Category Archives: Release

Sonoma County Barrel Tasting Weekend

IMG_222337th Annual Barrel Tasting along the Wine Road in Northern Sonoma County will feature 100+ Wineries and held on two weekends March 6- 8 & March 13-15, 2015 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm each day.

This is the final of three classic events hosted by The Wine Road. Unlike the two previous events, this is not a food-pairing or themed event, but a chance to test your palate and purchase “futures” on wine.

With the third fabulous harvest (2012-2014) now in barrels and 2012-2103 already receiving critical acclaim from many sources, futures on these wines are in high demand and many of them are limited releases so that the purchase of futures, may be the only way to acquire some of these wines.

IMG_5883So how does this work – first think about the kind of wine your are interested in purchasing and then select some of our fabulous producers that make these wines.  Below is an anticipated list of participating wineries organized by general area to help you out – always check the event website for current information.

Then pack a picnic lunch or some snacks to pair with your wine of choice.  Now plan your day – I usually anticipate that I can stop by no more than 4-5 wineries in one day and often even fewer because I want to enjoy what each winery has to offer and to learn about the wines I may be purchasing.

IMG_3335Once you are are at the winery your ticket price includes the opportunity to sample wine from the barrel and in most cases also try a limited number of current release wine.  So sample away and then when you find those perfect wines – purchase them, often at a discount over they release price.  To actually acquire the wine you will normally come back to the winery when the wine is bottled, typically 12-18 months from now or have the wine shipped to you.

I will be out and about enjoying our fabulous wines, if you see me, please say hello and tell me about your favorite and I will feature you and the winery in my social media posts.

Participating Wineries include the following (please note some are only for one weekend).  They are organized by area for your convenience.  For specific addresses and locations check the event map.

Alexander Valley
Alexander Valley Vineyards *
deLorimier Winery (F)
Field Stone Winery & Vineyard (F) *
HANNA Winery – Alexander Valley (F) *
J. Rickards (F) *
Robert Young Estate Winery *
Simi Winery *
Soda Rock Winery (F) *
Starlite Vineyards (F) *
Trione Winery (F) 1st wkd. only
Trentadue Winery * 1st wkd. only
White Oak Vineyards & Winery 1st wkd. only
Dry Creek Valley
Amphora Winery (F)
Armida Winery (F)
Cast Wines (F) *
Chateau Diana Winery (F)
Collier Falls Vineyards (F) *
Dashe Cellars (F) *
David Coffaro Winery (F)
De La Montanya (F) 1st wkd. only
Dutcher Crossing Winery * 1st wkd. only
Everett Ridge Winery (F) *
Forth Vineyards (F) *
Fritz Underground Winery (F)
Geyser Peak Winery (new location)
Kachina Vineyards (F) *
Kokomo Winery 1st wkd. only
Lago di Merlo Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Martorana Family Winery 1st wkd. only
Mauritson Family Winery * 1st wkd. only
Mazzocco Sonoma Winery (F) *
Mietz Callars (F) *
Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Mounts Family Winery (F)
Papapietro Perry (F)
Pedroncelli Winery (F) *
Philip Staley Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Quivira Vineyards 1st wkd. only
Ridge Vineyards
Rued Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Sbragia Family Vineyards (F) * 1st wkd. only
Talty Winery 1st wkd. only
F. Teldeschi Winery
Trattore Estate Wines *
Truett Hurst Wienry (F) *
West Wines (F) *
Wilson Winery (F) *
Zichichi Winery (F) * 1st wkd. only
Geyserville – In Town
Locals Tasting Room
The Meeker Vineyard
Mercury Wine (F) *
Pech Merle (F)
Route 128 Winery (F)
Ramazzotti Wines (F) *
Healdsburg – In Town
Blanchard Family Wines
Bluenose (F) *
C. Donatiello Winery 1st wkd. only
Davis Family Vineyards (F) *
Hart’s Desire Wines (F) *
Hawley Winery
Holdredge Wines (F)
Hudson Street Wineries (F) *
J. Keverson Winery (F) *
Kelley & Young Wines (F) *
Kobler Estate (F)
Longboard Vineyards *
Malm Cellars (F)
Manzanita Creek Winery (F) *
Optima Winery (F) 1st wkd. only
Pezzi King (F) *
Portalupi Wines (F) * 1st wkd. only
Roadhouse Winery
Sapphire Hill Winery (F) *
Selby Winery (F) *
Skewis Wines (F) *
Stephen & Walker (F) *
Topel Winery Tasting Room (F) *
Valdez Family Winery (F)
Williamson Wines (F) *
Russian River Valley
ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyard (F) *
Balletto Vineyards (F)
Battaglini Estate Winery (F) *
Benovia Winery (F) * 1st wkd. only
Chalk Hill *
Christopher Creek Winery (F)
DeLoach Vineyards *
Dutton Estate Winery (F)
Fog Crest Vineyard (F)
Foppiano Vineyards (F) * 1st wkd. only
Graton Ridge Cellars (F) *
HANNA Winery – Russian River Valley (F) *
Harvest Moon Winery (F) *
HKG Estate, Hop Kiln Vineyards (F)
Hook & Ladder Winery (F)
Inman Family Winery (F) *
Jigar Wines *
Joseph Swan Vineyards (F) * 1st wkd. only
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Garden
Korbel Champagne Cellars *
Lauterbach Cellars (F) *
Martin Ray Winery (F) *
Matrix Winery (F) *
Merriam Vineyards (F) *
Moshin Vineyards * 1st wkd. only
Occidental Road Cellars (F) *
Old World Winery (F)
Paradise Ridge Winery (F) *
Porter Creek Vineyards (F) *
Red Car Wine Company (F) *
Robert Rue Winery (F)
Rodney Strong Vineyards * 1st wkd. only
Roth Estate (F) *
Russian River Vineyards (F) *
Sunce Winery (F)
Taft Street Winery (F) *
Viszlay Vineyards (F) *
VML Winery (F) *
Santa Rosa – In Town
Carol Shelton Wines (F)
Cellar of Sonoma (F)
D’Argenzio Winery (F) *
Desmond Wines (F)
Inspiration Vineyards & Winery (F)
Krutz Family Cellars (F) *
Lattanzio Wines (F) 8
Lost Canyon Winery (F)
Premonition Cellars (F)
Sheldon Wines (F) *
Siduri Wines & Novy Family Winery (F)
Windsor – In Town
Colagrossi Wines (F)
Deux Amis Winery (F) *
Vino Valpredo Wine Co. (F)

