Posts Tagged ‘Holiday in Carneros’

Holiday in Carneros: Festive Food, Pumpkins, Salsa Music and yes – Wine!

The annual Holiday in Carneros is in full swing this weekend. Simple Hedonisms visited a few of the participating wineries yesterday and we share our experiences here. Tickets are still available at the 22 open wineries today from 10am-4pm. They are an excellent value at $40 for a full day of food, wine, and gorgeous fall vistas over the San Pablo baylands spanning southern Sonoma and Napa county.  The list of winery activities can be found here, and a map of participating wineries is here. We’ll also be posting additional coverage after today’s tastings.

Ceja Vineyards

Pulling up at Ceja Vineyards in Carneros, I heard music and laughter. Inside it was warm and I was welcomed, as always, by family members. The crisp, minerally Ceja Sauvignon Blanc was paired with homemade corn chowder, served steaming with queso fresca and a twist of lime. The hot spice in the chowder was tamed nicely by the SauvBlanc.  Ceja Carneros Pinot Noir is paired with noshes of dark chocolate truffle cake from Truffle Gateau of Sacramento. Worth pursuing!

All the wineries are running special offers for Holiday in Carneros guests, and Ceja’s are exceptional values, for example $50 off the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. This brings the Sauvignon Blanc to $11/bottle – a great value for this well-made wine.  I didn’t stay late enough, but Orchestra Borinquen was slated to play in the afternoon. This is a great spot to come inside and warm up to artisan wines, homemade soup, chocolate and salsa music!

Ceja also produces Chardonnay, Carneros Merlot and a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a Rosé and blends. They have a central downtown Napa tasting room open 7 days a week (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).

Adastra Vineyards

Adastra's Historic Barn Tasting Room

Adastra is a 20-acre family vineyard open only twice a year to the public. The tasting room is housed in a quaint historic barn, with old photos on the walls, along with large signs detailing special Holiday in Carneros pricing for wine, wine club, and private tours.  All grapes are estate grown and CCOF certified organic. The name “Adastra,” comes from a phrase beloved of the owner’s father: Per aspera, ad astra … through striving to the stars.

Adastra makes both an oaked and an unoaked Chardonnay. The labels state this rather simply, as shown in the photos.  My palate gravitated to the crisp unoaked Chardonnay, with a breezy, salty baylands tang coming through in the fruit. Paired with a Boucheron goat cheese, it was divine. Another memorable wine I tasted was the 2007 “Proximus” Pinot Noir. Proximus is Adastra’s reserve designation. Select small lots of wine are classified Proximus, Latin for “closer”… to the stars. Pinots are paired with a fabulous Drunken Goat cheese from a village in Spain. The cheese is dunked in wine then aged 2-3 months, giving it a grapey aftertaste that brings out new layers of flavor in the wine. Besides Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the winery also produces Merlot and a Red blend.

Departing Adastra, I noticed a group gathered around a pile of pumpkins. A sign said “Take home a pumpkin (or two),” so we did!  It was fun to come home with wine and festive pumpkins for display or holiday cooking.

Although Adastra is not open to the public, they offer a private tour and tasting by appointment. For $20/person, guests tour the historic ranch with the winemaker, and sample 7-9 wines paired with artisan cheeses. Fees are waived with wine purchases. Contact the winery for details and to make an appointment. I’m planning to!

Larson Family Winery

It took Holiday in Carneros to get me to visit Larson, and finally I’m relieved of the guilt I’ve felt at driving by on the highway dozens of times without going in.  Larson is a stand-out with their rustic barn barrel room, great food and wine pairings, and live acoustic music and vocals.  The fun starts when you step in the door and spin the “big wheel.” I won a 40% discount on case purchases for the day!

Live in the Barrel Room at Larson Family Winery

Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and a crisp Gewurztraminer – all Carneros grown – were paired with juicy local oysters BBQ’d and served with a choice of hot sauce with lime and salt, or garlic butter (should have been called buttered garlic).  The estate-grown and produced 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir is a rich garnet with vanilla nose, and bright red fruit in the mouth.  Full-flavored yet only 13.5% alcohol makes this a very versatile Pinot at $29.99 retail.

