Limerick Lane Winery
This is a new chapter in long history of the Bilbro family. And it is unfolding as a very exciting chapter. The principal actors are Jake & Scot Bilbro.
The saga starts back in the 1978 when their father, Chris Bilbro (Christo), founded Marietta Cellars (MariettaCellars.com) in Hopland w/ some 30 acres of vnyds, plus numerous other vnyd sources, including the CollinsVnyd on LimerickLane. Marietta rapidly established a reputation for high-quality wines at very fair prices. In particular, their OldVineRed has been termed the best red wine value in Calif for many yrs.
Jake started out at Marietta in 2000, when I first met him, as the Marietta go-fer. With his stunningly good looks and gift of gab, he rapidly advanced to National Marketing Director and then to President. But go-fer is still a major part of his Marietta duties. In 2012, Scot & Jake bought out their Dad in Marietta. But Dad did not go quietly into the night. He still is involved in the blending decisions and offers up advice to the kids when he feels they need it. Which, I suspect, is often.
The Marietta line has been scaled back to (mainly) OldVineRed (now on Lot#65), plus Arme (a Cabernet-based blend), Christo (a Syrah-based blend), and Angeli Cuvee (a mostly a Zin-based blend). Arme and Christo are real steals. All four represent some of the best values in Calif wine around.
Marietta owns vnyds in the Alexander Valley, in Hopland in the Ukiah Valley, and in the Yorkville Highlands of Mendocino. Most exciting, in 2012, the Bilbros purchased the McDowell Valley Vnyd just east of Hopland. On this property is the old Gibson Ranch, planted back in the 1910's. It includes both Grenache and Grenache Gris. More importantly, it has the oldest block of Syrah in Calif. In the late '70's, winemaker George Bursick crafted some of the greatest Syrahs ever made in Calif. Under Jake & Scot, it will, once again, return to making one of Calif's greatest Syrahs, eventually.
The LimerickLane Wnry was started in the mid-'70's by Mike Collins, when he & his brother bought the vnyd first planted in 1910. The wnry name comes not from the famous doggerel known as a limerick (extra points if you can identify who invented the limerick and where the name came from) but the name of the road upon which it is located, LimerickLane. Lime ricks were once rather common in the area for producing lime. Collins made a number of outstanding Zins from those grapes over the years. The vnyd is mostly Zinfandel, interplanted in a field blend w/ old-timey Calif varieties (Alicante/Peloursin/Negrette/PetiteSirah/Carignane/Syrah/Mourvedre).
In the late 2000's, Collins was interested in selling the property. In 2011, Jake & Scot finally purchased the property. The winery is located right on the vnyd property. The vnyd is now farmed by Steve Mathiasson, one of the most meticulous vnyd consultants in Calif. They use most of their grapes in their LimerickLane label, but sell a small amount to this cabal of fanatic Zin producers: Carlisle/Bedrock/Novy/Mathiasson/Biale.
Recently, Jake and Scott have separated the businesses with Scot having responsibility for Marietta and Jake for LimerickLane. So...after 16 yrs, Jake is finally freed of the go-fer yoke at Marietta. Not sure if that's a promotion or not.
But there is more: Mike Collins was fascinated with the wines of Tokaji in Hungary, which is mostly Furmint and a little Harslevelu. In the early '90's, he planted a small block of these two varieties. He hoped to make a dessert-style Tokaji, but botrytis is not common on Limerick Lane, and it was made mostly as a dry wine. When Jake & Scot purchased Limerick Lane, they received very strict instructions from wine personages that the Furmint was not to be pulled out, or there would be consequences. So they have continued to make a dry Furmint under the Limerick Lane label. In September, a btl was shown to Heidi Schrock, one of the best producers of Furmint in the Burgenland of Austria. She pronunced it as “excellent” and shared the rest of the btl with her two sons.
Most of the LimerickLane wines are made in small quantities. You can gain access to them by signing up for the LL mailing list at: www.limericklanewines.com
They come out about twice a year and allocations can be quite restricted. But a LosAlamos address seems to carry a lot of weight w/ the LL allocation gods.
There's yet another actor in this Bilbro saga. Jake & Scot have a younger brother, Sam Bilbro. He took off on his own tangent when he founded Idlewild Cellars (www.IdleWildWines.com
), specializing in Italian varietals. His Arneis and Cortese are world-class examples of those varietals. Most of his grapes come from the FoxHill Vnyd in Mendocino. His winery is located in Geyserville, home of Divaola Pizzeria, who makes some of the greatest pizzas in the UsofA. Hopefully, we can attract Sam to do a winemaker dinner at Pig+Fig in the future.
As an aside, Jake has a son named Cruz. He charmed the socks off of me when I met him several yrs ago on a tour of their Gibson Ranch in McDowell Valley/Mendocino County. Cruz is one of the Nation's experts on tractors. He is partial to the orange Kubota over the ugly-green John Deere.
To make tonight's evening special, there is a contest. The prize will be a bottle of Limerick Lane Cllrs wine from my stash. The winner will be the person who can write the most clever limerick for Limerick Lane Cellars. Extra points will be awarded for the most bawdy limerick...”There once was a young man from Nantucket....” It will most certainly be used in the National marketing program for Limerick Lane. Fame & fortune is certain to follow the winner. At the end of the evening after dessert, there will be a recitation by all contestants of their limerick.
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man,
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.
Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
Where he still held the cash as an asset,
But Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran,
And as for the bucket, Manhasset.
My Limerick Lane limerick
Extra points awarded for bawdiness. Points deducted for groaners.