(F) indicates barrel tasting on Friday as well as Sat & Sun
* indicates no groups over 8, no limos

#WineCounty #SonomaCounty #Event #BarrelTasting #Wine #Wines #Winery #Wineries #Futures #DiscoverRRV #RussianRiverValley #DryCreekValley #AlexanderValley #Healdsburg #SantaRosa #Geyserville #Windsor #WineTasting

RRV Single Vineyard Night – Viva Variety!

View of Alcatraz from General's Residence at Fort Mason

View of Alcatraz from General’s Residence at Fort Mason

Internationally-renowned sommelier, Christopher Sawyer, with the Russian River Valley Winegrowers hosted an evening of Single Vineyard splendor at the General’s Residence (Fort Mason, San Francisco). As a native of Sonoma County, Christopher was the consumate host for this appellation in the heart of Wine Country. Christopher described Sonoma County as a little Europe, the land of promise, and everything you could ever want as far as a great place to live. The European analogy seemed to be a perfect introduction to the extraordinary variety that was to exemplify the Russian River Valley Single Vineyard wines.

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Northeastern section of Russian River Valley – Limerick Lane, Healdsburg, CA

The Russian River Valley (RRV) American Viticulture Area (AVA) encompasses more than 15,000 acres of winegrapes and approximately 100 wineries. Although world-class Pinot Noir is grown in abundance in the RRV, it not alone in the vineyards. The RRV is incredibly diverse consisting of five distinct growing neighborhoods or regions – Middle Reach, Laguna Ridge, Green Valley, Santa Rosa Plain, and Sebastopol Hills. The westernmost vineyards lie among hills on California’s coastal range sometimes within 8 miles of the Pacific Ocean.  These areas are cool-climate vineyards with the climate strongly influenced by the ocean and fog and focus on Pinot, Chardonnay and cool-climate winegrapes.

Statistics via Russian River Valley Winegrowers

Statistics via Russian River Valley Winegrowers

Further north in the RRV, the vineyards enjoy a milder influence from coastal breezes and oceanic fog; the relatively warmer climate finds Zinfandel winegrapes.  In the RRV’s northeastern corner it is at its warmest; the vineyards include winegrapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Many varietals florish within the RRV from Chardonnay to Gewurztraminer and present themselves as a reflection of the place in which they were grown by Winegrape Growers and Winemakers that are working to be 100% sustainable and protect this incredible valley for many generations to come.

