Yesterday we had the treat of being invited to the Dehlinger pick-up weekend by one of the winemakers, who Joe used to work with. I had never been to the facility - a very unobtrusive building that reminds me very much of Anderson Valley. No bling. No flare. Just a practical facility for making wine.
We sampled the 2005 Pinot Noir, a 2000 Pinot Noir, two of their Chardonnays, a Syrah and their Claret. I have to say, I was impressed. There were no hard angles on these wines, nothing out of place. They were well balanced, oak was obviously a winemaking tool and not a major flavor component, they drank well but still had moderate acidities and the fruit was evident in both the nose, mouth and finish. (Too many wines these days have completely muted and blank noses, even after early release bottle shock is over - it's one of my pet peeves. Our wines will always smell like something, I promise.)
I loved the 2000 Pinot Noir especially, as it had aged gracefully and was displaying some delicious earth notes alongside the berry fruit.
The atmosphere was more a locals' gathering place than allocated winery party. The food was delicious but fairly simple, and buckets were placed on the group for spitting and dumping, alongside "take your own glass" racks.
I promptly signed up to be placed on the list. Who knows how long it will take to actually get an allocation, but you can't go wrong when you like every single wine being poured.