3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard
As I sit down with Joe Hurliman, winemaker at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, it dawns on him that it was, almost to this day, 19 years ago, that he joined Herzog. Back then it was producing 150,000 cases of wine, a staggering amount, thus making it the largest winery in Ventura County. As of now, it’s a quarter of a million cases distributed to all 50 states and beyond.
Herzog is known not only for its ubiquitous wines, but also its award-winning restaurant, Terra Sur. “Being in Oxnard has been very well-received,” Hurliman said. As you drive onto the Herzog property it’s a massive facility, and the boxy exterior gives no clue as to what’s inside. Once the doors open, the tasting bar is a square space filled with high ceilings and plenty of room. You can stay at the bar or sit at one of the nearby tables, the din of the restaurant nearby. If a tour is something you’ve never done, a walk through the facilities is a must to get a feel for a working winery. The Herzog portfolio is kosher, but what does that mean exactly?
“People are always interested in, or have misconceptions about, what kosher wines actually means,” said Hurliman. So what is it? “It’s a Sabbath-observing individual who understands kosher dietary law overseeing the process.” Pretty simple and uncomplicated. Bottle prices range from $10 to $250 and there’s such a massive selection, you’ll definitely find something that suits you.
Tasting good right now, the 2015 chenin blanc with 20 percent viognier added in is all dried apricot, honeysuckle, white peach and pear, a simple and clean wine. There is also a 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay from Sonoma with 30 percent new oak, and 10 months of sur lie aging (meaning the dead yeast cells during fermentation have not been removed yet, which adds complexity and viscosity to the wine), resulting in flavors of green apple, soft butter, sweet vanilla-resin and a mild acidity.
An unusual wine that Hurliman loves is called Camouflage, a young red with a mere three weeks of oak aging, meaning that this is light with focused tangy red fruit like cranberry, blue- and blackberry, black raspberries, dusty nutmeg and a bright acidity.
“Wine is supposed to be enjoyed and to make connections with people,” Hurliman said. So get connected and head to Herzog.