Category Archives: Sonoma County

Francis Ford Coppola Winery Vineyard Walk

I’ve walked the beautiful new ‘Vineyard Walks’ created jointly by the Sonoma County Winegrowers and various Wineries in Sonoma County. For this series of articles, I am sharing some of their highlights so that you can find the perfect one for you. There are currently seven vineyard walks, but the numbers will be expanding as more wineries join the party. This will be a multi-part series highlighting the current vineyard walks by appellation, Amista Vineyards (Dry Creek Valley), Balletto Vineyards (Russian River Valley), Francis Ford Coppola Winery (Alexander Valley), Matanzas Creek Winery (Bennett Valley), Paradise Ridge Winery (Russian River Valley), Schug Carneros Estate Winery (Carneros) and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards (Sonoma Valley).


Part II – Alexander Valley – Francis Ford Coppola Winery:

Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Rustic Restaurant is the complete package with more than forty wines produced on-site, a full-service restaurant serving cuisine paired perfectly with their wines, poolside luxury for swimmers or sunbathers and a fabulous array of wine-tasting experiences. Now you can also enjoy the sustainably farmed vineyards surrounding their Alexander Valley facility.

The vineyard walk here is one of the longer one at just over a mile and has one small section that is a little steep, but the walk features some incredible views for those wanting a truly unique experience. Especially during harvest season with vines bursting with grapes, this is a walk not to be missed.

For all of the walks you need to check-in at the winery for a map showing you the route and highlighting points of interest. Then be sure to have the essentials ready including a bottle of water (available poolside). Other essentials are comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. These walks are perfect for locals or visitors to learn how sustainably farmed vineyards create better wine or just enjoy this stunning property.

The walk begins just beyond the parking lot in the Lily Block, also known as the “H Block” where Wine Club members convene annually to adopt a vine and have dinner under the oaks – a tradition since 2007.  Each of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery blocks are named after the child of a winemaking team member.

The walk showcases the Coppola’s commitment to preserve and protect these 88 acres of land, including many native plants, trees, creeks and wildlife in addition to the beautiful vineyards in full bloom as harvest approaches. The vineyards are certified sustainable by both the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and Fish Friendly Farming preserving these lands for future generations to enjoy.

The Alexander Valley is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and was born from the original Sotoyome Rancho, a Mexican land grant. In 1841, Cyrus Alexander came to this unnamed valley on the northern frontier of Mexico homesteading the frontier with temperate climate, plentiful water, abundant timber and good soils that would later be named in his honor.

Alexander Valley is approximately 22 miles in length and varies in width from a couple to seven miles wide encompassing almost 77,000 acres planted to about 15,000 acres of premium wine grapes and formally recognized as an American Viticulture Appellation (AVA) in 1984.

The highlight of the tour for me was the spectacular views of Francis Ford Coppola Winery and the Alexander Valley featuring many of the gorgeous grapes being used in their red wines. But a close second was the poolside pannini’s and wine at the end of the walk.  

This is the perfect place to spend the day or start a tour of Alexander Valley. Alexander Valley Winegrowers, Sonoma Vintners and the Wine Road all have great tour planning information on their websites that help Sonoma County visitors plan their perfect wine tasting tours of the many great offerings in this appellation.

The next article in this series will feature the vineyard walks of the Russian River ValleyBalletto Vineyards and Paradise Ridge Winery


Sonoma County vineyard walks highlight harvest season

Sonoma County always boasts incredibly scenic vistas but the county is especially beautiful during the annual fall grape harvest. One of the best ways to enjoy these venues is hiking the newly designed Vineyard Walks created jointly by the Sonoma County Winegrowers and various Wineries in Sonoma County.

Grapes for sparkling wines and Sauvignon Blanc have begun rolling into the crush pads and all our vineyards are bustling with winemakers sampling grapes in anticipation of the 2016 vintage. If you would like to experience wine country like a local, the vineyard walks should be on your bucket list.  These walks are all very diverse and truly highlight the participating vineyards and wineries.


I’ve walked these beautiful pathways and hope to share some of their highlights, so that you can find the perfect one for you. There are currently seven vineyard walks, but the numbers will be expanding as more wineries join the party. This will be a multi-part series highlighting the current vineyard walks by appellation, Amista Vineyards (Dry Creek Valley), Balletto Vineyards (Russian River Valley), Francis Ford Coppola Winery (Alexander Valley), Matanzas Creek Winery (Bennett Valley), Paradise Ridge Winery (Russian River Valley), Schug Carneros Estate Winery (Carneros) and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards (Sonoma Valley).



Part I – Dry Creek ValleyAmista Vineyards:

Amista Vineyards harvested their Chardonnay grapes for some of their many delicious sparkling wines this morning and celebrated the event by blessing the grapes with a previous vintage of the wine. Workers start early in the morning under the watchful eye of winemaker Ashley Herzberg and owners Mike and Vicky Farrow. The grapes looked fabulous this year and were at about two tons per acre. Last year they were the first grapes harvested in Dry Creek Valley about two weeks ahead of the harvest this year. This year they followed the Sauvignon Blanc harvested at Dry Creek Vineyard a few days ago. 

My vineyard walk here was a few weeks ago via an #InstaMeet held by the Dry Creek Valley Winegrowers at Amista Vineyards. An early evening walk highlighted with wines along the path that is not the usual fare on these walks but a true treat. 