The piece-de-résistance was a rich cheesecake smothered in Larson’s own “Three Lab Cab Chocolate Cabernet sauce.” Of course, the pairing was with Cabernet Sauvignon – I had the 2005 Sonoma Valley which was full-bodied and flavored with only 13.5% alcohol (really). This Cab in a 1.5 liter bottle is currently on sale at $55. Great wine-making, value and hospitality at Larson!

Larson makes numerous other wines, check the website for information. They are  open for tasting daily 10-5, and they are a family- and pet–friendly winery. In fact, two of the 3 labs were fetching a ball out back when I arrived.

Schug Carneros Estate

I’m really glad I had a chance to return to Schug this year. I found their new vintages really exciting and had a chance to taste some of their Reserve wines too.

The 2008 Pinot Noirs were interesting to taste side-by-side. The Sonoma Coast Pinot was ruby colored, with scents of red stone fruit. It opened into many layers on the palate: briar-patch, nettles, licorice and cherry. At 13.5% alcohol and $24 a very versatile wine. The Carneros Pinot was deep garnet with distinct berries and tasty tobacco-y tannins, for $28.

Reserve Tasting in the Cave at Schug Carneros

In the cave, I tasted 2007 Rouge et Noir made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from the Ricci vineyard on the cool Napa side of Carneros.  I was provided with a slender flute to taste the bubbly, which was rose-colored, light and toasty. The 2007 Schug Carneros Chardonnay Heritage Reserve was dry, floral and tasted of golden raisins. Paired with Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze goat cheese flavored with lavender and fennel. Yummy!  Another Heritage Reserve wine was the 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir. Paired with the 6-month aged El Trigal Manchego cheese it was stunning.

I recommend Holiday in Carneros guests take advantage of this opportunity to taste the Schug Reserve wines paired with great cheeses. It’s a $10 optional fee and well worth it.

Schug makes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot, Merlot and Cab, including some Rosé and Sparkling versions. The tasting room is open daily 10-5.

Plan Your Day!

These are just a few of the wineries participating, to give you a flavor of the event. Each spot on the map offers a unique experience, direct access to the people behind the wines, and dramatic fall vineyard scenery. And it’s all for a good cause, as proceeds help to fund scholarships at Santa Rosa Junior College and Napa Valley College.  To get the most out of your day, don’t forget to read Simple Hedonisms’ advice on planning for a tasting event outing. If you use Twitter, search on hashtag #HiC10 to see posts and tips in real time today.

This Weekend, Treat Yourself to a ‘Holiday in Carneros’ ; Ticket Giveaway Contest

Carneros is an interesting wine region; it serves as the ‘bridge’ between Napa and Somoma as the only AVA (region) that spans both counties.

Every November, the member wineries hold the “Holiday in Carneros” essentially a multi winery open house where each features a special variety of food and wine pairings, live music, art shows, special tastings (barrel, reserve, library and new release), discounts or special pricing and more. (You can peruse my blog post on last year’s adventure here.

Not only is the event fun and inexpensive, it’s also for a great cause, as proceeds from “Holiday in Carneros” help to fund scholarships at Santa Rosa Junior College and Napa Valley College.

Advance tickets are only $35, a ridiculous value for one or  two days of food, wine, and entertainment.

Participating wineries include: Adastra Wines, Anaba Wines, Bonneau Wines, Ceja Vineyards, Cline Cellars, Enkidu Wines, Etude Wines, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Homewood Winery, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Keating Wines, Larson Family Winery, McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards & Winery, Meadowcroft Wines, Michael Mondavi Family Winery, Parmalee-Hill Wines, Robledo Family Winery, Schug Carneros Estate Winery, Talisman Wines, Tin Barn Vineyards, Truchard Vineyards and Ty Caton Vineyards.

