Posts Tagged ‘sonoma’

Wine Road Northern Sonoma County – New Regular Featured Column

Hey- this is Tracy Logan, writing my inaugural post for “Simple Hedonisms”.  I am the Member & Guest Concierge for Wine Road Northern Sonoma County, a cooperative winery organization of 180 wineries and 56 associate lodging members located in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys of Northern Sonoma County.  Beth Costa (our Exec Director), Lynn Thomas (Wine Road Office Manager), and I, no prescription viagra sale work with our Board of Directors to promote our area as a year-round destination and help you, our guests, plot your course here.

From left, Tracy, Lynn and Beth, Barrel Tasting 2011, photo by Kevin & Ivy.

We organize and produce three annual events: Winter Wineland, always Martin Luther King Jr's Holiday Birthday Weekend in January; Barrel Tasting, always the first two weekends in March; and A Wine & Food Affair, the first weekend in November.  We also produce the free, amazing Wine Road Map.

From time to time, I will include a piece on some of our Wine Road Lodging members and perhaps add some adventure showing other fun things to do along Wine Road, including restaurants, canoeing, biking, museums, golf….

Here is a little jaunt out Wohler Road and River Road, just outside of Healdsburg, near Forestville:

Heading in a north-easterly manner, I soon arrive at Wohler Bridge- one lane, yield to oncoming traffic- beautiful span across the Russian River- I make like a tourist and inadvertently block a few impatient locals from accessing the bridge as fast as they seem to like to!  The River looks so GREEN today- good old Slavianka rolling towards the Pacific Ocean….

Wohler Bridge.

And here I am at The Raford Inn Bed and Breakfast where I am to see Dane and Rita, fabulous innkeepers!  What a stately building this is with its imposing, expansive aspect on the hill overlooking the vineyards, surrounded by porches, gardens and palm trees.

RRV Winery Signpost Crossroads @ Raford corner
Raford from the bottom of their driveway
Miraculously transported, the exact opposite view of preceding photo: from the Raford porch towards the crossroads!

What an incredible view from the porch and from the gorgeous, lush gardens, currently being manicured by gardening staff.  Romance, romance, romance–and, true to my personal pursuit of favorites, Adirondack chairs!:

My favorite, Adirondack chairs, on the lush lawn looking back toward the Raford front porch.
Ah- the romantic Raford

Garden arch- wouldn'

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t this is be lovely for a wedding processional? And Rita is a minister!

Full-breakfast, wine & cheese reception, Dane makes wine, staff makes music, rooms are romantic, people are warm and gracious: I would like to stay- but you know how the Wine Road commands me- so, off I go!

Next stop: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant where I am to meet Meilani, Catherine and Miss Charlotte, the Saucy Black Cat.

Welcome to the incredible Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant; what a choice spot!

Following my favorites, here is my Adirondack oasis at Farmhouse on the lush lawn- feels like a million miles away from everywhere!


The Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant also has a spa on site and a pool. In the Guest Reception they have a very intriguing bath products bar to “build your own”- ditto great snacks to chose from.  They do Tiny Weddings (no more than 10 celebrants) on site partnering with Iron Horse with the Wedding Cuvee sparkler signed by Joy Sterling-and sometimes using the site at Russian Hill Winery– could anything be more romantic?  They also do Baby Moons, Girlfriend Getaways- heavenly on all fronts.

Meilani took me on quite a grand tour– I had not been by since before the addition of what is called The Barn, an amusing rustic name for such an incredible addition to the property with the Barn Suites being amazing!

The Barn- my photographic skill, or lack thereof, cannot do it justice!
Farmhouse bungalow
'smores, anyone?? Here is where you can make them- and look! More Adirondacks!

Chef Steve Litke (he wrote the foreword for our Tasting Along the Wine Road Cookbook for our Wine Road A Wine & Food Affair some years  back) came through and I also met Catherine’s brother, Joe.  All staff were so friendly and helpful!  Meilani also introduced me to Miss Charlotte, the Farmhouse Cat.  I had a wee bit of trouble photographing her as you will see in this sequence:

Miss Charlotte: “I do not much care for TR- see my face and attitude!”
Miss Charlotte on the prowl: look out wall lizards!

Wine Review – Von Holt 2009 Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley (and a special reader gift)

It’s always a pleasure to discover hidden small gems of producers in the wine industry, and even more so to share them with readers. Thanks to the advent of custom crush, virtual and urban wineries, there are many, small passionate artisans springing up. Sonoma County has become a buy female viagra online without prescription wealth of these, but you must keep your ear and eye to the ground.