Dry Creek Valley (DCV) is home to over 9,000 acres of vineyards that carpet the intimate 16-mile long x 2-mile wide valley, floor to hillside. With a grape growing history going back 140 years – one of the longest in California – producing premium winegrapes is core to this region. In fact, the valley boasts one of the densest concentrations of Old Vine Zinfandel in the world. Grapes in the DCV are approximately 28% Zinfandel, followed closely by 24% Cabernet Sauvignon with significant plantings of Chardonnay (12%) and Sauvignon Blanc (7%) as well. The remaining 29% include many of the Rhone varietals like the Sarah, Grenache and Mourvèdre grown in the Amista Vineyards.  

The highlights of the easy, flat vineyard walk
(approximately 0.6 mile) were the 200-year-old Heritage Oak tree that was here
when California became a state in 1850 and the Dry Creek Restoration Project
with Fish Habitat. The restoration project is a massive habitat enhancement
project that is intended to restore endangered Coho Salmon as well as other
Salmonoid species to the 14 miles of Dry Creek in the Russian River watershed
by voluntary cooperation of the many landowners and winegrowers along the Dry
Creek Valley floor.

Additional stops on the tour included an old frost pump as spring frosts are often a concern in Northern California vineyards and various vineyards from Rhone varietals to Chardonnay. Many of these grapes you walk pass are used in Amista’s sparkling wines. I highly recommend their seated sparkling wine tasting with cheese pairing as the ultimate indulgence for the start to a wine tasting adventure in the Dry Creek Valley. Dry Creek Valley Winegrowers, Sonoma Vintners and the Wine Road all have great tour planning information on their websites that help Sonoma County visitors plan their perfect wine tasting tours of the many great offerings in this appellation.

Amista, roughly translated, means “making friends”
in Spanish and honors those who originally settled this area.  In fact, Amista’s Vineyard straddles the
boundaries of two former Spanish land grants. 
The grant known as Rancho Tzabaco encompassed most of what is the Dry
Creek Valley of today. Rancho Sotoyome, just to the south, extended along the
Russian River incorporating the Alexander Valley and present day Healdsburg.

Amista Vineyards and many Dry Creek Valley wineries are friendly locations with family farmers eager to share their stories and produce with guests. Vineyard walks require some planning – I recommend comfortable walking shoes, a bottle of water, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. This makes a great trip for locals as well as visitors. Plan to stop at the winery for a tasting at the end and you have the perfect adventure to include in your Dry Creek Valley tour.

The next vineyard walk will be in Alexander Valley at the beautiful Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Additional tour information for Dry Creek Valley wineries are highlighted on the Sonoma County Vintners’, DCV Winegrowers or Wine Road websites along with tour planning suggestions. Alexander Valley tour information can also be found via these resources and the Alexander Valley Winegrowers.

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Wine Road Magical Mystery Tour

From humble beginnings with nine founding winery members in 1976 to a world-class wine tourism destination, Wine Road now represents 200 wineries and over 50 lodgings throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys. One of the oldest associations of its kind in California, Wine Road’s legacy and impact on the region is being celebrated this year with a series of events commemorating its 40th Anniversary.

I was lucky to join a media preview of this fabulous adventure earlier this year – by far one of the most fun tours ever! I love to be chauffeured around and treated to luxury at every stop. How about you?

To participate, purchase a ticket to one of four locations – Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley or Urban Wineries from the Wine Road. On June 18, 2016 we will gather in Healdsburg Square and board a mystery bus to our destinations. These destinations are unknown – a mystery – but each one will feature wine tasting, food and special experiences.normal’> normal’>Now, I have no idea of the stops that are planned, but these valleys are my neighborhood and some of the best locations to taste wine that you can image. Each one of these has great opportunities, so I will try to help you select a destination that is perfect for you.  

Alexander Valley: In 1841 Cyrus Alexander arrived in an untamed valley to manage the Sotoyome Rancho and received 9,000 acres as payment. Here he built his home, planted an orchard, constructed a tannery, built the first grain mill in the area and planted a vineyard. In the 1880s, immigrants formed the Italian Swiss Colony agricultural cooperative at Asti and by the 1950s, the winery was California’s second-most visited tourism destination, after Disneyland. Alexander Valley received formal recognition as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1984. Located at the northern end of Sonoma County, the Alexander Valley is 22 miles long and varies in width from two to seven miles. There are 76,900 acres of land, of which 15,000 acres are planted to premium wine grapes. World-famous Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive from valley floor to mountain ridges. Alexander Valley is also home to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Zinfandel and Rhone varieties, including Syrah and Viognier.

Dry Creek Valley: With roots reaching back 140 years, Dry Creek Valley’s history in wine grape growing is among the longest in California. Its fertile landscape attracted settlers soon after the California Gold Rush of 1849. By the late 1880s, the valley had nine wineries and 883 acres of vineyards – the majority planted to Zinfandel, for which Dry Creek is best known. Prohibition ended this first wine boom and it wasn’t revived completely until the 1970’s. Dry Creek Valley became an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1983; a two mile wide valley that is approximately 16 miles long and is named after a tributary of the Russian River (Dry Creek). Sauvignon Blanc is the standout white varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon is under-appreciated here, as are other Bordeaux varietals. Rhone wines, as single varietals and in blends including Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre are attracting serious attention. 

