusiasts on a by-appointment basis: Rhys Vineyards, perched on Skyline Boulevard in Los Gatos, is now open for tastings.

Honored by Antonio Galloni and the Vinous Media team in late 2023 as their Winery of the Year, Rhys is the domain of Kevin Harvey, who first planted vines at his Woodside home in 1994. After installing the Home Ranch Vineyard, Harvey subsequently planted seven additional vineyards, all organically farmed, from as far south as Watsonville (Mt. Pajaro Vineyard) and as far north as Anderson Valley, where the Bearwallow Vineyard sits at the edge of the forest that flanks the Navarro River.

Longtime winemaker Jeff Brinkman worked at Husch Vineyards in Anderson Valley prior to joining Rhys, so he knows that region well. Harvey also planted a vineyard on Centennial Mountain in Sonoma, where Italian varieties are grown for the Aeris brand.

Rhys is known for its caves dug deep into the mountain on Skyline Boulevard, where wines from its three local vineyards have earned a well-deserved reputation for their pristine, terroir-reflective character. This is especially true of the wines from Alpine and Horseshoe Vineyards, set in the windswept hills and constantly buffeted by the Pacific, with rare sunny days. The wines reflect that tension of sunlight and fog.

With two winemaking facilities, one in Ukiah and one at the winery on Skyline, winemaker Jeff Brinkman keeps extremely busy, making single-vineyard wines from Harvey’s eclectic array of vineyards, mostly dedicated to chardonnay and pinot noir, but of late augmented by chenin blanc and Riesling at Mt. Pajaro, a former apple orchard 7 miles from the ocean and 900 feet up at the southern edge of the Corralitos area in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

From Mt. Pajaro, which is in the vicinity of famed pinot noir producer Windy Oaks, Brinkman crafts a solera-like sparkling wine called Perpetual Reserve. It’s a fascinating sparkler that displays the recent hand of consultant Rodolphe Péters, whose family owns Pierre Péters Champagne in Mesnil sur Oger, France.

Guided tastings at Rhys are held upstairs in what was formerly the kitchen and dining room of the castle-like home that sits on the property overlooking a steep brush-covered canyon. On the opposite side of the canyon to the east rises the distinctive spine of Monte Bello Ridge, where you can clearly see the vines at famed Ridge Winery, as well as those of Mount Eden, farther south.

The seated tasting currently include six single-vineyard wines, all from the stunning 2021 vintage, with chardonnays from Mt. Pajaro and Horseshoe and pinot noirs from Bearwallow, Home Ranch, Mt. Pajaro and Horseshoe vineyards.

Weather permitting, estate director Rose Lacey may escort guests on a walk through the estate Skyline Vineyard or for a quick peek into the caves, where all the wines are made. Grapes are handled in a careful and respectful manner, resulting in only one ton of grapes being processed per hour at harvest.

Elevage occurs in the finest French oak barrels fashioned exclusively from 4-year air-dried staves. This labor-intensive approach yields wines of poise and grace, with a finish that lingers as long as the memory of a day spent in the mountains.

Tastings at Rhys Vineyards, at 11715  Skyline Boulevard in Los Gatos, are Tuesday-Saturday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The tasting fee is $95 per person. Reservations for parties of up to eight are required to https://members.rhysvineyards.com/visit.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.