Clos de la Tech a true Silicon Valley startup takes winemaking to a new level. The bucolic setting in Woodside is inspired by vineyards in Europe. Vines cling to the steep hillsides struggling to produce luscious fruit.
Pinot Noir is a passion for T.J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, who wanted to create wine that would rival those from his favorite wineries in Burgundy. Applying a Silicon Valley mindset to selecting rootstock and clones, planting on steep terrain, and creating a world-class winemaking operation resulted in success but not without some challenges.
Steep slopes and closely planted vines make it impossible to use standard farming equipment. Rodgers convinced a German manufacturer to make a special piece of equipment that could traverse the steep slope and the narrow rows.
World-class wine deserves a modern winemaking facility. Three caves were excavated into the hill to serve as fermentation, barrel and bottling operations. The winery utilizes gravity-flow which reduces agitation to the grapes during harvest and ultimately creates a higher quality of wine. Strolling through the fermentation cave, one can’t help but notice the gleaming stainless steel piping giving the look of a high-tech manufacturing facility.
After traipsing through the vineyards and touring the caves we finally got to sample the wine we had heard so much about. The limited production wine is in its eighth vintage. Apparently 2008 was a good year for Clos de la Tech. The Domaine du Docteur Rodgers Pinot Noir tasted of red fruit with a plum and mint bouquet while the Domaine Valeta Pinot Noir exhibited subtle red fruit flavors. Domaine Lois Louise Twisty Ridge Pinot Noir had rich black fruit aromas. As we worked our way through the tasting our understanding of the terroir helped us to truly appreciate these wines.
Each bottle is adorned with a chip produced at Cypress Semiconductor, a nod to technology that impacts our daily life, the same chips used in personal computers. At the company it becomes a competition for which chip is selected for the current vintage. The wine labels are reminiscent of Rodgers favorite wines of France.
The winemaking facility isn’t open to the public but you can sample Clos de la Tech wine at Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company or order a bottle at restaurants such as Dio Deka, Donato Enoteca, La Balena, or Village Pub.
Details: Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company pours Clos de la Tech and sixty wines by the glass. They also offer cheese plates to accompany the wine. Knowledgeable staff are happy to assist customers to select the perfect wine to please individual palates. They are located at 421 Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Open daily Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They also sell wine, cheese and gift baskets.
©Karla Erovick 2013 article, photos
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