What does ‘Single Vineyard’ really mean?  The RRV Winegrowers defined a single vineyard wine as the “grand cur” of grapes – the highest quality and most sought after.  Most winegrowers nuture a vineyard for years and then only in the best vintages do they single out those grapes for a vineyard designate wine – a year where the concentration, depth of flavor, balance, and complexity of the harvest results in an impeccable reflection of the terroir on that vineyard. This gives you an idea of the quality of the wines presented at this signature RRV event.

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Sommelier Christopher Sawyer

To exemplify the terroir diversity in this region, Christopher Sawyer along with an expert sommelier panel of Ian Burrows, Mauro Cirilli, and Michael Ireland selected four wines to discuss – a Bacigalupi Vineyards Estate Chardonnay (middle reach – Westside Road); a Dutton-Goldfield Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (Freestone – southwestern RRV); Martinelli Bondi Home Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir (Green Valley of the RRV); and Novy Papera Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel (Santa Rosa plains). As host, Christopher began with the Bacigalupi Chardonnay describing the old vine patch to the right of the family home that was planted in the mid 1960’s with an intimate knowledge of the winegrapes and wine produced there.  This white wine had a natural minerality with aromas of peach and mango followed by hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The medium acidity and citrus on the mid-palate created a well balanced wine.

Ian Burrows, Michael Ireland, and Mauro Cirilli

Ian Burrows, Michael Ireland, and Mauro Cirilli

Ian Burrows (formerly with FarmHouse Inn) continued with the Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir which displayed a good natural stucture that Ian felt would fully develop within 1-2 years in the bottle but would cellar well for 8+ years. The Pinot Noir displayed blackberries with a coriander/white pepper spice (called “Freestone spice”), some tobacco in the mid-palate and medium acidity.  Ian recommended pairing this Pinot Noir with tuna tatare or duck. Michael Ireland presented the Martinelli Pinot Noir which displayed dark cherries, plums, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon in a much riper wine than the Dutton Goldfield.  This wine also requires a little age to come together, but was an excellent historical representation of the Green Valley of RRV and showed a very different style of Pinot Noir.  Mauro Cirilli finished with the Novy Zinfandel.  Papera Ranch is an old-vine Zinfandel vineyard, located on the eastern side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Planted in 1934, after the repeal of prohibition, the wine from this vineyard showed aromas of red raspberries, mint, wild flowers and sage with the silky tannins of an old vine winegrape. This seminar’s prelude of diversity introduced the audience to the variety of amazing wines that followed in the grand tasting.

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Middle Reach of Russian River Valley

I started off my journey through the Russian River Valley Single Vineyard wines looking outside my standard favorites (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) for those wines that would show the diversity in this truly rich agricultural region. Here are just some of the wines I tried.  I hope they give you a small taste of the wonderful choices that you can experience exploring the high quality wines produced from vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA.

Cartograph‘s 2013 Floodgate Vineyard Gewurztraminer a pale yellow Alsace-style bone dry white wine with aromas of lemon and mandarin orange.  DRNK Wines 2013 Catie’s Corner Viognier a crisp white wine with aromas white peach, melon and guava, a mineral driven structure, light tannins and a fresh finish. Gordian Knot Winery 2012 Elieo Vineyard Albarino a tangy mix of white peach, grapefruit with firm acidity. Valdez Family Winery 2012 U.V. El Diablo Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc a zesty white wine with aromas of lemon grass, green apple, and subtle notes of honey. J Vineyards 2013 Cooper Vineyard Pinot Gris a tropical white wine with aromas of oranges, apricots, and honeysuckle; a crisp acidity and distinct minerality. I would drink all of these wines now.

Nicole Bacigalupi

Nicole Bacigalupi

Mueller Winery 2012 Block Eleven Syrah a fruity red wine with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, oak and vanilla; complex with a smooth finish. Viszlay Vineyards 2009 Five Vines Bordeaux Blend a fruit-forward ripe red wine with aromas of blackberry, currant, vanilla, and caramel; a medium acidity and fine tannins.  Y. Rousseau 2012 Tannat, Matthew’s Station a rich dark red wine with aromas of black cherry, cassis and licorice that turns into a juicy cherry pie on the palate. Acorn Winery 2012 Sangiovese, Alergria Vineyards a red wine with aromas of cherries, plum and oak that add mocha on the palate; slightly chewy with youthful tannins. Bacigalupi Vineyards 2012 Petite Sirah a big, bold red wine with earthy aromas and flavors of pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon which dominate a boysenberry jam and typically firm tannins, cellar to enjoy later.  Most of these red wines would benefit from a little patience in the bottle/cellar.

