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Salamandre Wine Cellars

Salamandre Wine Cellars Tucked into a shaded redwood canyon two miles from the beaches of Aptos, Salamandre Wine Cellars crafts wines with old fashioned hand labor and grapes picked in the cheerful spirit of friendship and respect. Chardonnays were our passion when we opened our small family winery in 1985, and we remain intrigued by the differences between small vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Arroyo Seco. Red wines, however, provide a greater test of creativity in the cellar and versatility on the table. We also find that the wines we stash in our backpacks are invariably red. Merlot and Pinot Noir have become consistently popular for us, but we have always enjoyed experimenting with new varieties and new styles. These explorations always teach us something we wouldn't have learned doing the same thing every year, and sometimes we celebrate with delicious results. We made the shameless original Cardinal Zin in 1987, uplifting "Temblor" in 1989, rare Carmine in 1990, and now offer ravishing Primitivo and swashbuckling Syrah (You bet Shiraz!) from a precocious vineyard in sunny Southern Monterey County. Winemaker Wells Shoemaker and partner Dave South use intensive traditional methods by choice - and, yes, by necessity - while striving to make elegant wines in the Mersault style. Because of our small scale (in truth, lizards have scales but salamanders don't) our wines are hard to find East of the Santa Cruz Mountain ridge line. We do host periodic Open Houses, for which you'll need a mailing list invitation and a map. We are delighted to participate in the Annual Santa Cruz Mountains Vintners' Festival in June.


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Address Web Social
108 Don Carlos Drive, Aptos, CA, US, 95003 Email:
Phone: 831-685-0321 Web:
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  Chardonnay Arroyo Seco
I loved this Chardonnay in the barrel for its lush tropical and citrusy fruit. Bottled unfiltered to preserve delicacy, it has a touch of oak and the acidity and body to mature in 2006. Silver Medal ‘05.
  Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco
Silver Medal - Santa Cruz Mountains Commercial Wine Competition
  Don Carlos Red Red Table Wine
Silver Medal - 2004 Santa Cruz Mountains Commercial Wine Competition
  Ménage à Trois
Smirking threesome of Primitivo, Merlot, and Syrah keeping carnal secrets after 2 years in a dark corner of the cellar. Too charming to be credibly moral, but discreet at least through dinner. Everybody should try it once.
  Ménage à Trois
Younger and more tannic than the 2001, with inky depth and intriguing vanilla notes. Go ahead, indulge your curiosity. After all, it’s a natural temptation, and we’ll understand. Same price through April.
  Merlot, Arroyo Seco
Silver Medal - 2004 Santa Cruz Mountains Commercial Wine Competition
  Pinot Noir , Dijon Clones, Arroyo Seco
Best Wine of Show, 2004 Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Competition. Pinot is the Santa Cruz Mountains’ Holy Grail varietal. This was the best Pinot of an elite and pricey field in 2004, and …now it’s better. Dark and exceptionally muscular for Pinot, yet with plenty of natural acidity to capture a cascade of black cherry, pomegranate, and exotic spice aromas.
  Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco
This wine may carry even more fruit than our Best Of Show 2002 Pinot, with a lithe dancer’s body to entice Pinot perfectionists. Layers of flavors emerge over time and linger like your first kiss. Silver medal in ‘05
  Primitivo, Late Harvest
We’ve made roughly 250 wines over Salamandre’s 21 years, and this is my favorite of them all. The 2003 Primitivo was harvested late and very sweet. The natural fermentation tried valiantly but surrendered with 7% sugar remaining in the wine. We treated it like Port over 2 years in the barrel, and it’s finally time to greet the world. It fills the room with jubilant fruitiness when someone pulls the cork. Serve this glass full of hedonism only to someone you love. Fashion your own dessert.
  Primitivo, Los Lobos
These Calabrian armwrestlers need 2 years in barrel and another few in bottle to behave in public. Intense berry flavors and “forever” aftertaste. Primitivo is my favorite full moon rising wine, dune dancing wine, Escalante kayaking wine, waterfall splashing wine, thunder crashing wine, I can’t believe you really said that wine, still in love with you wine, I feel it too wine.
  Sauvignon Blanc, Ventana Vineyard
The rare Musqu é clone from Ventana Vineyard in Arroyo Seco features complex melon and ripe fig aromas. Hint of oak, no apologies, no pretense. Pura vida. Elegant with seafood. Silver Medal ‘05
  Syrah, Los Lobos
Like its predecessors—concentrated, almost jammy raspberry fruit with earthy notes and black pepper. This brash fellow parks on the red curb, yields the right of way only when he feels like it, voids where prohibited, and refuses to wear a necktie in court. Serve with something brazenly spiced.
  Syrah, Monterey
Silver Medal - 2004 Santa Cruz Mountains Commercial Wine Competition


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