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  Sonoma County     [all categories]
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  More than simple tastings

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Author Topic:   More than simple tastings
posted 02-24-2011 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
As we have been discussing these new( to us) places on the other threads, I have been taking note that many of them offer some sort of "extra" option...Bella, for instance, has the tastings in a cave, which I think is kinda neat, and there are a couple where you are actually invited to do a walking tour of the vineyard on your own; that surprised me a bunch, and I can't put my finger on those notes right now but will follow up on that. I'd think that the liability potential would be too big so there must be a catch.
Mauritson in part of a group that offers self-guided vineyard tours, they give you a map to follow as you go through; that is part of a county program and its free as far as I know.

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 02-24-2011).]


posted 02-06-2011 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Oh, I had forgotten about them doing it at Stryker, damambo, but I recall it there as well. It was more like a presentation at St. Francis with a separate table and a display; at Stryker it was more of an informal thing just set up at the bar, but they focused on the same thing.
I have read, but not experienced, that there is a really cute spot out near the coast that does a cheese pairing - they are actually trying to promote the cheese, so I guess the wine is the extra here. My understanding is that its a little hole in the wall place out Bohemian Highway. I was looking for the name in my old notes, but can't find it.

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 02-06-2011).]


posted 02-06-2011 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Once when we were tasting at Stryker, they had an aroma test that was fun and educational - perhaps the same thing you were talking about, yesilovewine. They had wine glasses set upside down over little bottles. They would have you lift the glass and sniff like you would for a glass of wine. Our kids (daughter, son, daughter-in-law) were with us and old ma and pa were the champs - our noses could pick out the various aromas better than those young noses. They were suitably impressed for a while, until they decided we were just wineauxs...


posted 02-02-2011 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
I had my thinking cap on today and realized that I had not mentioned one of our favorite stops- Loxton. Chris Loxton was born and reared in a wine making Australian family and he is a really nice guy. His tastings are free, and he offers chocolate to pair with his Shiraz wines.
If you want to really experience a one-man show, this is it...
Also, in the Green River area, DeLoach offers a seated tasting with small bites, its not free, but the seating area is separate from the regular tasting room. They also offer a picnic basket option- you call ahead and order the basket which they prepare for your arrival. There are several very nice areas for picnicking on their grounds- a covered patio and some creekside
tables. They set you up with food, wine and a place to eat..its a convenient way to break up the day in a nice location. They are out on Olivet Road, which is west of 101 and Santa Rosa.

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 02-02-2011).]


posted 02-01-2011 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
We have not been on the Sonoma side as much as the Napa side, probably 6 to 1 or better, favoring Napa. It has just been in recent years that we have become fans of Zinfandel and that is the wine found on the Sonoma side, especially up around Healdsburg which, again, is where we tend to go on the Sonoma side. We are going to rectify that in March when we again visit wine country with 2 days in Sonoma and 2 days in Napa. 1½ of those days will be spent south of Healdsburg, so we will be visiting mostly new (to us) wineries.

That being said, I can think of only one Sonoma County winery that I consider to have gone above and beyond, and that is the Williamson Winery tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. They not only pour excellent wines, they also provide a food pairing . . . and it is all FREE, and in a very friendly atmosphere. Now, that is a bargain. You may even be treated to a visit by Bill Williamson, the owner of this fine establishment. When you visit, be sure to mention that Hawkeye said this was a "Must" stop and try and get Bill to open a bottle of his $495.00 Cab. I'll bet it is a doozy!

Each time on the Sonoma side, Chatteau St. Jean is a must since it is named for my wife. I would recommend the Vineyard Room tasting of reserve and limited release wines. I believe they are a member of the Visa Signature card group, but whether it would cover this $20.00 tasting or not I do not know. Maybe part of it . . . wouldn't hurt to ask. No appointment needed, but you can make an appointment for a private seated tasting. Chatteau St. Jean also has a very nice shopping area, but make your wife go wait in the car while you "look".

Most of the wineries around Healdsburg pour excellent Zins. However, it would be wise to visit weekdays because weekends are a zoo. We have found Wilson to be a very friendly winery to visit.

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 02-02-2011).]


posted 02-01-2011 12:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
To continue on Hawkeye's list of "Above and Beyond TAstings" for the Sonoma folks...
I thought of these in Sonoma Valley, and I know that there are more in other parts of the County but I can't think of them at this moment.
Benzinger- known for the "Tram Tour"- this is a 45 minute ride on a tractor pulled tram through the vineyards with an educational presentation on biodynamic farming. It ends with a tasting- 4 wines I think are offered. Cost is $15. They also offer a seated Pinot tasting, but since we don't drink Pinots much we haven't done that.

St. Francis Winery- They frequently have small educational displays set up in the tasting room which are very informative and free. The last one we encountered was about aromas and how they affect a wine's flavor. It was really interesting and a good way to kill some time while waiting for room at the tasting bar. They now have 3 wine/food pairing options, one which requires a reservation and 2 that will accept walk-ins if there is room. The prices range from $20 - $35/pp.

Ravenswood- They offer a barrel taste and winery tour, a wine and cheese pairing that includes a guided tour through one of the vineyards, and -my favorite- a blending seminar. If I could just squeeze the time to do that blending seminar....! The seminar is $50/pp and requires a reservation. Not sure about the vineyard walk, but I believe that also requires a reservation, and I think that the barrel taste and tour requests but does not require reservations.

As a side note to all this, there is a program hosted through Wine Road.com called "Ticket to the Wine Road" which can be a very cost effective way to get some of these tours and tastings and winemaker interaction in the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley areas. Basically, you pay a fee and get a ticket for 1,2 or 3 days that is dated. That ticket allows you to get these "perks", if you will, for no additonal cost. Many of the perks do require that you make an appointment- barrel tasting with the owner, seating tasting with the winemaker...things that make perfect sense that you would need an appointment- but if you are a good planner and enjoy those things then do look at the list of participants and see what they currently offer. It is a very good bargain if you plan well and use it to its full advantage. I think the 3 day ticket is something like $45.


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