I’m Allergic to Cats

I am often label driven when it comes to buying wine.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you know it’s true.  

When I like a particular wine, the label does not affect my purchasing decision.  I just buy it.

However, when I am in the market for something new, I will often gravitate towards the label I find most interesting or entertaining.  I always hope the effort poured into label creation also went into crafting the wine.  However, I know that does not always hold true, but one can hope right?

Since I am allergic to cats, purchasing a wine with whimsical kittens on the label is unlikely.  There would be no connection.

Due to the sneezing, scratching and coughing fits I experience when a feline is present, I have never bonded with kitties. 

I have no idea what it means to befriend a cat and never will.

So I’d be honest in saying I would have never bought this wine had I seen it on the shelf!  Just looking at it makes the roof of my mouth itch.

2005 Vine Hill Gatos Locos Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains $29

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I attended an auction where many wines were available for bidding as well as many wineries on site pouring their newest releases.

I came upon the table of Vine Hill Winery where Vine Hill’s sales manager was pouring their wine to auction guests.  He was extremely personable and we had a long conversation about the challenges of making Pinot Noir and the financial implications behind it.

He offered me a glass of the above wine (I still hadn’t seen the label) and it was exquisite.  It is definitely a wine many Pinot lovers gravitate towards; fruit forward and well balanced.

What stood out most were the red fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberries.  There is a slight spicy note in the background but it is really overpowered by the big berry flavors found in this wine’s profile.

I loved it. When I found this wine was available for bidding.  I made sure it came home with me.

A whole case.  Score!

The Santa Cruz Mountain appellation is a broad growing area marked by diverse microclimates.  The eastern, more inland, side is warmer where varietals such as Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are cultivated.  The cooler, western side, that is cooled by maritime influences is where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme.

If you have ever visited the Santa Cruz Mountain growing area you know how special it is.  Many wineries are set on ridgelines with sweeping views of the surrounding areas.  It is truly breathtaking .

The owners of Vine Hill Winery were a group of friends who started making wine in their garage, entering their wines in county fair competitions.  The wine was named after their two lazy cats that hung out in the garage as they crafted their vintages.

Eventually they were able to purchase an outstanding property in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation and the rest is history.

Ultimately this reiterated the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”.  Because as I said, I would have never bought this wine because of the label.

I hope you can find it in your area and of course it is available at the winery.

Did anyone out there have anything inspiring to drink last night?  I’d love to know.

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  1. *sigh* Iced tea. Trying to fit into my summer sweatpants. *sigh*

  2. grace 2

    cats are really only worthwhile when they’re cute little kittens anyway. when they grow up, they get lazy and demanding and fat. yes, it’s cats, cats i’m talking about here. just cats. :)

  3. Stacy 3

    Last night I had an Italian apple martini–awesome! And this past weekend, I drank two bottles of wine. Martini & Rossi Asti, which I would bathe in if it weren’t so expensive.

    This weekend I’m going to Shenandoah Valley in VA to tour the wineries. I’m so excited, and this post is making me all antsy to go now!

  4. Elle 4

    To drink last night? Only iced tea. And I confess to buying wines with nice labels.

  5. Like I said before, if I saw this at my wine store, I’d buy it just for the label alone.

    What a great story behind the wine! I love that it started with them making it in their garage then buying land for a vineyard. That’s just awesome.

    I think I may get some of this for my husband for his birthday, that is if I can find it back here!

  6. Last night; water. I promise I am still in the market to acquire the taste for wine…I have a New Year’s Resolution to uphold!

    I’m guilty to judge a book (not wine…but I could see why, one would take the label in consideration) by it’s cover…it’s awful, but I can’t help it. If the jacket calls me to it…I open it up and read one paragraph, and if it flows, it’s mine for the reading.

  7. Farley 7

    I actually encountered this winery last year, when I was thinking of leaving Thomas Fogarty Winery (another great SCM producer). I drove down an unpaved road, my low car hugging the rocks and potholes, to try a few of these wines. They were quite good, but not worth that crazy drive on a regular basis.

  8. Last night was Rosenblum Cellars – Zinfandel. One of my faves! I lOVE this wine!!!! Goes great with dark chocolate….

  9. Heh heh. You’re a wine geek. I knew I liked you. I have enjoyed a few glasses of Los Gatos in my day. Last night, was iced tea with a shot of amaretto.

  10. Vonda 10

    Ice water was about as exciting as I got last night. That wine sounds delicious…I am learning so much from this blog. Those cats…heh. I hope by drinking this it helps to build your immunity towards cats.