Thanks to networking and social media, I was to meet Peter Alig, who works now with Von Holt.  When he asked if I’d like sample to review, I agreed, always eager to try a new, small producer.

About Von Holt Wines

This is a micro-winery:  a 600-case producer of single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Syrah from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River. Founder, San Francisco native Chris Von Holt, is a retired U.S. Secret Service agent. After traveling the world on the protective detail of the Vice President, and sampling local food and wine along the way, he decided to found his own wine brand upon his retirement. His story is quite fascinating, read more here.

You can watch a short video of Chris’ below. He had me at ‘low alcohol, good minerality & acidity.’

The stories of partner/wife Pamela Miller, the administrative master of Von Holt Wines, and John Fones, Winemaker, are also interesting, classic Sonoma wine siren stories, and ones I can relate to all too well.

A Focus on Cool Climate

They had me at the get go with their focus cool climate Pinot Noir and Syrah. Pinot Noir of course naturally prefers cooler climate, and I am most fond of wines from cooler vineyards in Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley, Willamette Valley.  Russian River can fit this profile as well, depending on the microclimate and the wine grower.

The 2010 and 2011 vintages have certainly helped this aspect.  Working with vineyards in cooler climates takes some guts, patience, and stamina, I have deep respect for those growers and vintners that focus here.

Syrah does well in both cool and warm climates, and produces great wines in both, but very distinctive. My personal preference, especially for Syrah unblended with other Rhone varietals, is for the higher acidity, leaner wines that cool climates produce.

This review will be focus the Pinot Noir, look for Syrah in a Tasting Note also this week. Sneak Preview: The 2008 Hoppe-Kelley Syrah from RRV is amazing, and a steal at $20. I have tasted both Syrah’s and Pinots and am very impressed, and plan to put some in my cellar.

Special Reader Incentive – Free Shipping, One Week Only

Von Holt has been nice enough, no strings attached, or kickbacks extended, to offer readers to have shipping included with their order of any of their 4 wines. Use code


at checkout. Expires one week from today, December 5th.

Wine Review – Von Holt 2009 Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley

A blend of Pinot Noir from two vineyards, Suacci and Ketcham.

 To The Eye: Ruby, brick red

color. Translucent.

On The Nose: Red fruit leaps out of the glass. Cranberry, cherry, and a hint of earth, and green, like tomato vine.

In The Mouth: Bright and lively. The cranberry carries over, and is joined by pomegranate. Excellent acidity that begs for some food,  combined with pleasant mouth feel mid palate, and a lingering  mouth watering finish. A wonderful Pinot Noir, and proof the Russian River Valley can produce elegant  Pinot Noir that isn’t an over ripe fruit bomb, and compete with the likes of Anderson Valley, Willamette, and Sonoma Coast.

Recommendation:  92 points. Highly Recommend. Buy. If you can, purchase one to enjoy now, and 1-2 more to give an extra year to see how it develops in the bottle. With the acidity this wine should age nicely. $32 online.  Media Sample (although I intend to re-order.)

Wine Geek Info:

  • Harvest DateSeptember 9, 2009; Bottling Date: August 24, 2010
  • TA 6.3
  • PH 3.6
  • Clones are Pommard, 828, 115 and 777
  • 11 months in French Oak Barrels (25% new)
  • Fermentation: Native primary and maloactic fermentation
  • Alcohol %13.7
  • 225 cases made

Saturday Nov 19th is Artisano – One of My Favorite Small Producer Food & Wine Events.

I was hooked on Artisano when I attended the first event 2 years ago and look forward cheap viagra from canada to the third. This year the event moves from Geyserville Inn (which I really liked) to the Vintners Inn, in Santa Rosa. (Which I can't

complain about, since its very close by!)

This events features small wine producers, whom at time of selection do not have a public tasting room, so this is a chance to taste wines you can't just walk into anywhere. I have discovered great vintners like Skewis, Skipstone, and Duxoup in previous years. Faves like Cartograph and Stark are to be found this year.


Acorn, Capture, Cartograph, PreVail, De Novo, Skipstone, Stark, Reynoso and Pech Merle.


Affronti, Dry Creek Kitchen, Diavola, Estate, Jackson’s, John Ash, Mugnaini Wood Fired Pizza, Petite Syrah, Spoonbar and Girl & The Fig.

