Getting to Savannah-Chanelle Winery is its own adventure. Coasting through redwoods and mountains, it is easy to overlook the small, windy off-shoot of a road that leads to this delicious hideaway. But keep a weather eye out because the necessary tree-dodging and down-shifting are well worth the reward.
Once you turn onto the hidden pathway to Savannah-Chanelle, you may well think you are on your way to a private estate instead of a winery. Driving up the hill, winding around trees, and praying that you don’t meet another car may cause a little apprehension, but all of that disappears when you break into the sun.
On a lonely hilltop sits the old, white mansion where Savannah-Chanelle’s winemakers once looked out upon their fields. Surrounded by vines and tree-covered hilltops, this house with its beautiful fountains and manicured lawns looks like a dream. Well worthy of any wedding, it creates an unparalleled picnicking experience.
But the real gem of the winery is of course the tasting room. The old, dark wood of this barn sets up a high expectation, one that will absolutely be met.
Generally, I am not a big fan of red wine. I like sweet, I like light, and I hate tannins. You would think a winery that almost exclusively serves red wines would turn me away unhappy.
On the contrary. Savannah-Chanelle was the winery that convinced me that red wines can be delicious. All of their wines are low in tannins, high in alcohol content, and exhibit robust, expressive flavors bound to impress.
They specialize in Pinots that will satisfy any palate, from light yet complex flavors all the way to the big, bold flavors red wine connoisseurs love. But Savannah-Chanelle offers more fabulous wines than just Pinot Noirs. Their Cabernet Franc has amazingly complex flavors, combining the subtlety of their tamer wines with a bold taste that leaves you wondering how the winemakers could ever create so sophisticated and exciting a drink. The winery also boasts several Syrahs with varying degrees of “bam” flavor sure to appeal to those who want an extra kick. But being a dessert fan, my personal favorite will always be their Port. Made from Syrah grapes, this Port is smooth and velvety while still boasting that extra kick that makes it the best Port I have ever had.
A discussion of Savannah-Chanelle would not be complete without a standing ovation for its staff. Kind, lively, and chock full of interesting facts about the wine, vineyard, and pretty much any other topic, their chief pourer, Mike, makes the tasting experience even more special.
Savannah-Chanelle is a fabulous place to eat, drink, and just sit back, relax, and observe the beauty around you. It is in my opinion the best winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, not least because only those in the know seem to make their way there. I expect that will not be the case for long.