Toad Hollow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Deep ruby color; red fruits, mint, chocolate on the nose; black cherry, plum, chocolate, cedar, spice on the palate.

Toad Hollow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Dry; medium-full body, balanced tannins and acidity. Blend of 85% cabernet sauvignon, 15% merlot. Vintage 2016 was wetter and bigger than previous years in Lodi. Toad Hollow had to scramble some to avoid fruit getting too ripe—president-winemaker Frankie Williams admirably avoids the alcohol bomb excesses. At 14.1% ABV, this is in line with what she consistently does with her cab.

Velvety mouthfeel. Merlot contributes nice notes of softness. With air, gets increasingly delicious. Consider decanting to bring out the richer, smoother side of this libation. Simple structure, but rich tastes—including some sour cherry in the mid-palate—are rewarding.

The Toad Hollow name comes, according to the winery’s charming website, from original owners. Two friends, Dr. Toad (Todd Williams) and The Dancing Badger (Rodney Strong—he was a former dancer and choreographer), decided to start a winery in 1994 instead of retiring and rusting away. It remains family owned, although—from the website: “Heaven is a livelier place these days as both Dr. Toad and Mr. Badger have left their wine glasses with us here on Earth, but we know that these fine gentlemen toast us regularly, as we do them!” A couple of years ago, Frankie Williams entered into a marketing and sales agreement with Delicato Family Vineyards to achieve more distribution, but Frankie retains 100% ownership of Toad Hollow Vineyards.

Frankie Williams, Toad Hollow president

Regular readers know of my admiration of Toad Hollow’s president Frankie Williams. Francine “Frankie” Williams has a colorful history that includes working for the CIA. She arrived in California in 1972 and met Dr. Todd Williams. They married in 1978 and operated a San Francisco bar named “Toad Manner.” Later, they opened the Whiskey River Inn in the Sierra Foothills before moving back to Sonoma and Healdsburg, where Frankie helped manage a law firm. Then came the wine operation.

After Todd passed on in 2007, Frankie vowed to continue and now enjoys her days surrounded by Russian River Valley vineyards and her long-time staff. They source chardonnay from Mendocino County, pinot noir from Monterey, cabernet sauvignon from Lodi, and dry rosé from Sonoma’s Carneros. The grapes for this effort came from Lodi vineyards in the Clements Hills and Borden Ranch regions

Toad Hollow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is smooth with velvety softness merlot and structure of cab. Round, easy drinker. Easy pairing with pizza, meatloaf, pot roast, chicken fried steak, mac and cheese. Excellent QPR (quality-price ratio). $14-17

Toad Hollow website

Toad Hollow tasting room
Toad Hollow tasting room interior
Toad Hollow winery and vineyards
Toad Hollow vineyard
Toad Hollow vineyard in springtime
Toad Hollow website
Toad Hollow website