PLUS: Achadinha Goat Cheese, Bellwether Farms, Bleating Heart Chesese, Dry Creek Peach and Produce, Delice de la Vallee, Jim town Store, Laura Chenel, Marin French Cheese, Redwood Hill, Salt Side Down Chocolates, Skipstone Ranch, Sonoma Chocolatiers and Terra Sonoma. Oh and Bear Republic offers up beer.

In addition to wine and food tastings, the Grand Tasting includes chef demonstrations by John

Toulze of The Girl & the Fig, Brian Anderson from Bistro 29 and Shelly Kaldunski, author ofCupcakes, The Art of the Cookie; as well as a silent auction, raffle, several of the region's premier artists, and live music courtesy of The Susan Comstock Swingtet. 

Tickets and Info

Artisano's full weekend of activities includes a WINEMAKER DINNER on Friday evening at John Ash & Co. Restaurant (tickets no longer available), and a HARVEST DINNER on Saturday evening at John Ash & Co.

Tickets are available online for $65 in advance or $75 at the door, if they don't sell out prior.

Tickets and information are available here:

Simple Hedonisms will be there, hope to see you too!

The event is a benefit for Slow Food Sonoma County, with a portion of the revenue going to help School Garden Projects in Cloverdale, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Windsor and Santa Rosa.

Related Articles

Artisano – Slow Food meets Wine Country


Tasting Notes – 2009 Freestone Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Estate

Freestone – another of my unsung favorite producers. I fell in love with their tasting room and wines 3 years ago when I first visited. Everything about a Freestone experience is casual and relaxed, but viagra for sale in the uk first class.  I am hoping to get out sometime again for a photo shoot and visit  soon, but until then, take my word for it, and enjoy the relaxed drive to this  gem.

I was lucky enough to receive a pre-release Media sample of this Pinot Noir. Its not been released to the public just yet, so this is a a teaser, but should be soon.

The 2009 Freestone is from the Estate Pastorale and Quarter Moon vineyards.

2009 Freestone Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Estate

To The Eye: Opulent brick red color

On The Nose: A bouquet of red fruit and cranberry with lingering aroma of spice.

In The

Mouth: A cornucopia of pleasant experiences for your palate. A bit young and tight when first opened, after a few minutes in the glass this beauty quickly becomes endearing. Give her a swirl.  This Pinot Noir dances in the mouth with cherry, bright cranberry, hints of other red fruits, spice, and earth.

This wonderful Pinot Noir delivers in the front and mid palate, and doesn’t disappoint in the finish, as it lingers and teases, making you yearn for another taste.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended. 92 points. Buy.  Drink. Ideally hold and cellar and extra bottle if you can –  this Pinot Noir has acidity and structure to age and gain complexity, although I am not sure if i could leave it alone if in my cellar. $55.  Media Sample.

Vinification Notes:  15 months in French oak barrels, 55% new, 45% two-three year old. Alcohol 13.5%.


Wine of the Week – Jordan 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

It seems I am forever playing catchup on giving wineries the recognition they deserve on Simple Hedonisms. Certainly I do a lot more mentions in the social media realm of Twitter and Facebook, to my active following, but they are long overdue for a review.

About Jordan Winery: Showcasing Sonoma At It's Finest

Jordan is an extraordinary winery in many ways, and a rare breed in many as well.

Focus: Jordan only makes two wines, something incredibly rare for a winery of any size. An elegant Chardonnay, and a 'less masculine' Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tradition: Founded in 1972 by Tom Jordan, now run by son John Jordan, the winery has a well earned reputation for its elegance,

Photo courtesy of Jordan Website

world class wines,

and customer service. Its also one of the rapidly disappearing 'medium size wineries. Not a boutique winery making 5000 cases, and not a giant making 1 Million cases a year, but the difficult ~90,000 case range that has a unique set of challenges competing on either side.

Wineries in this size category continue to sell and merge, or in some cases over the years, dramatically downsize and spin off.  Jordan continues to adapt, innovate, and do well.

Innovation: Jordan is a winery to watch for their innovative marketing, writing, and award winning video blog. John Jordan has done a noteworthy job hiring and enabling Lisa Mattson, Executive Director of Communications.

Lisa blazes a trail for the rest of the industry to follow. (Why wineries don't recognize marketing staff on their 'people page'  still eludes me.)

