Wine is made just about everywhere nowadays. From Virginia to India, Buffalo to Queens, grapes are being grown, crushed, fermented, and consumed. As widespread as winemaking had become, good wine is usually still restricted to the popular grape growing regions. An exception to the rule is Moraga Vineyards, situated on 16 acres smack dab in the middle of LA. The Moraga â€˜Redâ€™, has been compared to age worthy first growth Bordeauxâ€™s and highly praised by critics Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson.
Planted in 1978, Moraga consists of 10 small vineyards (15,000 vines) in the Bel Air hills. Ownerâ€™s Ruth and Tom Jones have been making wine on the estate since the late 80â€™s. Originally a horse ranch, Jones got the idea to plant grapes when he realized the soil shared similarities to soil in Bordeaux; to be exact, a calcareous sandstone- a result of LAâ€™s basin beingÂ under the ocean for millions of years. The accommodating microclimate in Bel Air provides cooler nights and more rainfall than other parts of LA.
In 2005, Moraga became the first commercial winery in LA to be bonded since the 20â€™s. Before then, the first few vintagesÂ were hauled up to Napa and vinified by former Etude winemaker, Tony Soter. Moraga makes two wines, â€˜Redâ€™ and â€˜Whiteâ€™. Having only tasted the 1993 vintage of Red, I can say I have never tasted such complex and thoughtful wine come out of California. In a blind tasting, one could easily mistake Moraga as a first growth Bordeaux. The White has been compared toÂ white from Graves.
Early praise, low production (700 cases), and mystique have led Moraga to become highly sought after wine. Only 5 retailers carry Moraga, all of which are in the LA area. Moraga can also be found on the wine lists of fine dining restaurants such as Bouchon, 21 Club, CafÃ© Boulud, and Jean Georges.
While not cheap, red retails around $125 white around $75, the wine is a must try for oenophiles. OR the next time you are at Gotham, order a bottle, and bet your ibanker friend that he canâ€™t guess the appellation!