Ted Elliott with Christopher Sawyer

Ted Elliott with Christopher Sawyer

Okay, I can’t help myself – one Pinot Noir.  First, I must say, there are too many great Pinot Noirs in the Russian River Valley to try them all in one sitting, but maybe one Pinot Noir to start your journey would be TR Elliott 2009 O’Connell Vineyard Burgonet a selection of three barrels from the two-acre vineyard atop a knoll on Vine Hill Ridge in western Sonoma County that is planted exclusively to the Pommard clone. The O’Connell Vineyard has a long, cool growing season and Gold Ridge sandy loam soils.  The aroma of this wine is cherries, raspberries, and cinnamon that waifs into tobacco and forest floor on the palate. A beautifully complex wine that will make you want to take a life-long journey through Russian River Valley wines.  So whether you choose to explore new varietals or some of the classic grapes plan to fall in love with the Russian River Valley Winegrowers and Winemakers.

If you missed the Russian River Valley Single Vineyard Night, they also host Russian River Valley Passport to Pinot coming in June 2015.  Join their mailing list and you will always know when these two classic events go on sale.

#RussianRiverValley #Winegrowers #Wine #Winetasting #ChristopherSawyer #SingleVineyardNight #AcornWinery #BacigalupiVineyards #Cartograph #DRNKWines #DuttonGoldfield #GordianKnotWinery #JVineyards #JWine #MartinelliWinery #MuellerWinery #NovyFamilyWines #TRElliott #ValdezFamilyWinery #YRousseau #IanBurrows #MichaelIreland #MauroCirilli #PassporttoPinot #PinotClassic

Genesis versus Coravin – How do You Preserve Your Wine?

IMG_3170 SmallNapa Technology, makers of the WineStation®, launched their single bottle commercial (Genesis Pro) and residental (Genesis) wine preservation systems for both still and sparkling wine at Raymond Vineyards last night.

Either Genesis system dispenses preserved wine an ounce or glass at a time to allow tasting or service without consuming (or wasting) the remainder of the bottle. Since both Genesis systems come with multiple IntelliCorks (10 commercial or 3 residental) multiple varietals can be opened at any time and stored outside the machine.

Napa Technology presented a champagne that had been open 4 days and red and white still wines that were opened on October 17, 2014 (10 days).  All of the wines tasted fresh, but I had not tried a recently opened bottle of the varietals, so I was unable to tell any changes in the wine.  I would have preferred a newly opened as well as a 30 day bottle for comparative purposes.

Genesis Champagne

The obvious advantages over a Coravin Wine Access system (which I have been happily using for almost a year) are the Genesis system will work on any type of closure (screw top, natural cork or synthetic).  Additionally, the Genesis system works on champagne / sparkling wine as well as still wine.

Sparkling wine is advertised to last for up to 5 days and still wine for 1-60 days.  The Genesis system gives commercial facilities the ability to serve more wines by the glass and the consumer the ability to drink wine(s) over a number of days. The convenient size will work in most settings and accommodates 750 ml and magnum size bottles in a free standing model.

The commercial version of the Genesis system retails at $899 and the residental system at $499. Gas cannisters come with both models and additional IntelliCorks and cannisters can be ordered from the Genesis website.

#Genesis #NapaTechnology #Wine #WineAccessories #WinePreservation

Twomey Cellars Healdsburg Winery Hosts Industry Open House

TwomeyWe are blessed to live in a location where generosity is the norm!

Our local wineries, restaurants, inns, and tour guides graciously work together to make visitors feel like guests in their homes usually with the help of a little insider knowledge. These professionals help Wine Country guests’ select the perfect options from a diversity of wonderful choices by keeping abreast of ever-changing selections. On Tuesday evening, Twomey Cellars provided an after hours professional open house on their current offerings that was both educational and fun.

twomey1guestsTwomey (Healdsburg) Cellars is located on Westside Road a couple of miles west of downtown Healdsburg in a curving- roof modern design that follows the lines of the landscaping with winding, wraparound patios set into the rolling foothills and glass walls give expansive views of Mount St. Helena, Geyser Peak, and the “Middle Reach” of the Russian River Valley.