Russian River Valley: Russian River Valley is named for the Russians, who settled along the Sonoma coast and left a significant impact on the area. The fertile soils of the Russian River Valley provided a region apt for farming and sustaining their outposts. By 1876 viticulture was well established with excess of 500,000 gallons of wine produced and about 7,000 vine acres planted. The current era in Russian River Valley winemaking began in the 1960’s when Bob Sisson, the University of California Farm Advisor for Sonoma County, began urging local growers to turn their focus toward cool climate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1983 the Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) became an approved viticultural area with an expansion in 2005 to better define the unique geographical characteristics of the Russian River Valley AVA – an area influenced by cool, coastal fog — the single most important factor differentiating the Russian River Valley AVA.  While the Russian River Valley is renowned for its cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier and Gewurtztraminer thrive in the diverse neighborhoods of the Russian River Valley.

Urban Wineries: With urban wineries you get all of the above and surprises that you might not expect. In Sonoma County, many of our vineyards are in areas too rugged to be easily reached by guests, so tasting rooms are sometimes built where the wine is made – in an urban setting. This provides opportunities to experience the winemaking process and see state-of-the-art equipment – sorting tables, bladder presses, fermentation tanks, cement eggs and wine barrels. Perhaps a bottling line in action with a current vintage or a sneak peak of wine fermenting in an oak barrel will reward your travels. Urban wineries are an eclectic mix of tasting rooms, wine grape varieties and winemaking surprises. These wineries represent the diversity of Sonoma County – home to more soil types than all of France. They provide the natural chemistry for growing a variety of top winegrapes. Look for diversity in Urban Wineries, the experience you’ll find and the wines they offer.

If you have made up your mind, tickets are available at the Wine Road and I’ll see you in my neighborhood this June.

#DryCreekValley #RussianRiverValley #WineRoad #SonomaCounty #WineCountry
#Events #MagicalMysteryTour #DiscoverSonomaCountyWine #Wine #WineTasting #FoodPairings

Passport to Dry Creek Valley

“A modern tradition with century-old roots” is a great description of the Dry Creek Valley and its eclectic mix of modern winemakers, family farmers and historical vineyards.  Always one of the most engaging events of the season, it continues to grow and evolve each year to offer something new and exciting.

Tickets are still available for the weekend on the Dry Creek Valley Winegrowers’ website. Also, pre-event luncheons are still available for a couple of great locations: Sbragia, Comstock and Capo Creek Ranch.  This pre-event luncheons let you relax with the winemakers and owners and learn about the Dry Creek Valley in an intimate family atmosphere.

Last year the DCV Passport added vineyard tours which are expanded from two to four this year.  The events on Saturday are a first come, first served model, so be on time or miss all the fun.  On Sunday, the tours require an appointment as space is much more limited.  The springtime in Dry Creek Valley is one of the most beautiful and a perfect time to learn about grapes.

I love the fun atmosphere of the themes at many wineries – at Armida Winery they are hosting the classic “Caddyshack” and Chateau Diana is going back to the 60’s with Flower Power. The wineries also focus on great food and wine combinations to showcase the farm-to-table blessings we have in Sonoma County. Some of my favorites last year were Collier Falls Vineyard, Comstock Wines, Devero Farms & Winery, Dutcher Crossing Winery, Forchini Vineyards, Gustafson Family Vineyard, Kachina Vineyards, Manzanita Creek, Mazzocco Sonoma Winery, Pedroncelli Winery, Rued Winery, Selby Winery, Truett Hurst Winery and Wilson Winery.

If fabulous music and wine away the afternoon you will have many choices from Country Western to Rock-n-Roll – for variety try De La Montanya Winery, Dry Creek Vineyard (Salty Shanties), Geyser Peak Winery (Rat Pack style), Kokomo Winery (Blue Grass), Malm Cellars (Country), Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery (Vegas style), Papapietro Perry Winery (New Orleans Jazz) and West Wines (America Graffiti) among others.

If you would just like to relax with a combination of great wines, fabulous food, good music and incredible views that is available too – try some of my favorite views at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery, Mounts Family Winery, Ridge Vineyards – Lytton Springs, Sbragia Family Vineyards, Talty Winery, Trattore Farms and Zichichi Family Vineyards.

If you like more activities try bocce ball at Mortarana Family Winery, Seghesio Family Vineyards or Lambert Bridge Winery; then hit it out of the park, baseball style at David Coffaro Estate Vineyards. Go for a unique experience and see a real amphora wine fermenter at Amphora Winery; catch talented local artisans at Amista Vineyards, sign a barrel at Blanchard Family Wines, visit a little piece of Germany at Gopfrich Winery, get a bottle signed by famed chef Charlie Palmer & winemaker Clay Mauritson at Mauritson Family Winery, visit old Hollywood at Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate, donate to local fire departments that help protect our precious vineyards with longtime volunteer fireman & winemaker Fred Peterson at Peterson Winery, and visit the biodynamic gardens at Quivira Vineyards and Winery.

There is something for everyone is this beautiful valley – don’t miss this annual event when the wineries of Dry Creek Valley showcase their best wines, food, music and entertainment.

