3 Tastes at Limerick Lane Cellars

I once met a friend in Healdsburg. She arrived at Limerick Lane Cellars with 7 family members and was late. She was set to run a Sunday race, so picked up her pace and met me at a winery she hadn’t planned.

While I sat in wait, I sipped on a Hungarian blended white wine poured from a German-styled bottle, shaped slim and tall, with green tinted glass. I don’t know why I didn’t buy a bottle or two, but my friend will later sip on her purchased bottles to tell the tale.

OK, so enough of the limerick-ish fodder. Limerick Lane Cellars was off the beaten path from the cute little downtown square in Healdsburg, but only a 5-minute worthwhile drive down a country road of vineyards. I actually had to stop in the middle of the road to allow a segway tour group time to motor to the other lane.

The zinfandel was elegant, missing the spice I love, but balanced and quite a lovely craft of Russian River Valley grapes. Finally, the blend of syrah-grenache was a nice change of pace, as were the other two tastes, making a trip to this obscure winery worth the drive.

Following our excursion, lunch downtown at HBG (Healdsburg Bar & Grill) was inexpensive and delicious. Might I suggest the burger or cubano with a cold Lagunitas?

History of Limerick Lane Cellars, as told on the website:

Once known as The Boreen, an old Irish word meaning a small, unpaved country road, Limerick Lane has been home to small farms and vineyards for more than a century.

The Del Fava family planted our oldest currently producing vineyard in 1910. Without the benefit of modern scientific methods now used to determine the best soils and sites, the Del Favas were the first to recognize the rare potential of this small, enclosed microclimate just south of Healdsburg.

In the mid-1970’s, the Del Fava family sold to brothers Michael and Tom Collins. Like the Del Favas, the Collins brothers saw the potential inherent at Limerick Lane. They brought tremendous passion and enthusiasm to the property, overseeing the planting of twenty-five acres of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Grenache–the iconic Collins Vineyard. In addition the Collins brothers replanted and improved the existing vineyards, creating demand for their grapes at preeminent wineries De Loach, Chateau Souverain, Ravenswood, Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell.

By 2009, Mike Collins was ready to sell, but was unwilling to see the beautiful old vines and all his hard work absorbed into a corporation or fall into the hands of investors just out to make a quick buck. Instead, he approached Jake Bilbro and asked if Jake would like to buy Limerick Lane Cellars and the Collins Vineyard. Jake, a member of a family renowned for principled vineyard stewardship and sustainable winemaking, grew up in the business at Marietta Cellars, founded by his father Chris in 1978. The chance to own Limerick Lane–a place from which his father, among others, had sourced exceptional fruit–was so exciting Jake spent two years pitching nearly every bank in California. One day before harvest began in 2011, a local bank in Healdsburg finally agreed to give him the loan.

Only the third owner in the estate’s 106-year history, Jake brings modern farming and winemaking techniques to the inimitable fruit that only the historic Collins Vineyard can produce and creates wines that live up to the heritage that preceded him–wines noted not only for their exceptional balance and elegance, but with a specific sense of history and place as well.

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