Tag Archives: #Wine

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

Steve Heimoff – A Fellow Blogger

IMG_1993-CropSteve Heimoff graced a receptive audience at Fog Crest Vineyards during their October ‘First Friday’ celebration reading from and signing one of his early books, ‘A Wine Journey Along the Russian River.’

The evening started innocently enough at the beautiful venue with the Indian Summer sun and lovely wines pleasantly warming everyone into relaxation. Steve was chatting in his easy manner with early guests, while Jérôme Chéry (winemaker), Rosalind Manoogian (owner), and Nessia Flugger (Director of DTC OperatioIMG_1986ns) poured Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from their Russian River Valley lineup.  Guests lounged as we do on a Friday night after a long week’s work enjoying savory and sweet crepes from Ultra Crepes, signing the ‘guest book’ wine barrel, and strolling the rose garden.

If you are not familiar with Steve Heimoff, this was the short biography that Jackson Family Winery offered in May 2014 when they announced that Steve joined them as  Director, Wine Communications & Education.  “Heimoff joins Jackson Family Wines after 22 years at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, most of them as California Editor. Previously, Heimoff wrote for Wine Spectator Magazine. Born in New York City, Heimoff moved to San Francisco in 1979 to attend graduate school and it was there that he discovered and nurtured his passion for wine.  Heimoff has written two books for University of California Press: A Wine Journey along the Russian River, and New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff. In addition, his daily wine blog, steveheimoff.com, is one of the most widely read in the country.” Steve is a journalist and someone that most, if not all of us that play at writing look to as a role model on the right way to approach this trade!

DSCN1909I was star-struck asking this journalist for his autograph. I had met Steve briefly at the Russian River Valley Pinot Classic and purchased his book after he read an excert during a seminar. In reading The Journey, I realized that although I had lived and studied wine in Sonoma County for almost 40 years, I still had volumes of research to begin to understand our beautiful wines and vineyards.   A small lull in the activity left Steve alone for a moment while James Manoogian (Fog Crest owner) secured another glass of Pinot for him. I took my chance to slide in unnoticed. No such luck!

DSCN6515-SmAs I handed Steve my book, the Fog Crest media team bounced in and said ‘smile,’ camera in hand. Recovering from the surprise photo, Steve was asking my name which I knew, including the spelling, but then the guillotine fell as he asked what do you do? I polite, friendly question, not meant to accuse someone who for the first time in so many years was without a well-defined profession. I blurted out that I was a wine blogger and cringed at having said it outloud to him.  Steve smiled kindly ignoring my obvious discomfort started writing. Imagine how horrified I was to read the inscription he returned to me – now I have an obligation, a responsibility to write clearly, and produce content that matters, if I am to be anyone’s fellow blogger, especially Steve’s.

DSCN6213For everyone else, it was a wonderful evening, Steve went on to regale us with stories of how he almost died twice traversing the Russian River on his own personal discover during the writing of his book.  The Russian River is our Loire, our Rhône, our Rhine, our Mosel, our Douro – it is our wine river, the one that tells the story of our people, our climate, our geography, our culture, and our wines. It is a terrific little book!

Fog Crest Vineyards hosts ‘First Friday’ throughout the year; I would highly recommend stopping by to visit this venue, try the wine, and perhaps bring along a book to read while you are relaxing on the patio at sunset.

#FogCrestVineyards #Wine #Winery #RussianRiverValley #SteveHeimoff

Vitcultural Drones – Just Another Tractor?

MulticopterNature’s signs are ever present in the Kunde Family Vineyard as Sonoma County’s harvest approaches with copious amounts of ripening grapes, yellowing leaves, and hungry birds.  But the morning air whispers a subtle mechanical sound as a 3D Robotics‘ autonomous multicoper lands among the vines.

Drone news is often military related, but drones can be used for everything from agriculture to delivering pizza.  2014 Precision Aerial Ag Show drew 1,000 midwest farmers.  With concerns about privacy the FAA has postponed final discussions on drone regulations until 2015. Current FAA restrictions allow farmers to operate an unmanned aircraft over their own property for personal use under 400 feet and outside 3 miles of an airport.  Japan is extensively using drones in agriculture. 3D Robotics wants farmers to use drones the way they would any piece of farming equipment and is creating products to meet those agricultural needs.

Ryan Kunde, 5th generGrapes Smallation viticulturist and winemaker from DRNK Wines, is surveying the grapes to be harvested in the Kunde Family Vineyards near the old winery ruins in the Sonoma Valley AVA. Kunde Family Vineyards is a remarkably diverse 1,850 acre farm with less than 40% of its land devoted to vineyards and topography that varies from 1400 foot mountain tops, to rolling hills, to a valley floor. The vineyard acreage is home to around 20 varietals grown in a volcanic band of “Red Hill” soil.  Ryan is very familiar with this large vineyard, he grew up here among these sustainably-grown vines talking easily about the the land, the lakes and grapes in a knowledgeable but unpretentious manner.  But today he wants a bird’s eye view of these vineyards to help him assess areas of vigor and stress, because he needs to determine harvest timing and row locations.

