Brand Spotlight: Artezin Wines Farmers Market Lunch With Winemaker Randall Johnson
There's nothing better than being invited to explore your own backyard. Getting to meet phenomenal people who have shaped the Napa Valley, a place I call home, is absolutely priceless! Recently I was treated to a one of a kind experience while being introduced to Artezin wines. Artezin wines are a brand of sustainably made wines from all over Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lodi, pretty much anywhere with phenomenal fruit ! Winemaker Randall Johnson created the brand while working as the Head Winemaker of The Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder. He loved making Zinfandel, but with the popularity of Cabernet and a Zinfandel already produced under the Hess label, he felt additional Zinfandel options wouldn't fit under the Hess Collection label. He always found that there was a really specific art to making Zinfandel and additionally that art really started in those specific vineyards sites he sourced from. He decided it would be perfect to create a label off exactly what he was doing creating artesian wines, ergo Artezin was created (translates The Art of Zinfandel).
Loved meeting these gals ! Nikki from Fresh Chef Nikki and Cynthia from Confetti Kitchen these ladies you need to be following, they both write epic food blogs and are based on the bay ! My girl Jess Lander from 7x7 and Napa Register is not only a personal friend but my go to media buddy for everything Napa !
We were treated to a tasting of two Zinfandels from the Artezin label, the Mendocino and Collins Vineyard designates and then a real treat, Charbono ! If you haven't heard of Charbono before, that's totally fine, it's a pretty unknown grape and less than 40 acres are planted to Charbono in Napa Valley. There are a handful of producers in the Calistoga AVA who still produce it to this day; Summers Winery, Vincent Arroyo and my newly discovered favorite; Artezin !
The day was pretty magical, we started with an introduction to Randall and the team organizing our day (thanks ladies!!), we all piled into a beautiful tour bus to head to the St. Helena Farmers Market to select foods we would later use to create a "Farmers Market Lunch," to pair with Artezin Wines. We all ran around carefully selecting the best produce we could, my tasks: 8 Lemon Cucumbers and 2 lbs of Mixed Mushrooms (later used in a delicious duck dish that paired with the Collins Vineyard Zinfandel). While we didn't actually have to cook the food, we did gather all the ingredients and while the chef did all the hard work, we tasted wines and went for a little tour of their vineyard and gardens.
My favorite part of the day was probably meeting Randall's wife Mary Lee, she helped with the laughs, especially her opening line when we all went to snap a picture together, she says "Okay say, Sex or Cheese, whichever you had last!" and there was not a dry eye in the place ! Real smiles were captured by all. It's really pretty neat to see a couple like Randall and Mary Lee, having fun, enjoying their life and hard work; it's truly what my husband and I aspire to! Having their house, vineyards, success and notoriety, well thank god we have another 30 years to prove ourselves in our work lives, because it could take even longer than that to match the stories and success Randall has had. He once went to France with Andre Tchelistcheff
to learn about pasteurization and how that knowledge could translate to making clean wines, if you don't know Andre I mentioned above, he was just one of the most famous Winemakers to ever step foot in Napa Valley, that's all!
Artezin wines can be tasted at The Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder and some of them can be found in stores, but mostly you can purchase whichever vineyard designate, varietal and quantity on line and have it shipped directly to your house ! Not mentioned earlier, but they also make a fantastic Albariño, which if you follow along, you know my love of white wine varietals, so if you were wondering what my favorite wine was.....
Make sure to check out Artezin wines HERE!