This is the heart of Pinot Noir Wine Country and Twomey’s summer offering, featuring a 3-Bottle Sampler includes their 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir as well as their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 Single Vineyard Merlot.  The pinot noir grapes are sourced from the vineyards directly in front of the winery.

Guests were treated to offerings from the ChefsTwomey Cellars chefs’ pizza oven and The Oyster Girls while they enjoyed the beautiful evening on the spacious deck and browsed the gift shops extensive selection of wine country items from gifts, to clothing, to picnic supplies.

guests2Twomey Cellars, from the family of Silver Oak Cellars, began as a pursuit to the discovery of varietals in California beyond Cabernet Sauvignon. Twomey’s philosophy is to make exceptional, food-friendly wines that are deliciously drinkable upon release. Twomey Cellars originated with the Soda Canyon Ranch in southeastern Napa Valley, which the Duncan family (owners of Silver Oak Cellar) acquired in 1999 and planted with the finest French Merlot clones in well-drained volcaoystersgirlsnic soils. Twomey’s founding winemaker, Daniel Baron uses a method known as soutirage traditionnel, a slow, careful process of decanting the wine from one barrel to another. At Twomey, this racking is done six times during the 18 months of aging. They consider it the ideal way to clarify red wine to crystal-clear brilliance while drawing its fruit characteristics forward and softening its tannins.guests4 

In 2000, the Duncan family secured the nine-acre West Pin vineyard in the Russian River Valley and Twomey now produces four Pinot Noirs from top California appellations, including Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and Santa Maria Valley. Twomey’s newest offering is a Sauvignon Blanc grown on two estate properties: the vineyard surrounding their Calistoga winery and the Westside Road Vineyard.  As a special trMerloteat, Twomey opened a 3 liter 2004 Merlot for their guests, which is also available for sale at the winery.

Twomey Cellars and Silver Oak Cellars have wine tasting rooms in both Sonoma and Napa Counties.  Their locations offer a variety of tasting options – check their websites for current offerings.

The Oyster Girls are a traveling oyster bar that has been satisfying the appetites of oyster lovers since 2007. Visit their website for details on how to book them for your next event.

#TwomeyCellars #SilverOakCellars #TheOysterGirls #Wine

A Classic Blend of Rustic and Romance – Bucher Vineyard

BucherViewI know one day soon, I will be fighting for a space to park and a spot at the table with these generous, friendly, down-to-earth Sonoma County farmers, Diane and John Bucher.  Not only are their grapes/wines fabulous, but the rolling hills estate of Bucher Vineyards is truly breathtaking; a classic blend of rustic earthiness and romance that matches their 2012 pinot noirs, the second release for this winery that won’t be a secret to anyone for long.

Bucher Winery

John and Diane Bucher oversee their family’s vineyard on Westside Road near Arista Winery in Healdsburg.  John, a Healdsburg native, graduated from UC Davis and returned home to manage his family’s dairy farm.  The dairy operation began with John’s parents in 1958 and grew to encompass 360 acres of prime land.  In 1997, John diversified the family operation to include wine grapes; a true combination of modern-day Sonoma County agriculture and a throwback to our region’s traditional roots.  The family’s dairy operation still thrives (supplying organic milk to local favorite Clover Stornetta) but the vineyard business has grown to now include over 40 acres of highly sought after Pinot Noir spread across 14 distinct vineyard blocks. Pommard and Dijon Pinot Noir clones were established initially with the assistance of winemaker Bob Cabral, but have since been expanded to heritage clones including Swan, Mt. Eden and Jackson and one of the original 15 pinot noir blocks (Corner Block) has been grafted over to Chardonnay.

DJBucherThe blocks in Bucher Vineyard range from a little over one acre to just under six acres with most of them on the smaller side.  John has worked to keep the grape size small creating a higher skin-to-juice ratio which is coveted for high quality pinot noir.  “Good quality will always sell, was my parents’ philosophy,” John said.

Fruit from Bucher Vineyard has historically gone to several wineries including Williams Selyem, Arista, Siduri, Holdredge, Papapietro Perry, C. Donatiello Winery and Frank Family Vineyards where it has received many acclaims and is often a single vineyard designate.  In 2011 John and Diane Bucher utilized their high quality grapes to launch the Bucher Vineyard label with the aid of Siduri winemaker Adam Lee.  An estate 2011 Pinot Noir and 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay (utilizing grapes from the neighboring Lazy W Ranch on Westside Road) were the inaugural releases. 