The (four page) list of winery activities can be found here, and a map of participating wineries is here.

My usual list of tips apply:

  • Plan. – take a few minutes to peruse the page of offerings. Visit old faves, work in some new ones.
  • Buy. Support these artisans with your purchases. Many will have special sales. If you are have flown in, this is an especially great time to stock up and ship these gems you may not be able to find at home. For visitors, this is also a good time to consider the Wine Club, to keep a regular supply of your favorite winery releases coming.
  • Taste Responsibly. Don’t hesitate to dump wine you don’t want, use a spit cup, and consume plenty of food and water.
  • Have Fun! Remember if it gets busy; A ‘bad’ day in Wine Country (I think this actually doesn’t exist) is always better than a good day at work. There will be peak times, be patient, smile, and enjoy Sonoma’s leisurely pace.

If you can only go one day, and prefer a slower pace, Sunday is generally lower key.

Whats the Contest for Free Tickets Already

It’s simple; Answer these 3 very easy questions, in a comment post. They won’t be published, so that others can’t see. Make sure you leave an email address  if you’d like to be contacted to win!  We’ll draw from the responses with correct answers Friday evening.

1.  Name one of the member wineries that makes sparkling wine. (bubbles!)

2. From the Activity list: Type/Style Wines does Anaba make?

3. What food pairing is Tin Barn offering?

Sonoma Valley Events for Nov 5-7

Welcome to this  week’s events in Sonoma Valley. (Calendar information courtesy of Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers.) Please note this is Sonoma VALLEY,  not the entire county. See the bottom of the blog for websites for more events throughout Sonoma and the Wine Road.

Thursday, November 18: Reception 6:30 pm Dinner at 7:00 pm
Sante at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Chef Andrew Cain in good company with many of the Valley’s finest wineries invite you to a meritage of winemaker dinners at Santé this harvest season. Recipient of a prestigious Michelin Star as well as the AAA Four Diamond award, Santé is the only restaurant in the Sonoma Valley to receive these accolades. Only the freshest local produce, meats, poultry and seafood are used to create elegantly simple dishes that let the natural flavors of the food speak for themselves. Reservations are currently being accepted to these inspired exquisitely paired dining adventures. 707 939 2467. Prices vary. For reservations please phone 707-939-2415.

Thursday, November 18: 6:30 – 8:00 pm
1325 Broadway, Sonoma

Steve Van Horne of Bartholomew Park Winery. Relax with us in Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar as we host guest winemakers or proprietors discussing their wines. It’s as easy as rubbing elbows with the big shots and joining in some educational wine talk.

Friday, November 19: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Hosted by Cindy Friedman, CWP Savor the pleasure of glorious cheese paired with our distinctive Gloria Ferrer Sparkling wines. Local Sonoma County artisan cheeses share center stage with some of the best from Spain and other regions of California. Cost is $30 per person. Call Cindy Friedman at 933-1951 and

Saturday, November 20 – Sunday, November 21: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Participating Wineries

This “passport” event includes special offerings at 20 Carneros wineries. Purchase a logo wine glass at any participating winery and enjoy music, barrel tasting and great food at all wineries, for both days! Here is your chance to visit some of the smaller wineries that are never open to the public, as well as gain access to the “inner sanctum” of the bigger wineries. Great deals abound on rare and exciting wines, as well as the first chance at “newly released” wines of the year. “Passport” logo glass $40 per person. No reservations needed. For more information contact 800-909-4352

Wineries include: Adastra Wines, Anaba Wines, Bonneau Wines, Ceja Vineyards, Cline Cellars, Enkidu Wines, Etude Wines, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Homewood Winery, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Keating Wines, Larson Family Winery, McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards & Winery, Meadowcroft Wines, Michael Mondavi Family Winery, Parmalee-Hill Wines, Robledo Family Winery, Schug Carneros Estate Winery, Talisman Wines, Tin Barn Vineyards, Truchard Vineyards and Ty Caton Vineyards.

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