#DCVPassport #Passport #DryCreekValley #Amista #Amphora #Armida #Blanchard #Cast #ChateauDiana #ColllierFalls #Comstock #DaveroFarms #DavidCoffaro #DeLaMontanya #DryCreekVineyard #DutcherCrossing #FerrariCarano #Forchini #Fritz #GeyserPeak #Gopfrich #Gustafson #Kachina #Kokomo #LambertBridge #Malm #ManzanitaCreek #Mortorana #Mauritson #Mazzocco #MichelSchlumberger #MillCreek #MountsFamily #PapapietroPerry #Pedroncelli #Peterson #Quivira #ARafanelli #RidgeLyttonSprings #RoadHouse #Rued #Sbragia #Seghesio #Selby #Talty #FTeldeschi #TrattoreFarms #TruettHurst #WestWines #Wilson #Zichichi #Vineyards #Winery #Cellars #Wines #Event #WineTasting #FoodPairing



April in Carneros – Wine, Food and Entertainment

Springtime is a fabulous season to visit wine country; there are lots of classic events including ‘April in Carneros.’ 

Carneros is where the San Francisco Bay meets Napa Valley and Sonoma County to produce the some of the finest cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sparkling wines in Northern California. But the Carneros wine region is becoming even more with new forages into Grenache, Merlot and Petite Syrah wines that are expanding Carneros fans everyday.

During April in Carneros various wineries in Sonoma County and Napa Valley will be showcasing their wines with food pairings and music. The Carneros Wine Alliance, the organizer for this event bills it as “Where Everyone’s a VIP!”

For incredible views, two of my favorite wineries are Gloria Ferrer and Schug Carneros Estate.  Both of these wineries feature elevated views of the Carneros wine region.  Gloria Ferrer is scheduled to be featuring sliders from Black Bean BBQ and acoustic pop music from No Buenos. Schug Carneros Estate is slated to serve Greek Lentil Salad and Asian Noodle Salad from Oliver’s Market to the sounds of The Movers

To visit families that embody the Mexican heritage that has dominated viticulture in both Sonoma County and Napa Valley for generations stop by Ceja Vineyards and Robledo Family Winery. Ceja Vineyards is an ultra premium Latino family owned winery founded by Amelia, Pedro, Armando and Martha Ceja producing a diverse range of award-winning varietal and blended wines from their estate grown grapes. Or experience a true “American Dream” at Robledo Family Winery and visit the first tasting room in the United States established by a former Mexican migrant vineyard worker and his family. Both of these wineries are scheduled to showcase their heritage in food and music. These wineries make you feel like family.

Carneros is also a great location for local history with locations like Larson Family Winery, once the home the largest rodeo in Northern California, its barn turned tasting room is still full of memorabilia. This fun-loving, country-easy, family-style winery is a great place to kick off your boots and relax with a great glass of wine.

For more history, visit the sister wineries of Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Cline Cellars produces rich, distinctive Rhône-style wines and intense Zinfandels served in an 1850’s style farm house tasting room with a California Missions Museum. Across the road, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards’ tasting room houses a premiere event venue and is named for founding Jacuzzi brothers (famous for the bath and spa products that bear their name). The winery is noted for its Italian varietals that showcase the Jacuzzi heritage.

The Bonneau family has been farming the Carneros region since the 1920’s originally a dairy farm and country store with vineyards replacing the dairy over the years. Since 2002 Bonneau Wines has produced their own label Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. 

There are many other great finds in Carneros from one-man wineries like Homewood Winery; to the boutique wineries in the beautiful Cornerstone Sonoma facility including Keating WinesMeadowcroft Wines and Poseidon Vineyard / Obsidian Ridge Winery; and wineries serving chocolate like Ty Caton.  In addition to the Sonoma County side of Carneros, Starmont Winery will be pouring on Sunday from their Napa Valley Tasting Room.

Tickets are available through many of the winery’s websites as well as the Carneros Wine Alliance

#AprilinCarneros #CarnerosWineAlliance #Carneros #SonomaCounty #NapaValley #Wines #Winery #Vineyards #Springtime #BonneauWines #CejaVineyards #ClineCellars #GloriaFerrer #HomewoodWinery #JacuzziFamilyVineyards #KeatingWines #LarsonFamilyWinery #MeadowcroftWines #PoseidonVineyard #ObsidianRidgeWinery #RobledoFamilyWinery #SchugCarnerosEstate #StarmontWinery #TyCatonVineyards







Bubbles and Blooms

Do you love to entertain, plant a vegetable garden or make beautiful floral arrangements? Don’t miss the First Annual Bubbles and Blooms Festival at Gloria Ferrer Winery on April 9, 2016.

Image solving your entertaining DIY projects while enjoying a glass of Gloria Ferrer’s award-winning sparkling wine and tidbits from local chef, Beth Sogaard. Beth will be preparing Lobster Stuffed Mini Potatoes, Duck and Gingered Vegetable “Springrolls”, Scallop Skewers, Curry Station, Samosas Deconstructed and much more.  I can’t wait to try pairing these morsels with Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wines to find new options for my next party.

Flower Magazine, the nation’s only floral lifestyle publication, inspires, educates, and entertains readers with a point of view that stems from seeing the world through a botanical lens.  The Flower Magazine experts will be on hand to demostrate creative floral arranging, displays, wreaths, and more.  In one of their recent articles, Flower Magazine author, Bobby McApline talks about how he integrates houses within landscape and a garden’s role in architecture. They always inspire me to incorporate my garden into entertaining plans whether it is for an indoor floral arrangement or planning a garden party.


At Bubbles and Bloom Festival there will be a Floral Arranging Presentation with Kiana Underwood of Tulipina and Flower Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Margot Shaw. Kiana Underwood, one of the most sought-after floral designers in the United States, will tell her story on how she became the distinguished floral artist and inspiration she is today. Join with Ms. Underwood and Ms. Shaw to learn how to create the most stunning floral arrangements with their insider tips.