BucherGuestsMy tasting notes on the current releases follow:

2012 Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – Russian River pinot noirs have a signature cola-spice aroma with an underlying earthiness and this lightly oaked wine was no exception.  It had a red-berry palate tasting of cherries and raspberries with firm tannins for a rich finish. (Recommend drink now, but cellar some for later)

2012 Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Three Sixty Pinot Noir – The heritage clone and hillside soils have added an enormous amount of depth and complexity to this textbook vintage.  The plum and sassafras notes translate into rich cherry-plum-raspberry pie on the palate highlighted by exotic spices.  The wine finishes beautifully with a hint of sweet vanilla. (Recommend drink, then drink more… oh yes, cellar some too!)

BucherGuests2Additionally, Bucher Vineyard has released a 2013 Bucher Vineyard Chardonnay and a 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir.  The Bucher Vineyard wines are understated, silky smooth with a conservative approach to oak.

Be sure to visit this friendly family and taste their wonderful bounty.  Tours and tastings require a reservation.  For additional information see their website or contact Diane at 707-484-5162 or diane@buchervineyard.net.   #BucherVineyard #wine #winetasting #SonomaCounty

Change of Reins Evident at Williams Selyem

Williams SelyemAlthough Williams Selyem announced earlier this year that its long-time Winemaker and General Manager Bob Cabral will be stepping down and the 2014 harvest will be his last at the iconic Russian River winery, it was evident in other ways.  Standing next to what has become a traditional spot for the winemaker – the barrel tasting – was Jeff Mangahas instead of Bob Cabral.

Mark Malpiede, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said that this transition has been planned for some time.  Jeff Mangahas came to Williams Selyem from Hartford Family Winery three years ago after having worked at Artesa Vineyards and Dutton-Goldfield.  Jeff has a technical background, starting his career at the University of Washington with a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology before enrolling in the Winemaking program at UC Davis where he completed his M.S. in Enology.  Jeff says he loves to coax the best wine possible out of each vintage.  At home he is a gardener and chef.

In 2011, Jeff credited the 1996 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir as an eye-opening wine that helped spark his passion for Pinot Noir.  Jeff has some seriously impressive results from both Hartford Family Winery and Williams Selyem for a fairly shy and very humble man and we are all looking forward to many fabulous vintages with him.  

The wine tastings available during the Spring 2014 Release included the 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir, 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2012 Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir and the 2012 Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir.  Although the Westside Road Neighbors PN has long been a favorite of mine because I think Bucher, Rocchioli, Allen, and Bacigalupi (among others) are some of the finest Pinot Noir growers in Sonoma County, I was pleasantly surprized to meet a new friend the 2012 Terra de Promissio Vineyard (“Land of Promise”) Pinot Noir.  Growers Diana and Charles Karren were on hand Saturday to talk about their vineyard and grapes, saying   “Terra de Promissio employs hands-on sustainable farming practices that not only produce the finest Pinot Noir grapes, but also ensures the livelihood of the environment for us, our son and daughter, and the generations that will follow them.  Terra de Promissio does not belong to us, we belong to it…”

The Petaluma Gap is the gateway to the Sonoma Coast region. Although not a designated appellation, the Petaluma Gap is producing premium grapes that make the Sonoma Coast Appellation one of California’s best areas to grow primarily Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah grapes according to the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance.  It is their campaign to put Petaluma on the American Viticultural Area map.

At the Spring Release, Williams Selyem had their traditional array of guests, including Gaga Cafe (drip coffee), Costeaux French Bakery, Valley Ford Cheese Company, Zazu Restaurant/Farm, Healdsburg Toffee Company, and Dry Creek Olive Company.  In speaking with Michelle Robson, General Manager of Trattore Estate Wines and Dry Creek Olive Company, she indicated that construction is underway for their new facility in the Dry Creek Valley that will be opening later this year as well as their new tasting room in downtown Healdsburg.

#wine #winetasting #release #SonomaCounty #TerradePromissio #WilliamsSelyem #Trattore #DryCreekOlive

Benovia Spring Open House 2014

Joe Anderson and Mike Sullivan

Joe Anderson and Mike Sullivan

Benovia’s Open House Saturday was highly anticipated and well attended – but that would be  expected.  Benovia has consistently produced excellent wines and Spring was in the air.