  11. ALF 11

    Last night I only had water to drink. I didn’t even have my usual chocolate milk for dessert nevermind a glass of wine.

    I would totally buy wine with the cutest label. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

  12. Liz C. 12

    I never dreamed that I would ever know much more about wine than the fact I just liked the way it tastes. You, my friend have slowly been educating me and I’m loving it!

    By the way, I was able to buy a case of *Bitch* last weekend in Austin. I was so excited that I nearly wet my pants. Now that I’ve tasted it, I’m going to have a difficult time giving it away.

    So, I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, lol.

    Anyway, we had a bottle last night with our Bison steaks and we loved it!!!

  13. Cathy 13

    I am so glad you finally found it!  It really is good isn’t it?

    Thanks for letting me know and for everyone else here is the link to what Liz is referring to:

    link to noblepig.com

  14. I appreciate learning more about your new find and the wine suggestion. I’ll keep an eye out for this brand here in Kansas City. I have to confess though, like you, when I’m in a carefree, adventurous mood–I’ll choose an unknown wine by the appeal of the label and pay no attention to ratings. Sure I’ve been burned once or twice by these shenanigans, but at least it’s been an enjoyable fire.

  15. Neen 15

    I’m so glad the Pinot turned out fabulous. I’ve gotten burned a few too many times on overly insipid ones, but I’m still out there trying! We had a blend the other night (“Menage a Trois”, if you can believe it) that was actually divine. What did the dude at the auction say about the financial implications of growing Pinot?
    As for labels, Do’s father is the worst: he will purposely buy a wine with some god-awful pun or a dragon or pirate or somethng. Needless to say, these rarely turn out to be the best bottles in town! Sigh…

  16. hmmm… I have recenlty learned I think I am a big fan of Pinot Noir. I’m wondering – is this a strong tasting one… I don’t know all the fancy words… do you know what I mean?

  17. Deb 17

    I am a label shopper also and only have been disappointed a few times. What a score on this one! Sounds yummy. I will have to make note of it and see if I can get it when I am on the mainland in a couple of weeks!

  18. Crazy cat? Who would have thought?

    I”m so happy your eyes didn’t swell up just looking at it!

    I had skim milk last night (w/double fudge cookies)

  19. I am so glad to hear that my method of selecting wine, which mainly involves looking for the nicest label within my price range, is not totally screw ball. I don’t know a lot about wine but love to drink it, so I’m totally looking forward to learning more… and drinking more… and learning more….

  20. Flea 20

    I love the label with the crazy cats. :)

    I had a cinnamon coffee latte last night. Well, late afternoon. Before I remembered that I had Adderall XR coursing through my system and I’d forgotten to specify decaf, at which point I put the latte in the refrigerator.

  21. I don’t drink wine with or without cats. But I am glad you got a good one.

  22. annbb 22

    When your idea of a good (note I’m not saying fine) wine is Bear Mountain Fat Cat from Trader Joe’s, it’s an indication you shouldn’t be bidding on fine wine at auction. How does one go about developing a palate when the wine of choice is any a little better than decent Chardonnay?
    I really do admire your vintner knowledge. (and I don’t even think ~vintner~ is the correct word!)

    Your blog is just the bomb as usual!

  23. I just wanta go to Santa Cruz and hang out and cruz the wineries, and have fu7n and eat at Palmerros downtow on the strip, they make handmade corn tortillas and their swordfish is to die for. They have such good food.
    I have a friend in Branciforte who is an awesome stained galss artist if you need any winey windows.

  24. Thanks for that! I’m going to keep an eye out for the ‘kitty wine’ now 😉 (But then I love cats anyway, heh)

  25. Julena Jo 25

    I always love the wine they have at Mass when I go. I know nothing about wine except that this is wonderful, wonderful wine. I’m sure it’s the exact same kind Jesus changed the water into. Wish I knew what it is. I’d buy a case! Meanwhile, I’ll just look for kitty wine. *meow*

  26. I’m so pleased to run across this post… I’m the guy who (for better or worse) created the painting for the Gatos Locos bottle. :)

    Little story… the cat with the umbrella was inspired by a street performer here in Santa Cruz who slowly walked from one end of our outdoor mall to the other, in heavy makeup and bright clothes, slowly twirling a cheery umbrella.

    For those of you who like the label, yay! (and thank you!)

    For those who don’t (for whatever reason – I totally get the allergy thing… hopefully these little guys didn’t cause too much discomfort) don’t let it stop you from trying this great wine.

    Thanks, and cheers!


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