This time of the year, growers and winemakers alike are walking the vineyards sampling the fruit and making tDrone 1 Whiteheir most important decision of the year – when to harvest.  But is that really the only question? More and more I am hearing that separating the grapes from different areas of the vineyard so that more complex and interesting wines can be blended at bottling is almost as important as harvest timing. How do you evalutate all of the important or possibly important grape variations within a large vineyard like Kunde Family Vineyards? For Ryan the answer is viticultural drones. Drone photographic images can be accumulated long-term to assess vineyard patterns and perform maintenance. Additionally, they can be used for on-demand aerial images as he is doing today.

Imaging 2Images are created from autonomous, fixed-wing planes and multicopters with a point-and-shoot camera mounted inside. 3D Robotoics software then stitched the images together to generate the 3D model of the vineyard. Color variations in the 3D photographic model of vineyard help select sampling areas for possible seaparation during harvest.  Then it was back to the manual process and out into the vineyard to pick grapes to test for harvest readiness, using additional tools of the harvest (refractometer).

SamplingDrones are obviously not a replacement for a knowledgeable vineyard manager or winemaker, but another farming tool.  Drones can be a cost-effective solution in difficult terrains, newly acquired vineyards, or large properties to assess areas for manual evaluation or maintenance.  This evaluation can include watering or fertilizations requirements, pest control, general vineyard vigor, or harvest readiness. Ryan can send vineyard workers with guided GPS to specific areas of the vineyard to work and make informed decision about grapes to be separated during harvest so that he has the ability to make better decisions and better wine once the grapes are back in the winery.

Imagery is not uncommon to agriculture, but hiring planes or using satellite technology is more expensive and subject to weather and timing.  Planes often need to be hired weeks in advance and satellite images are difficult when clouds interfere.

Drones technology is moving to meet this agricultural need with two trends drivening drone expansion (and reducing pricing) one is open source technology and second is the development of the Maker Movement for do-it-yourself (DIY) techies. Ryan’s interest in technology began with a childhood interest in radio-controlled cars. Today, he owns automous fixed-wing planes and is beta-testing multicopters both models equiped with GPS location systems and point-and-shoot camera technology (Go-Pro).

The most important factor in any harvest is still the man or woman guiding the process, our wonderfully talented growers and winemakers, but using every available tool to make the best decision can give you an edge.  Ryan is producing some incredible wines with a complexity that I love.  So perhaps it isn’t just another tractor, but a new innovative tool to allow a talented winemaker to improve his winemaking starting in the vineyard!

3D Robotics Logo 3D Robotics was started in 2009 by Chris Anderson, former Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine, and Jostrdi Muñoz.  At 20, Muñoz hacked a Nintendo Wii controller, wrote his own code, and equipped a remote helicopter with microcomputer boards to build the first-ever autopiloted drone. He recorded the flight with a camera and uploaded the video to a new website called DIYdrones.com, which was created by Chris Anderson. After Anderson saw the video, he sent the young inventor $500 so Muñoz could continue his work.  Without ever meeting in person the duo started VC-backed 3D Robotics 2009.  3D Robotics is vertically integrated and manufactures its own hardware and software. While vertical integration increases up front development costs, it offers greater control for the company to market its products to specific industries, such as agriculture.

DRNK Wines PNis a Dougherty-Kunde family partnership with Dale Dougherty, Ryan Kunde, Nancy C. Dougherty and Katie Kunde. DRNK uses the latest winemaking techniques to create elegantly crafted and balanced wines, each expressing a focused sense of place. The inaugural release of DRNK’s Cavers Cuvee Pinot Noir received a 97 at the North Coast Wine Challenge.  Ryan says, “Winemaking begins in the vineyard, and we begin evaluating our fruit from the time of inception to harvest from all perspectives, from under root to over the canopy. An intimate relationship with the fruit continues through crush as each lot is carefully hand harvested and sorted in the vineyard and again at the winery before crushing. All fermentations are carried out in small batches and punched down by hand. The wines are then transferred to barrel in our underground cellar, an ideal winemaking environment. The utmost care and consideration is given to each barrel individually before final blends are made.”   Tours & Tasting by appointment only.  Taste@drnkwines.com or call 707.889.1000

#DRNKWines #3DRobotics #Wine #Drones #Viticulture #SCHarvest14