Relax the Night Away at the Cedar View Winery and B&B
Gallery: More Photos [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
Wine DownDecember 2015
By Jordan Venema
Photos: Jacki Potorke
It’s not often somebody finds fortune at the bottom of an empty bottle, but maybe, just maybe, Jim and Debbie Van Haun are the lucky couple that did. The Van Hauns are the owners and operators of Sanger’s Cedar View Winery, and these vintners aren’t just about turning grapes into wine, but then wine into gold medals – their flagship Alicante Bouschet recently won 94 points out of a possible 100 at the California State Fair.
The Orange County couple who retired to the Central Valley may not be strangers to a good bottle of wine, but they didn’t imagine they’d find success making their own. Says Jim Van Haun, who belonged to the Orange County Wine Society, “I had a knowledge of wine, especially drinking it, but had no knowledge of actually making it.”
Though from Orange County, Jim wasn’t unfamiliar with the Sanger area. He used to guide whitewater rafting up on the Kings River, “so I kind of knew this area peripherally.” Then in 1998, the Van Hauns bought 20 acres in Sanger with a commanding view of the Sequoias, which also had 10 acres of vineyards.
Their original plan to open a bed and breakfast always included the idea of a winery – back in the mind, says Jim. They opened Sequoia View Bed and Breakfast in 2001, but the winery took a little longer due to permits.
“It took some work because the county had never permitted a bed and breakfast before, so they didn’t know what to do with us,” he says. Once they had the permit for the B&B and began operations, they still had 10 acres of grapes, “so we made wine as amateurs and gave it away, then came to the realization that having a winery with a bed and breakfast – it’s not one plus one equals two, it’s one plus one equals five.” In other words, the sum was greater than its parts.
“So we built a building in 2003 to house a winery, and now we have more than 300 wine club members, and we’re making upwards of 20,000 bottles a year, mostly local,” says Jim.
What began with appreciation and amateur winemaking soon became an award-winning winery, which mostly bottles rare varietals from the Rhone region of southern France. Some of those grapes might be unfamiliar to the casual wine-drinker, like Viognier and Rousanne, but Cedar View Winery also bottles Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.
But if you thought the more rare wines wouldn’t have reached anything other than refined palates, you’d be wrong. In their short history, Cedar View has won more than 100 medals, and was recently “voted the best wine in the entire region,” says Jim. “A lot of folks say we make the best wine within 100 miles,” he chuckles, “and we kind of think we do, too.” Plus they have the awards to back that up, even medals from international competitions.
Their flagship wine, of which they have five acres dedicated to the grape, is the Alicante Bouschet, which has to age at least three years. Though a more rare varietal, the Van Hauns sell a bottle for only $21. Their most expensive bottle is $25. “In Paso, that bottle would cost $50, but this isn’t Napa, this isn’t Paso, and we have to reflect the prices where we live,” says Jim.
That price extends to their wine tasting, which costs a whopping $5 and includes a tasting of two whites, four reds and their gold medal port made from the Alicante Bouschet. You also get cheese and crackers, and if you buy two bottles of wine, the tasting is on the house. “Yeah, we waive that big $5 fee,” Jim says with a laugh.
Maybe the best part about wine tasting at Cedar View, should you tie one on, is the ability to stay at the Sequoia View B&B. Jims wife Debbie is the chef, and “she makes these gorgeous breakfasts,” says Jim. “This is a full breakfast: fresh peach frittata, homemade applesauce muffins, a meat dish, homemade orange juice freshly squeezed.” Their three suites range from $139 to $179 a night.
It’s hard not to leave the winery in a good mood. It’s basically part of the business model: no sour grapes. “Yeah, people don’t come wine tasting with a sour mood,” says Jim. “They’re coming to have a positive experience.”
It’s hard to argue with him, especially when you hear him describe the Viognier, “with a tremendous aroma of honeysuckle and peach and a little citrus on the back end.” Perfect, he calls it, for a warm day. As for his favorite wine, well, “that depends on the day of the week.” But that’s what wine tasting is for, right? The opportunity to find out for yourself, regardless of the day of the week.
Cedar View Winery • 1384 S. Frankwood Ave., Reedley
www.cedarviewwinery.com • (559) 787-9412
Sat. & Sun. noon-5pm
Sequoia View B&B • www.svbnb.com
Find them on Facebook