Do read and follow:

Hospitality: I have witnessed the Jordan experience both as a consumer and wine industry/trade, and its always warm, impeccable, and high class, but lacking 'other valley' pretention – aka Sonoma at its finest. I am fortunate enough to receive media invitations several times a year to Jordan events, and even in a world where these eventually can become a bit tedious, am grateful for the invitation, and look forward to the experience. Jordan's kitchen, and Todd Knoll Executive Chef are amazing – you are in for a treat if ever here for a meal.

See: Jordan Winery Glampire Ball; Cool Halloween (And other Holiday) Cocktails

In Defense of Chardonnay

It's a bit ironic that as a person noted for his love of Rhone and off the beaten path varietals, that I have championed chardonnay. Why? I actually respect and like almost all wine varieties, and think we have sometimes lost our way, or forgotten how diverse wine can, or should be.  Few varietals express such a wide range of diversity as chardonnay – you need only be open mind, look around a bit, and taste more  – its worth the adventure.

There are Other Options

Yet, I had to drag people, including industry professionals, to my chardonnay tasting  this summer (at which Jordan poured.) At the tasting, by design, I featured non traditional California chardonnay – that classic bigger oak & buttery chardonnay made popular by Kendall Jackson, Rombeur and others. Without a doubt , this style appeals to the masses and dominates chardonnay sales. However, it represents only one possible style of many that chardonnay is capable of, and not only produced in Burgundy and Chablis, France, but by many small vintners here in California.

For more on Chardonnay, and how people CAN change their opinions see:

Seeing California Chardonnay in a New Light: #Chardonnay Day Greenhouse Tasting, Attendees Top Picks. 

Wine Review: Jordan 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay 

To The Eye: Clear pale to medium yellow.

On the Nose: Green apple, Meyer lemon, honeysuckle, pineapple

In The Mouth: – A delight. Great acidity, clean crisp mouthfeel with good weight mid palate. This chardonnay delivers as a stand alone, or paired with white meats and fish, salads, and cheeses.

Recommendation: Highly Recommend. Not your standard California 'cougar juice' (a term used to refer to Rombauer like oaky, buttery chardonnay) and also not as bright as an unoaked chardonnay – thus a more versatile wine overall. Buy and consume, (especially during Holiday season, pairs great with turkey.) Or cellar a few bottles as well, a well made chardonnay, with good acidity will age well.

92 Points, Outstanding.

Where to Buy: Jordan has distribution throught the country in wine shops and restaurants. You may also buy it online at . $29 retail. Media Sample.

Vinification Notes:    Chardonnay is a extremely diverse wine grape with huge variation in results based on winemaking tools. Learn to identify what's been done and what you like, to better appreciate this varietal.

Cold fermentation occurred in French oak barrels (with one quarter in stainless steel). After three months of sur-lie aging and batonnage, the wine underwent only 36% malolactic fermentation  to retain its bright acidity. With a portion resting in stainless steel, the remaining 72% of the wine was aged in 100% French oak (56% new) for 5.5 months

Wine Geek Info:

  • APPELLATION: Russian River Valley
  • BLEND: 100% Chardonnay
  • PH: 3.35
  • ALCOHOL LEVEL: 13.8%
  • BOTTLING DATES: July 19 – August 5, 2010
  • RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2011

2009 Jordan Chardonnay Video Tasting Notes

Great video! Look for the notes on  “holding back on the oak” “more minerality” – which contribute to the success of the wine, in my opinion.

Related Articles

Jordan Winery Glampire Ball; Cool Halloween (And other Holiday) Cocktails

Seeing California Chardonnay in a New Light: #Chardonnay Day Greenhouse Tasting, Attendees Top Picks. Up Next – Aug 18 Pinot Day

 Chardonnay regains respect – now to maintain it (SF Chronicle – Jon Bonne')

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Windsor Vineyards Re-Opens Tasting Room in Healdsburg with a Soiree This Weekend!

Guest post by Ed Thralls of WineTonite and Windsor Vineyards.

Healdsburg is a quaint little town in the northern part of Sonoma County that has really grown in prestige and popularity as a wine country vacation destination.  Located right at the crossroads of Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley it is a great home base for your next trip.  It seems to make sense that if Windsor Vineyards wanted to share their quality wines sourced from vineyards these same great AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) as well as the extreme Sonoma Coast that they have produced in Sonoma since 1959 then a return this great town was imminent.