Sunset Magazine Senior Garden Editor, Johanna Silver, will reveal Sunset Magazines’ new Test Garden. Get the inside scoop on this inpirational space that will soon be the roadmap for gardens around the country. Stay for a little Q&A to discuss tips on best practices, design shortcuts and so much more. 

Local experts will also be on hand to steer you in the right direction for spring flower/vegetable gardens and outdoor living spaces that consider the Northern California climate and soils. These experts know Northern California and can turn that knowledge into practical advice. Deborah Thomas from Sonoma Mission Gardens will delight you with her humorous approach to planting and demonstrate how to create gorgeous flower filled baskets and containers in her container gardening seminar.  Additional local experts will cover topics from seed planting techniques to wreaths and leis.

Still need more inspiration, then peruse the on-site garden market for plants and fresh arrangements to get you started enhancing your home. You can look like a professional with minimum effort.

Listen to live music by Ragtime Sullivan Duo while you enjoy another glass of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine. Have a little fun at the Photo Selfie Station, feast your eyes on one of a kind Floral Art Showpieces, make your own wine cork succulent magnets, ask any garden related questions at the Garden Expert booth, and get a chance to win glorious Raffle Prizes.

This is a not-to-be-missed event. Cheers to Spring!

#GloriousBlooms #BeGlorious #GloriaFerrer #FlowerMagazine #SunsetMagazine #Flowers #FloralArrangements #Spring #Summer #Gardens #Vegetables #Outdoor #Entertainment #LocalExperts #Sparkling #Wine #Bubbles #Blooms #SonomaMissionGardens #Chef #WineTasting #FoodPairing



Art of Oak

Robert Young Estate Winery by artist Bob JohnsonThe Wine Road is celebrating its 40th (Ruby) Anniversary with a series of events / parties this year, but my favorite has to be the Art of Oak which will be previewing this weekend at DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa.

Pictured to the left by artist Bob Johnson for Sponsor Robert Young Estate Winery is a propane fire pit with fireproof cover on wheels. The artisans were asked to meet with the sponsors but were left to their own creativity to develop the art work they presented.

The art work ranges from paintings to sculptures and includes many local artisans, like Sonoma Barrel Designs.  I visited these talents artists awhile back and became enchanted with their work.  For the Art of Oak they produced four pieces that include a framed map of Rochioli Vineyards made from the only type of barrels they use, a kitchen cart for the Stark Family Restaurants, an exquisite bench with an inlaid wine bottle on the seat for Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and the pièce de résistance is a playable child’s harp set in an artistic archway that not only plays music but lights up as well – made for the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts Children’s Art Program. 

The 40 barrels were sponsored by a variety of organizations / businesses locally for $500 & could have been purchased outright (sight unseen) by the sponsor for another $500, which many businesses did. Those not purchased are for sale during the Art of Oak at a price suggested by the artist and comparable to the work involved. Those items not sold during the Art of Oak will be auctioned off the huge gala – A Ruby Affair to be held in May.

After this weekend’s preview at DeLoach Vineyards, the barrels will be moved to 40 separate locations around the county and will be available their for viewing and photography.  The Wine Road will be hosting a contest for this event (sign up for their newsletter) and there will be a special give away by the Wine Road on Instagram – see my Instagram for details beginning February 16.

The proceeds of the sale of the barrels will benefits the Children’s Art Program at the Well’s Fargo Center for the Arts. For additional information on their programs related to music and art, contact the Center directly to become more involved

The barrel above was created by artist Graham Doran for sponsor Selby Winery.  Using the wood from barrels and compressing it into a block, it was then carved into a Texas Longhorn (Susie Selby is from Texas) by hand.  The horns are twisted metal from the barrel metal bands.  The barrel to the right was created by artist Amy Curley for sponsor H2Hotel.

Artists included: Andrew Thomas, Amy Curley, Arturo Monroy, Austin Hawley, Bob Johnson, Brendon Vogel, Bryan Tedrick, Candida Saniorenzo / John Arteaga, Debey Zito, Denee Locke, Francis Reese, Gary La Bonte, Graham Doran, Hillary Williams, John Ton, Julius Orth, Katherine Henderson, Lizabeth Kirby, Mark Thomas, Maureen Erickson, Maxfield Bala, Michael Dirk Risch, Mylette Welch, Nancy Woods, Nicky Ovit, Olivia Boyd, Paula Strother, Rob Macy, Ryan Taylor, Sheryl Melendy, Sonoma Barrel Décor & Design Co, Terry Schmit, Toby Johnson, Travis Kubota Ursula Xanthe Young, and Zach Rhodes

Sponsors included: A Rafanelli Winery, ACORN Winery / Alegria Vineyards, Balletto Vineyards, Big John’s Market, Brad & Robin Calkins, Camellia Inn, Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, Cokas Diko Home, Courtyard By Marriott, Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty, Doubletree by Hilton, Dry Creek General Store, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Garrett Ace Hardware, H2Hotel, Hook & Ladder Winery, Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel + Spa, J Rickards Winery, Kokomo Winery, Leap Solutions Group, Left Coast Marketing, Madrone Manor, Merriam Vineyards, Papapietro Perry Winery, Paradise Ridge Winery, Robert Young Estate Winery, Rochioli Winery, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Selby Winery, Sonoma Country Tourism, Sonoma Wine Country Leap Solutions, Sonoma Jet Center, Stark Reality Restaurants, Starlight Vineyards, Toad Hollow Vineyards, Topel Winery, Vanguard Properties, Vintners Inn, and Wells Fargo Center for the Arts

Locations for all of the barrels will be available on the Wine Road website by Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

#ArtofOak #WineRoad #RoadtoRuby #WineRoad40 #DiscoverSonomaCountyWine #DSCWine #Art #SonomaCounty #WellsFargoCenterfortheArts #Artists #WineBarrels #SonomaBarrel  

Happy 40th (Ruby) Anniversary to the Wine Road

“The Road to Ruby,” a year-long 40th Anniversary celebration of the Wine Road begins this month with the 24th Annual Winter Wineland.

