Sonoma county is absolutely beautiful and between the coast and the rolling hills of vines, we enjoyed the scenery almost as much as the pinot noir and chardonnay!
For two days, we spent the mornings driving along the coast or hiking in the redwoods and the afternoons wine tasting. Talk about best of both worlds! We could have easily spent another two to three days up here with no trouble. Below is a list of the wineries we made it to…
Moshin Vineyards— Recommended by one of the owners of the Applewood Inn (where we stayed), it was a solid start to our wine tasting in the Russian River Valley. The hummingbird theme was carried throughout the property with different whimsical sculptures. The staff pouring wine were personable and recommended several other wineries that we should try. A terrific deal on the Zinfandel meant we came home with a case! Purchased:’08 Zinfindel (12)
Thomas George Estates—While I liked the wines here, this was the least memorable of the places we visited on this trip. However, I will be using the little cloth bag they gave me when we purchased a bottle. Purchased: ’08 RRV Pinot Noir
Twomey Cellars—As part of the Silver Oak family, this place really knows their red wines. Our favorite was the ’08 Sonoma Coast designate. And the view from the tasting room doesn’t hurt either. Purchased: ’08 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (2)
J Vineyards— The only place that still charged us for the wine tasting (even though we purchased half a case from them), the wine was still excellent and the surroundings quite pleasant with a contemporary building and landscaping outside. Our hostess went above and beyond the normal listed tasting and had us comparing sparkling wines from different vintages as well as some lovely Pinot Gris. Purchased:’09 Cooper Vineyard Pinot Gris (2), ’03 Brut Magnum, ’08 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, ’07 Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
cherry trees in front of J Vineyards
Pellegrini Family Vineyards— We started our Saturday here and had the place to ourselves for much of the visit. Their location amidst old Zinfandel vines was very picturesque. This was also one of the only places we visited where Eric was able to taste more than two whites! :) One of the local wine shops near us has a few of this vineyard’s wines for sale, so we new what to expect when we walked in the door and we were not disappointed. Our hostess was a wealth of information about both the family and the wines, and we really enjoyed tasting the wines with barrels towering over us. We had made an appointment in advance and we found out that these barrels are the reason they are required to have appointments- in reality, you can make an appointment when you enter the door! Their fees for wine boxes were also reasonable, so this is where we picked up our second case shipper. Purchased: ’09 Fume Blanc (2), ’07 Olivet Lane Reserve Chardonnay, ’08 Olivet Lane Chardonnay, ’09 RRV Pinot Noir, ’08 Redwood Valley Old Vines Carignan
gnarled Zinfandel vines near Pellegrini Family Vineyards
Porter Creek Vineyards—This small vineyard had a huge variety of wines but we couldn’t pass up a bottle of the Carignan because of the smoky notes due to a nearby wildfire that year. We also enjoyed the Viognier which was (apparently) running low as the wine maker stopped by during our visit to tell our pourer not to open another bottle for tasting. Mike Bernard was an educational host and definitely ask him to do his wine glass trick where he rolls the sample-filled glass to you from across the bar. Purchased: ‘o8 Carignan, ’08 Syrah
Iron Horse Vineyards—Splitting a sparkling wine flight seemed like a great idea here, but ultimately, we left disappointed in their wines. The very first one we tried was by far the best. I would go for the scenery (look carefully for the small road that leads to the winery off the main road) and perhaps just stick to the still wines? Purchased:’05 Ocean Reserve
our checked loot – 2.5 cases and a magnum of sparkling wine – status is awesome!