By Kimberly Horg
A hop, skip and jump (13 miles) from Yosemite, Idle Hour Winery is nestled on a wooded area in Oakhurst next to Queen’s Inn, both are owned by Deb Payne and winemaker Anna Marie dos Remedios.
Remedios attended UC Davis to study Viticulture. In 2006 she was bonded as a winemaker and shortly thereafter Idle Hour opened in 2008. Remedios was born in Hong Kong and lived there until she was five years old. That is where she got the name Idle Hour. It came from her grandfather’s boat and his way of life, his Idle Hour. “Idle hour is a state of being. For me it is a relaxing moment in life that I can share with my family,” she said.
The hotel next door, Queen’s Inn by the River, is named after Payne’s grandmother, “Queen.” The property was bought by her grandparents in 1964 and was renovated by her family. They feature live music every month at its wine bar.
Remedios moved to the area from the central coast. After a career in Journalism, she started making wine as a home winemaker for herself, deciding she was making too much for one person alone. “I always wanted to make wine,” she said. “I am true to my way I make wine. My wine is like my children.”
This year she has produced 2,200 cases of wine, her biggest production year yet. She says her winemaking process is usually slow because she doesn’t pump her wines. She has a reductive style of winemaking. Her reds go to press, to the barrel and age on sediment. She sits on the wine before she sells it. Right now she is preparing the 2011 vintage wines.
Idle doesn’t make enough to distribute large amounts. It is distributed in Morro Bay, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. The winery will soon be shipping its wines to the East Coast including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Washington D.C.
Most of her wine is made from grapes grown on a single vineyard in the area, although her flagship Tempranillo is made from grapes grown in Clarksburg, near the Sacramento delta. “I think the 2011 Tempranillo is the best wine I have ever made,” Remedios said.
The Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo are her biggest award winners, both wining gold medals at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
The 2012 Tempranillo is done now but is still in sediment and is not racked. She also makes a popular Vioigner, which is the winery’s flagship white wine.
According to Remedios, in 2011 and 2012 the wine was aromatic with not a large amount of alcohol. The most aromatic was the 2010 Syrah. It came straight from the press and is not high in alcohol.
“I take a minimalist approach to making wine,” she said. She uses native yeast, gravity flow and doesn’t filter the wine. There is a lot of consistency in the body of the wine. She makes the same varietal but it is slightly different every year. “I don’t have a strict protocol, I balance the fruit that I am given,” she said. She says there is more freedom this way. She understands why mass produced winemakers have to look at the same acidity and ph but she doesn’t. Nor does she have an agenda or a long-term contract.
This winemaker enjoys tasting her wine in the barrel to see if it is ready. It is a frill in a small production. “There is a luxury in making wine the way I do. There is as little manipulation as possible and I don’t have to look at the numbers,” Remedios said.
She tells the wine club members to expect a little different. The 2012 Syrah is smooth and the Petite Syrah has a smooth dryness to it whereas the Pinot Noir is light, smooth and goes down easy.
“I love how Anna lets her wine create its own personalities. She embraces what they become,” Nikko Mizuna, Idle Hour customer and Oakhurst resident, said.
Idle Hour is small with just three women running the winery. Kristin Albertsons started out working in the tasting room and is now just starting to make wine with Remedios. “It is a lot of fun,” Albertsons said. “It is a job that many people would kill for because I am learning from Anna and she is very talented.” Remedios’ brother in law, Tim Cantor, is the artist who designs her labels.
Oakhurst is not a wine tasting destination but there is a strong following locally. The owners say there has been a lot of community support.
Sam Aguilar, Sommelier at Erna’s Elderberry House Restaurant & Chateau du Sureau in Oakhurst, said, “There is a labor of love in here all the time. Anna is the most personable person you can ever meet and is just getting started.”
According to Remedios, the wine she is producing not only makes sense but is also a good value for the quality of wine. She strives to make the best-balanced wine with the grapes she is working with.
Idle wine can be found in a couple locations in Oakhurst and in Fresno or purchased off their website, idlehourwinery.com. Future plans include the possibility of opening a second tasting room in Carmel. Idle Hour is located at 41139 Highway 41 in Oakhurst. For tasting hours call (559) 683-4354.
Featured Image at top: Winemaker Anna Marie dos Remedios with her award winning wines in Idle Hour’s tasting room. Photo by Kimberly Horg