WR_Logo_CIRCLE_FinalOriginally a group of nine (9) wineries in the Russian River Valley lead by the tenatious Mildred (Millie) Howie, the Wine Road began its quest to promote the wineries of Northern Sonoma County in 1976. Today, its “heaven condensed” group consists of 200 wineries and 54 lodgings in approximately 30 mile radius of Northern Sonoma County.  While not actually a “road” in the sense of a single, continuous stretch of paved highway, the Wine Road is a treasure map to the many jewels nestled within the Alexander Valley AVA, Dry Creek Valley AVA, and Russian River Valley AVA of Northern Sonoma County.  In addition, to their great wine maps & concierge services they host more than 25,000 guests annually through their three primary events – A Wine & Food Affair, Winter Wineland and Barrel Tasting.

In 2016, the Wine Road will host monthly events and promotions:

  • January
    • Winter Wineland, Jan 16-17th – #Wineland2016
    • Breakfast with the Winemakers
  • February
    • Three (3) day ticket to the Wine Road on sale for $40 (normally $60)
    • Art of Oak – Oak Barrel Art on display at 40 wineries – #ArtofOak
    • Alexander Valley Winegrowers AVA Tasting – focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon – #AVCabAcademy
  • March
    • Barrel Tasting Weekends, Mar 4-6th & Mar 11-13th – #WRBT2016
    • Breakfast with the Winemakers
  • April
    • Wine Road Selfie Contest – #MyWineRoad
  • May
    • The Ruby Affair – 40th Anniversary Gala & Dinner – #WRrubyaffair
  • June
    • Magical Mystery Tours – #MagicalMysteryTours
  • July
    • 40 Years of Cheer – Community Celebration in Healdsburg with Wine Tasting – #40YearsofCheers
  • August
    • Scavenger Hunt Contest – #WRScavengerHunt
    • Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley Tasting – focusing on Zinfandel – #DCVTasteZin
  • September
    • CA Wine Month – a celebration of the diversity of varietals available on the Wine Road – #CAWineMonth
  • October
    • Russian River Valley Winegrowers Tasting – focusing on Pinot Noir & Chardonnay – #RRVTasting
  • November
    • Wine & Food Affair, November 6-7th – #WFA2016
    • Breakfast with the Winemakers
  • December
    • Redwood Empire Food Bank – Instant Wine Cellar Raffle – #REFBinstantcellar

BobbyMany of the events are very limited and will sell out fast, be sure to watch the Wine Road website for ticket availability.  Most events go on sale about 60 days prior to the event.

Sonoma County is one of the original American wine regions and few counties have more of the character of old California.  Grapes and wine have been integral to Sonoma County’s history but they are also the harbinger of its future with many state-of-the-art facilities blended with historical families that work to provide a sustainable industry in an viticultural area that is proud of its diversity of soils, micro-climates, and winemakers.  Whether your style is a small boutique winery or an elegant chateaux, world-class wines are available throughout Sonoma County and the Wine Road has been instrumental in promoting and showcasing the Northern Sonoma County wines.

Sign up for the Wine Road newsletter to hear about the monthly contests to win Wine Road gifts or tickets by posting festive photos of the Wine Road member wineries or their wine.  Details of the monthly specifices are included in each month’s newsletter.  Entries are submitted on Social Media or by emailing them to

The Wine Road always contributes graciously to local charites and a frequent recipient of their philanthropy is the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) with donations of more than $300,000 in the past eight (8) years & a goal for an additional $200,000 during their “Road to Ruby” celebrations. In addition to their partnership with the REFB, Wine Road donates to 80–100 different non-profits annually. This contribution does not include the thousands of dollars in wine, tours, dinners, lodging and more that our members donate each year to numerous charities, locally and nationally.

In 2016 additional charities that will benefit from the proceeds of activites & donations include the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts Child’s Art Program (via Art of Oak), United Way of Wine Country & Worth Our Weight (via the Ruby Affair) and Becoming Independent (via 40 Years of Cheers).

Anytime is the right time to come and visit Sonoma County and the Wine Road Wineries and Lodgings.  Take lots of photos because you will want to remember this fabulous area and to become famous (at least to us) by sharing your visit.  Use hashtags to have your best postings recognized and featured on Twitter or Instagram.  Here are some of the hashtags (#WineRoad #WineRoad40th #RoadtoRuby) to use to have your best postings featured on our social media.  You can also tag @theWineRoad or me (@JolenesPatter) (@DiscoverSonomaCountyWine).