Benovia is at the end of Hartman Road (West of Santa Rosa) in the Russian River Valley.  It is an elegant setting that helps you appreciate the wine and this event even more.

Joe Anderson (owner) and Mike Sullivan (winemaker) were pouring wines along with a crew of family and staff.  This is always a very friendly and well organized event.  When you entered you were handed a glass of 2013 Rosé  of Pinot Noir.  This Rosé has cranberry / watermelon aromas supported by bright acidity and a tart cherry finish.  This will be a great summer wine and drinkable right away.

The Chardonnays offered for tasting included the 2012 Ft. Ross-Seaview Chardonnay from the Martinelli vineyards, a wine that reflects its cool-climate origins with aromas of pears, and the 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a complex blend from Benovia’s Martaella Estate Vineyard and grapes from a couple of small Russian River growers.  I believe both of these will gain from little more time in the bottle.  Historically, the RRV Chardonnays have done very well in competitions and I wouldn’t expect less from this textbook vintage.

Gerard's Paella

Gerard’s Paella

The Pinot Noirs are the highlight for me.  I paired them with Gerard’s Paella, a local favorite! Gerard’s blend of rice, vegetables, seasonings, sausage and chicken matched the wine beautifully.

Benovia was pouring their 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from their Martaella Estate Vineyard.  2012 was considered an excellent year for Pinot.  This wine’s aroma is full red fruit, but tastes more dense and earthy.  Benovia also poured their 2011 La Pommeraie Pinot Noir which vintage after vintage has been one of my brother’s favorite wines.  The fruit is sourced from a Martinelli Family vineyard along Laguna Ridge at the edge of
the Green Valley AVA.  The name pays homage to its apple orchard origins (La Pommeraie is French for apple orchard). This wine hints of blackberries and crisp acidity.  Mike Sullivan indicated that Benovia chooses their clones thoughtfully to develop flavor and nuances that might not be in some other pinots.  Benovia has a number of heritage clones as well.  Their pinots reflect Mike’s thoughtfulness from the field to the bottle.

I believe that all of Benovia’s Pinot Noirs reflect their best potential with some aging.  I highly recommend cellaring these wines for a year or so and then start tasting them again.  Joe was also pouring a 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir (for friends) which reflected the merits of a little patience. This Anderson Valley wine is more earthy than its Sonoma County relatives and still could easily be cellared for a few more years.

Last but not least Benovia was pouring their 2011 Sonoma County Zinfandel.  They dry-farm these Russian River Valley vines to produce small and compact clusters with incredible fruit intensity and bright acidity.  Dry-farming is only one of the many sustainable practices employed at Benovia Winery.  Read more about everything from Solar Panels to root-stock selection on their website and support farmers/vineyards that treat this wonderful place we live gently.

Everyone was enjoying the beautiful wines and the incredible setting.  Here are a couple of pictures of guests relaxing and a little romance in the vineyards.  It was a great day all around.  If you would like to stop by an enjoy this incredible venue and their wonderful wines.  Appointments are required.  See their website for additional information.  Tell Roger that Discover Sonoma County Wine sent you.

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Annual End of Frost Party – Emeritus April 2014

Emeritus’ Annual End of Frost Party last weekend was fabulous, although Lost Dog Found provided amazing music and Pizza Politana delectable pizzas the star of the show was, of course, the wines. Rebecca and Keith greeted you with a 2013 Ruby Ruby (Ruby will you be Wine?) Pinot Noir Saignee from the Russian River Valley. This wine from the Hallberg Vineyard was crisp and fruity. It was placed into the fermentation tanks with the skins for a few days and then just the juice was removed to ferment. It spent 3-4 months in natural oak and is the perfect wine for the warm weather that has moved into Sonoma County this week. Continue reading

Littorai Spring Release 2014

I ran into Littorai wines via a Charity auction a few years back and have been an avid follower every since. I appreciate their support of the community and especially their commitment to sustainable farming methods. They treat the land gently and their wines truly reflect the terroir. At their spring.release party last weekend they rolled out some of their 2012 pinot noirs including Les Larmes (Anderson Valley) and Platt Vineyard and Pivot Vineyard from Sonoma County. My personal favorite was the Pivot – rich in cherries and herbs with a robust earthiness. Continue reading