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Robert Goodman Wines Review

Region: California

Reviewed: February 17, 2013 by Nora
Published: February 21, 2013

Getting There:  Arcata is a small hamlet on the far north coast of California; though charmingly arranged around a pastoral square, the town is anything but sleepy. Home of Humboldt State University, a leader in environmental conservation and sustainability, the liberal lens of the community allows for a thriving street community to reside within its city limits. A walk across the plaza offers a glimpse into charming shops and great restaurants but also constant offers of solicitation, or entertainment depending on your perspective, from various panhandlers and artists. Regardless of your political persuasion, Arcata is fun and diverse community, but a little respite from the action of the plaza is a warm welcome. Enter Robert Goodman Winery; the tasting room and wine bar fills a niche in the community by offering a nicely appointed space with industrial, yet simple and stylish, décor conveniently located just off the plaza. The locals seem to agree as Robert Goodman Winery appears to be packed on any given night of the week and offers a bevy of fun events from spoken word to salsa dancing to traditional live Irish music.

The Experience:   Robert Goodman Winery opened his downtown Arcata tasting room in April of 2010 and has branded the business as Robert Goodman Wines at The Machine Works. Goodman had already been using the facility as a winery three years prior to the tasting room debut, and before that produced wine at his home in Arcata since 1977. If we’re talking about wine – which we always are! - Machine Works is essentially a second label for Goodman under which he produces value priced workhouse wines like the Industrial Red, a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend which retails at $15 a bottle and $5 a glass. But the name is also a nod to the history of the building which houses the winery and tasting room… you guessed it, it once was a working machine shop. In 2012, the tasting room added a full-service restaurant offering a diverse menu from classic wine bar light bites like a regional cheese plate to an upscale yet affordable selection of entrees from Sweet Potato Gnocchi ($10) to Niman Ranch Ribeye ($32). On our visit, we shared a cheese plate which featured three cheeses, tamari almonds, a local olive tapenade, apricot jam and local bread. It was just right at a $14 price tag. Robert Goodman Winery offers extended hours 7 days a week which mirror a wine bar business model more than a tasting room, opening daily at 4pm and staying open until 2am Thursday-Saturday and until 12pm on Sunday-Wednesday. Of course they offer a diversified selection of watering hole beverages to cater to this late night crowd including local beers on tap and an exciting selection of house cocktails featuring seasonal, trendy ingredients at great prices. For example, try the Slackerelli Sunrise featuring hibiscus infused tequila, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and hibiscus syrup, $8. Yum!

The overall vibe at the tasting is young and hip yet entirely friendly and welcome – a nice balance you don’t find every day and perhaps a credit to Arcata’s far-flung locale five hours from any major metro area. On visiting, I found the staff to be attentive, encouraging and informative; they explained the various offerings available with ease and clarity and reassured us that we could sample any wine there if we wanted “just a taste.” The menu also advertises the full monty of tasting listed on the menu as ‘Taste It All’ giving the lucky buyer a 1 oz. taste of every wine available which sounded like a fun way to kick the night off with a group of friends.

Wines:  When guests visit Robert Goodman Winery, flights are sold as a package rather than one pour after another again modeling the wine bar experience. On our visit, I chose the Humboldt County Flight which consisted of three 1 oz. pours of 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Pinot Noir and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon for $6. Each of these wines was produced from grapes grown in varying Humboldt County vineyards as opposed to Goodman’s series of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel sourced primarily from Carneros and Napa. I was eager to taste the labor of local fruits but I would advise future visitors to steer towards the Napa and Carneros wines in the future. The quality of the Humboldt County flight was substantially influenced by oak and manufactured notes of caramel in the Chardonnay, leather in the Pinot Noir and cinnamon and smoke in the Cabernet were so strong in the wine that it was difficult to get past the aromatics. So while I didn’t favor these wines, I found Goodman’s experience as a vintner to shine more brightly in the balance of his Howell Mountain (a Napa Valley AVA) Cabernet Sauvignon series. The wines are available at the tasting room and an assortment of local retailers in Humboldt County.

Address & Contact Information: 937 10th St. in Arcata Arcata, California 95521. Telephone: 707-826-WINE, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Sun-Wed 4:00-12:00, Thurs-Sat 4:00pm-2:00am.

Overall Rating:  

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