#DiscoverSonomaCountyWine #SonomaCounty #WineRoad #WineRoad40th #RoadtoRuby #SonomaCountyVintners #SonomaCountyWinegrowers #DiscoverRRV #RussianRiverValley #AlexanderValley #DryCreekValley #CabernetSauvignon #PinotNoir #Chardonnay #Zinfandel #SauvignonBlanc #Wines #Winery #Wineries #WineTasting

Holiday Shopping in Wine Country

Wine Caddies at Imagery Winery, Kenwood CA

Wine Caddies at Imagery Winery include Cowboys, Firemen, Chefs, Cyclists, Golfers, Pilots, Fishermen, Pets, Boaters and many more – great selection of a unique gift item for the wine lover in your family

Whether looking for a gift for your favorite wine lover, friend, or pet – Wineries have more to offer than just fabulous wines.  I went out over the weekend to find some great last minute gifts from some of my favorite spots.  If you have another treasure, I’d love to hear about it. Wine Tasting while Gift Shopping is the perfect combination to reduce stress during the Holidays.

Glassware and Decanters are always a popular idea featuring seasonal or wine designs, these items will enhance any party or provide a great hostess gift.  A couple of my favorite spots for glassware include J Winery (especially for sparkling stemware) an Cast Wines, both also feature beautiful decanters.


J Winery, Sparkling Wine Glassware and Carriers


Cast Wines Decanters and Glassware








Hostess Gifts, Household Designer Items, and Wine Country Souvenirs are available in both the Ferrari Carano Showrooms.  Their downtown Healdsburg location, called Seasons of the Vineyard Wine Shop specializes in the household & hostess gifts as well as chocolate while the Dry Creek Valley Tasting Room at the Winery has beautiful Wine Country souvenirs, large format and library wine selections. Also note the Wine Caddies featured in the opening photo from Imagery Winery – these unique items are beautifully made and feature a variety of professions and hobbies. One final location with a great gift shop is at St. Francis Winery – they feature a lot of local artisans.


Ferrari Carano Wine Country Souvenirs, Large Format Wines & Library Wines


Season of the Vineyard Hostess Gifts & Household Gifts – I Love the Glass Sushi Trays









Artwork featuring wine themes and many local artisans are featured at many wineries, especially during our Art Walks, but wineries that have regular installations for sale include Passaggio Winery and Thumbprint Cellars. I am sure there are many others and traveling displays are often featured during special events.  I love to hear about your favorite as this is a gift I purchase all year long.


Thumbprint Cellars’ year-round galary of local artists is unique, they also feature glassware and candles


Passaggio Winery is current featuring Sandra Speidel’s Motion Series & Custom Chocolates









Olive Oil is another staple in Wine Country with an affinity for similar growing conditions grapes and olives co-exist well.  Flavored Olive Oils, usually blood orange, lime, or lemon, and green to aged oil varieties are available directly from the source.  Two of my favorite spots to pick up these goodies are the Gourmet Shop at BR Cohn Winery and Trattore’s New Tasting Room in Dry Creek Valley.  Also look for other gourmet foods and vinegars.


B.R Cohn Winery and Olive Oil Company – Check out their Gourmet Shop next to the Winery


Trattore Winery & Dry Creek Olive Oil Company have a beautiful new Tasting Room in Dry Creek Valley









Finally, if you are a Sparkling Wine fan and have taken up the saber to learn The Art of Sabrage for New Years, then get ready for modern designs to traditional Nepoleon inspired styles at many of our Sparkling Tasting Rooms and Wineries, including Sigh Sonoma, Cast Wines, and Breathless Wines.


Sigh Sonoma features Laguiole (French) sabers as well as domestic and international bubbles


Breathless Tasting Room features Sabrage Demonstrations during events with Italian blades









If we make it through Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years, I guess we can start looking for chocolates for Valentines Day.  I’m always ready for Chocolate too.

#ImageryWinery #JWinery #CastWines #StFrancisWinery #FerrariCarano #ThumbprintCellars #PassaggioWinery #BRCohn #Trattore #DryCreekOliveOil #SighSonoma #BreathlessWines #RackandRiddle #Holiday #Shopping #Winery #Wineries #Wine #Glassware #Stemware #Decanters #OliveOil #Art #WineArt #Saber #Sabrage #SparklingWine #Bubbles #Chocolate #Hostess #Gifts #Household #Souvenirs #Wines #LargeFormat #LibraryWine

Fort Ross Wine Festival 2015

photo ~ Fort Ross Conservancy

photo ~ Fort Ross Conservancy

Fort Ross-Seaview Harvest Festival will be held on October 17th 2015 10am-5pm PST.  Harvest is the time to enjoy autumn’s fresh air with friends and family, acknowledging all that the seasons provide us.

In addition to the spectacular Fort Ross-Seaview Wine Tasting and Grand Luncheon, the day offers a wide variety of activities suitable for all ages:  Song, dance, and gentle apple harvesting in the historic orchard; Horse and buggy rides; Interpretive talks by dedicated experts on the historic orchard, replica windmill, and the Alaskan marine history at Ross; Working demonstration of replica Russian-style windmill; Demonstration boat build of a traditional nigilax, an open kayak used by the Alaska Natives at Fort Ross; Food trucks with delicious seasonal fare for sale; Local samples of heirloom apples, apple cider, apple baked goods, Sonoma cheese, and more; Su Nu Nu Shinal Kashia Pomo dances; Lovely Eastern European harmonies of Kitka Women’s Ensemble; Russian House Kedry demonstrating old world Russian cooking, song, and dance; Alaska Native demonstrate their crafts; and Historic Russian crafts, communal dances. Something to interest everyone in the family.

