A true Diamond in the Rough

Helen and Lee Williams

Helen and Lee Williams

Sometimes we need to be adventurous and try something new.  Recently I had some free time and took Lee Williams up on his offer to visit Golden Star Winery in Little Rock California that he and his wife Helen own and operate.  Driving out to the winery, I passed through many open rural regions with miles of wide open spaces.  Trusting Google maps, I put aside the thought that I was lost.  Then, out in the middle of this endless land, you see a single large metal building surrounded by grape vines.  An oasis if you will.  As I drove up, I was greeted by Lee and Helen as they prepared for their day of pouring wine for their guests.

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Walking into the tasting room, I felt right at home as a "Baby Boomer" with music from the mid 60's to early 70's playing in the background.  Golden Star Vineyard is part of the Antelope Valley of the California High Desert AVA that was established in 2010, covering 665 sq miles North of Los Angeles near Sierra Pelona Valley and Leona Valley AVA's.  The climate is arid with an average rainfall of 4-9 inches. 

Golden Star Vineyard sources grapes from vineyards in Antelope Valley of the California High Desert AVA and Paso Robles.  On the estate, they are growing Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat of Alexandria Symphony (Muscat of Alexandria x Grenache Gris).

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The wines that are being produced by Golden Star are making their mark winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for their Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Purple Haze.  I was blown away by the wines being produced.  Golden Star has three very unique Syrah wines that will satisfy anyone's palate. From old world to new world styles.  Wines tasted on this visit include:

  • 2016 Viognier - grapes from Chavez Vineyards Antelope Valley.  Beautiful flavors of green apples with a nice acid balance.

  • 2015 Chardonnay - grapes from Paso Robles.  This Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel and is very French in design having a bright crispness from the acid and no creamy butter on the palate due to no Maloactic fermentation. 

  • 2013 Tempranillo - grapes from Chavez Vineyards Antelope Valley.

  • 2013 Syrah Americana - grapes from Chavez Vineyards Antelope Valley.  Beautiful blueberries on the nose and palate with a nice acid balance.

  • 2015 Syrah Americana - grapes from Chavez Vineyards Antelope Valley

  • 2013 Syrah Mistral - grapes from Chavez Vineyards Antelope Valley.  Aged in French Oak for 12 months. It is full-bodied, with blueberries, dark fruit, pepper, and finished with well integrated tannin.

  • 2014 Zinfandel - grapes from Paso Robles.

  • 2014 Purple Haze - Jacketed in a beautiful label sporting a tie dyed design, this blend of 70% Zinfandel, 25% Merlot and 5% Malbec is fantastic.  That is evident by the awards that it has won.

Golden Star Vineyard has really opened my eyes to searching outside of the usual wine districts such as Santa Ynez, Paso, etc.  Lee and Helen are terrific host and are proud of their wines as they should be.  If you are a "Baby Boomer" like me, you will feel right at home listening to Jimmy Hendrix playing in the background while you savoring a fine glass of "Purple Haze".

Writing this article, I keep remembering Anton Ego who was a renown food critic in the movie "Ratatouille".  Anton wrote, "In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: 'Anyone can cook.' But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."

It is not unusual in wine circles to hear people say that you must go to Napa, or Paso Robles to find really great wines.  But following Anton's comment, great vintners, like great cooks, can be anywhere.  This is true for the Golden Star Winery, as Lee and Helen have done a spectacular job at making wine.  Take the adventure, you will be glad that you did.



Rusty Sly