Celebrate the Grand re-Opening this weekend, September 16-18th (Link to EVENT details), with a weekend of wine, food, music and wine country festivities.  There will be special offers and unique flights all weekend starting on Friday night as well as live music and nibbles Saturday & Sunday from 2-5pm each day.  The delicious bites will be provided by Tim Vallery and Peloton Catering and the music will be provided by two local Healdsburg favorites:

  • Saturday, 9/17 2-5PM: Chris Herrod
  • Sunday, 9/18 2-5PM: Brandon Hassur

The Tasting Room

At the heart of Healdsburg is “The Plaz

a,” which is in the shape of a square lined with with trees, grass, benches and a pergola for concerts and surrounded by shops old and new as well as tasting rooms, bars and some of the best local restaurants in wine country.  Imagine waking up and taking the dog for a walk in the early morning fog, while you stop for a cup of coffee at the Flying Goat Coffee shop.  Perhaps, for breakfast, you might be craving the pastry delights from the Downtown Bakery & Creamery including their popular donut muffins or sticky buns.  It just so happens that the bakery is the next door neighbor at 308 Center St. and the location provides a pristine view of the Plaza.

The unobstructed Plaza vista is framed by sliding glass windows that remain open throughout Summer providing an atmosphere that is relaxing and scenic and pairs best  with a glass of wine.  This is a great place to hang before, during and after the summer's Music on the Plaza every Tuesdays.  This is country living, folks.  Leave your big city dreams at home and become assimilated.  The tasting bar has plenty of room for everyone to enjoy and if you are looking for some privacy, you can reserve the VIP room in the rear for private

tastings too.
View Larger Map

Bring your friends and family.  Afterall, that is how wine is best enjoyed.  Cheers!

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Get Inspired at the Simple Hedonisms & Inspiration Vineyards Sonoma Wine Meetup & Open House (New! Food Truck Dinner option!)

Simple Hedonisms invites you to join us Monday August 29th from 5-7 p.m. (and beyond, see below!) for our August meetup at Santa Rosa Wine Trail member Inspiration Vineyards. (Same area as our June meetup at Vinoteca.)
Event features:
*  boutique winery pouring small lot wines
* Industry discount on all wines for the night
* Networking with industry wine makers, hospitality, consumers.

No charge for industry and only $10 for consumers, no drink tickets etc. Entry includes all food & wine for the event, and door prizes.

  • WINE Industry: Winery Staff, Production, Trade, Media, Retail) NO CHARGE (Please bring a biz card or proof)
  • Consumers/Friends/Family –  $10 ($9 in advance) BUT includes all Food & Wine. In spirit of good karma & small business please don’t abuse. Consumer friends etc should pay.

Attendees will also receive a Santa Rosa Wine Trail card with its first stamp.


Pre-Register for Raffle prizes

Pre-register in advance to help us plan for food & staffing costs. It also gets (consumers) a second chance to win a raffle. Raffle drawn at 630 pm, must be present to win.
Bring a business card to enter to win drawings for the night. Register at:

You can get additional chances to win by:

(1) being a consumer and pre-registering or

(2) being a winery and donating a prize to raffle.


New – STAY AFTER; Food Truck Party!

The event ends at 7, but the party continues. All wines by the glass only $5 and food truck vendor Street-Eatz will be selling food. They were a big hit at my recent Pinot event.

If you think you might stay, answer the question during registration so we can plan on tables & chairs.


Wines Poured:

Inspiration Vineyards is a small winery, specialing in wines made in a  classic French style; think Sancerre not New Zealand Sauv Blanc, Burgundy not buttered popcorn chardonnay. Approachable Cab, not oak planks.

  • 2009 Russian River Chardonnay – $24
  • 2009 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc – $22
  • 2008 Alexander Valley Zinfandel  – $23
  • 2006  Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon –  $30

All Inspiration Vineyards current releases are available for sale this night only for a special 30% discount.

Put the Social in Social Networking! Every month people who have been virtual friends become real life ones!

Register at:

Please use Twitter hashtag #SoCoWine


Your hosts:
William Allen – Simple Hedonisms

Jon & Barbara Phillips – Inspiration Vineyards

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Don't Miss this Saturday's Open House at Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa

Wine Aficionados , especially Rhone lovers,  have an opportunity for a special treat this Saturday. Donelan Family Wines, a  boutique winery which  is normally open by appointment only, is opening its doors, bottles and barrels as a treat, as well as showing off its newly renovated tasting room and winery. There is also a (limited space) seminar, by one of my favorite winemakers, Tyler Thomas.

