by James Garcia Jr.
In an area of Kingsburg where one might not expect to find anything extraordinary, there is a wine tasting room that is exactly that. At 1665 Simpson, on the west side of the street, some award-winning wines can be found, not from Napa or the Central Coast, but from the California Central Valley. Kingsburg High and 2005 Fresno State graduate, Oscar F. Ramos, is producing premium wines at the winery that he founded: Ramos Torres Winery.
“At Ramos Torres Wines we are committed to crafting wines of unique character, elegance, and intense focus,” reads the RamosTorres website. “This commitment goes beyond the cellar door and into the finest vineyards of our region. We only source grapes from winegrowers that produce the highest quality grapes for fine winemaking. We are committed to the arduous process of finding the absolute best vineyards where their growers are steadfast in their care and attention to detail to produce only the finest wine grapes while using a sustainable approach. These growers have proven themselves to have a sophisticated outlook and demonstrate expertise, knowledge, and passion for growing grapes that produce world class wines. With these superior grapes, we use techniques that involve a minimum of human intervention. This approach leads us to craft wines that reflect the terroir from which they were grown.”
Rather than do a lot of advertising, the winery attributes much of its success to wine club members. According to their website, Ramos Torres Wine Club is an excellent way to secure a case of limited production wine for enjoyment throughout the year. Members receive three bottles of wine in February, three in May, and six in November. There is no membership fee. The cost of wine club shipments varies between $65-$130, depending upon wine selection and quantity. Club members also receive 15% off all wine purchased, announcements of special events, and complimentary tastings.According to Jennifer Brown, the Marketing and Business Development Manager, they have been averaging about 1800 cases a year. “We primarily just sell out of the tasting room. It’s been word of mouth.” Prior to her taking the job as a manager, Brown herself was a wine club customer. “I was a club member myself when I started working for Oscar. My husband and I would do the wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres on Friday nights. We just have this really good product that we tell each other about.”
One of the special traits of the tasting room is the room itself. Beautiful and interesting artwork hangs from the walls and a wood burning stove is lit, providing a lovely ambiance to go along with the quaint tables and stools. “It’s a nice alternative for people because they don’t want to go to a bar,” said Jennifer. “They want to sit and relax. Since we’ve been open seven days a week since Thanksgiving, when I get here after the end of my day, we have always had a few people in here meeting after work, or having a drink before they go to dinner. They really like coming in here. They’re comfortable in here; and the wine is really good.”
Armed with a degree in enology from Fresno State, Oscar is a young wine maker with a label that already produces premium wines. “Every year he goes and looks at what is out there as far as grapes to buy for wine making,” continued Jennifer. “He only buys from wine makers, so it changes all of the time. He is really particular about what he buys. He really wants good quality grapes. I think that is why we have such a good product.”
Already the wines of Ramos Torres have won critical recognition. Their 2007 Vino Tinto, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petit Sirah, won the 2010 Gold at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition. Their 2007 Branches, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet, won Double Gold at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, and their 2007 Lucas Vineyard Zinfandel, a blend of Zinfandel and Petit Sirah, won the Double Gold at the Finger Lakes International wince Competition in New York. Their website states that their dedication to excellence and passion for wines with unique character have led them to produce wines that reflect that commitment.
The following is a list provided by Ramos Torres of the wines they serve, along with their description:
2009 Conversations: Rich muscat nose with apricots and muscat spice; fruit and citrus aromas with hints of orange essence. A tantalizing balance between Chardonnay and Muscat. Great pairing potential with salads, sushi and desserts.
2008 Vino Tinto: This vintage offers more austere flavor than the previous vintages resulting in a very well balanced wine that will benefit from bottle age. You’ll find predominate acid and tannins and the nose will enjoy cherry pie and mineral earthy tones.
2008 Lucas Vineyard Zinfandel, Lodi: This 2008 vintage shows a great deal of ripe aromas and less mineral than previous vintages. The nose has a great combination of wood from barrel and fruit aromas that are teaming with hints of leather. In the mouth this wine has jammy flavors and a great balance.
2008 Fasi Vineyard Syrah, Madera: It’s bright and very smooth with Cola, cherry aromas, and hints of spice and vanilla. Enjoy with cheese and bread dipped in cream sauces.
2007 Vino Tinto: This table red is very well balanced with fruit forward aromas and a great mouth feel. It is by no means an ordinary table red, but a carefully blended wine.
2007 Ventana Vineyard Grenache, Arroyo Seco: I just love the way this Ventana Vineyard Grenache explodes with raging aromas of rose petals, white cracked pepper, and spice. These aromas are then teamed with hints of citrus fruit, more specifically, grapefruit. After this theatrical by the nose, the palate stirs up memories of how tannins can be chewy in a Grenache, but because of the earthiness and great balanced finish, the tannins are more than welcomed.
2007 Lucas Vineyard Zinfandel, Lodi-Available Only at Our Tasting Room: Our Zinfandel starts with a hint of wild berries, laced with lingering mineral aromas. Then in the palate, it is fully accompanied by jabs of cherries and leather, followed by some very soft tannins.
2007 Fasi Vineyard Syrah, Madera: From an all organic vineyard comes this Syrah, expressing floral and earthy aromas. In the mouth you enjoy hints of cola, anise, and simple notes of mushroom. This wine is ready to drink now and will make any lamb dish come to life.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi: Explosive notes of bright, red cherry aromas laced with hints of vanilla. It is full bodied with lots of concentrated ripe fruits. The tannins are very well integrated, almost chewy, but finish very well.
2007 Branches-Available Only at Our Tasting Room: The fruit used for this blend comes from the Peterson Vineyard located in Lodi, CA. The Cabs that are produced from this vineyard are known for having a deep concentration in fruit and intensity, all the while being guided by mature and soft tannins. Branches offers all of the mentioned qualities and more. It has aromas of blackberries laced with ripe cherries. A toasty finish that is well integrated with a lush mouth feel. Will cellar, but ready to drink now.
Throughout the year, the Wine Tasting Room is open on Fridays from 2 to 7 p.m., and from Noon to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. During the holiday season, however, the room will be open seven days a week until December 23rd.
“We may change our hours beginning in January,” said Jennifer. “We want to see what kind of traffic that we get. We want to be open when our customers want us to be open.” The Ramos Torres Wine Tasting Room is located at 1665 Simpson St. Kingsburg, CA 93631. The phone number is (559) 419-9159. For more info check out their website.