Grand Wine Tasting (12pm-4pm, $40 per person)

LogoPresenting a remarkable selection of wines grown in the FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW VITICULTURAL AREA that consists of the steep ridge top vineyards that overlook the Pacific Ocean and produce wines of structure, balance and finesse. The Grand Tasting features local grape growers and winemakers, and a chance to meet and greet the people behind the wines. Includes cheese sampling with Omar Mueller of Freestone Artisan Cheese and Sonoma County cheesemakers. Wineries Pouring in the Tasting Tent:

Flowers Vineyard and Winery – Michelle Forry
Flowers Chardonnay 2013 Camp Meeting Ridge Estates
Flowers Pinot Noir 2013 Camp Meeting Ridge Estates
Flowers Pinot Noir 2013 Sea View Ridge Estates 2013

Fort Ross Vineyard – Linda and Lester Schwartz
2013 Fort Ross Vineyard Chardonnay
2012 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir Special Cuvée “Top of Land”
2012 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir Special Cuvée “Stage Coach Road”
2010 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinotage

Kutch Wines – Jamie Kutch
Kutch Pinot Noir 2013 Sonoma Coast
Kutch Pinot Noir 2013 McDougall Ranch
Kutch Pinot Noir 2013 Bohan Vineyard

Martinelli Winery – Mary Rodgers
Martinelli Chardonnay 2009 Three Sisters Vineyard
Martinelli Chardonnay 2012 Charles Ranch
Martinelli Pinot Noir 2012 Three Sisters Vineyard

Precious Mountain Vineyard / Williams Selyem Winery
Williams Selyem Winery Pinot Noir 2013 Precious Mountain

Raen Winery
2014 RAEN Pinot Noir Fort Ross Seaview Home Field

Tin Barn Vineyards
Syrah 2012 Sonoma Coast, Coryelle Fields
Rose of Syrah 2014  “Joon” Rose of Syrah, Sonoma Coast, Coryelle Fields

Wayfarer – Cleo Pahlmeyer and Todd Kohn
Wayfarer Chardonnay 2013 Wayfarer Vineyard
Wayfarer Pinot Noir 2013 Wayfarer Vineyard

Wild Hog Vineyard – Daniel and Marion Schoenfeld
Wild Hog Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2011
Wild Hog Vineyard Estate Zinfandel 2012
Wild Hog Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Vista

Grand Luncheon (1pm-3pm, $125 per person) Advanced Purchase Required:

Includes a four-course meal of seasonal fare expertly paired with wines from the area, prepared by renowned local chefs and served on a marine terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Includes entrance to Grand Tasting and Fort Ross Harvest Festival activities. Grand Luncheon tickets are available by advance purchase only and will sell out.


Grand Luncheon Menu

First course prepared by Barbara Hom
Trio of Corn: Chilled Soup of Corn Essence, Shellfish Oil
Corn and Crab Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, Cilantro Lime Dressing, Chive Oil
Corn and Cheese Tuille
Wine pairing: Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2013

Second course prepared by Andrew and Liya Truong, Michelin star chefs at Terrapin Creek Cafe
Marinated Black Cod served with sunchoke and potato puree, roasted mushrooms and celery
Wine pairing: Wild Hog Estate Pinot Noir 2011 and Fort Ross Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2013

Third course prepared by Michele Anna Jordan
Grilled Sonoma County butterflied leg of lamb with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, smoked paprika, and a coriander and black pepper rub, accompanied by a warm farro salad with local Merguez, cherry tomatoes, local sheep milk yogurt, red onion, Italian parsley, smoked paprika and preserved lemon
Wine pairing: Piazza Del Dotto Pinot Noir 2013 and Wild Hog Estate Zinfandel 2012

Dessert prepared by Jamil Pedan, Applewood Inn
Buttermilk panna cotta with chardonnay poached quince, candied orange zest, puffed amaranth, and brown butter
Wine pairing: 2013 Fort Ross Late Harvest Chardonnay

Photo ~ Fort Ross Conservancy

Photo ~ Fort Ross Conservancy


About Fort Ross Conservancy
Fort Ross Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and California State Park Cooperating Association whose mission is to promote educational, environmental, and interpretive activities at Fort Ross State Historic Park and Salt Point State Park. Fort Ross Conservancy (FRC) has been in operation since 1973 and relies solely on income from grants, memberships, donations, and bookshop revenue. With funding from the Renova Fort Ross Foundation, FRC has overseen significant restoration in the historic orchard and is managing the creation of the Fort Ross Historic Orchard Management Plan being developed by esteemed National Parks and State Parks experts. FRC is wholly independent but works in accordance with its cooperating agreement with California State parks pursuant to California State Public Resources Code 513.
For more information on park attraction hours, activities, events, parking and driving directions please visit  http://www.fortross. org/info.htm.

IMG_9591About Fort Ross Seaview Winegrowers Association
FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW WINEGROWERS ASSOCIATION is an association of local grape growers and wineries dedicated to farming “coastal cool” grapes on the very edge of the continent. Here the vineyards are like islands in the sunshine above a sea of coastal fog that nips at their edges during the long, slow and temperate grape growing season. The maritime climate of the area is ideal for growing wine grapes of the highest caliber. The vineyards here produce pure, focused fruit with lively acidity, minerality and nuanced tannins. These exceptional grapes produce internationally acclaimed wines of balance, character, structure and finesse that tempt the palate with their elegance. See or email us at