A Unique and Talented Winemaker

Thanks to an introduction via Vinecrowd, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Tyler and interview him, as well as welcome him as the newest member of the Rhone Rangers. (One of my roles as a new board member.) Donelan and Tyler captured my attention at my #chardonnay day event. Their inuagural chardonnay release, Nancie, was one of the top 3 wines picked by attendees, and my personal favorite of the day.

Later I went to the winery to spend more time with Tyler to taste through his wines, talk about his winemaking practices, and just talk shop.

I already knew as a “shepherd of the yeast” Tyler was talented and creative. Tasting through the rest of the portfolio simply reinforced that. What

also struck me about Tyler was his strong grasp of the industry, trends, and marketing.

I spend a lot of time with wineries, especially small ones, and generally you find two different skill sets, and individuals, driving success. The artisan, 'left brain' winemaker, focused on making the very best wine he or she can, but  not always in touch with the aspects of marketing and branding.  Often a second person “right brain”  person on the team focuses and executes on sales & marketing, a different but equally critical set of skills. The best vintage of your career means nothing if no one is aware of it to purchase.

Tyler is a talented winemaker, innovate, and technically very deep. He is also passionate about the business aspects and as we sat and discussed marketing techniques, events, industry trends, and eager to learn more and try new things.  I was truly impressed, and excited when Donelan Wines decided to join the Rhone Rangers national organization, and will be a part of our new North Coast Chapter, an effort I am spearheading. Donelan and Tyler's wines and energy, enthusiasm, are a welcome addition.custom essay writing service


RSVP for Limited Seminar: Cuvees: Building Northern Rhone Blends

From 1-2 pm Tyler is giving a seminar  about the process of making Northern Rhone inspired wines. Donelan’s goal  is to produce the best wines possible using only the best-of-the-best juice from our unique, cool climate Sonoma County terroirs.  The careful process of  blending barrels is key in producing outstanding signature cuvees and single vineyard wines. Tyler will discuss how Donelan makes complete wines of certain styles and illustrate his points with tastings.  Learn & taste the process that results in a ‘complete’ wine: complex aromas, perceived depth and weight on the palate, a long pleasing finish, and tremendous balance. In essence what makes a Donelan wine a Donelan wine. Seating is limited, an RSVP IS required. Call 203 658 1248.

You can also see a video about the seminar  on Donelan’s new blog:  just click here.

2-4 PM – Open House, Barrel Samples and Other Rare Treats

From 2-4 pm the public is invited to taste Donelan’s latest vintage with an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses. In addition to the 2009 vintage they will be pouring barrel samples of three wines: the incredible new 2010 Donelan “Two Brothers” Pinot Noir, the  2010 Donelan “Nancie” Chardonnay  and the 2009 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah. These three wines are produced in extremely limited quantities. This will be an extraordinary chance to taste these amazing wines.

Donelan is normally open by appointment only, so don’t miss this chance to spend an afternoon learning, tasting and meeting this talented team.

By the way, they are in a business park in Santa Rosa that houses 3 other open wineries, Inspiration Vineyards, Carol Shelton, and the new Vinoteca tasting room. Visit these 3 members of the Santa Rosa Wine Trail and make a day of it without having to drive! (Remember a to put a cooler in your car for your wine purchases!)

See you there, followed by Russian River Valley  Hog in The Fog after! Cheers!

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This Weekend – Don't Miss The 16th Annual Russian River Valley – Grape to Glass: Tastings, BBQ, & Seminars

Russian River Valley – I have written and waxed poetic about what a magical place this is for me, so much so I moved here two years ago.

This is no small amount of praise from someone who has trekked to many wine regions, domestic and abroad. This weekend is the 16th Annual celebration of this world renowned wine region. The format, improved in my opinion, is more focused and manageable.

I am a proud member of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers, with my new Grenache vineyard, and my new (<300 cases) Rhone wine label,  Two Shepherds, sourced mostly from  - yes Russian River Valley. I am also moderating one of the weekend's panels.

Saturday August 20th – Enjoy Seminars, Tours, Tasting, BBQ and More!

Seminars & Tours

Spend your Saturday in an enjoyable choice of seminars or tours. Pick from these Seminars, only $50 for one, or $80 for two.

Got Other White Wines? – 10 a.m to 12:00 pm

Saralee’s Vineyard, 3575 Slusser Road, Windsor

What about those other white wines from the Russian River Valley? Come meet this collection of who’s who that source fruit from Saralee’s Vineyard for white wine other than Chardonnay.

William Allen of Simple Hedonisms (hey thats me!) will both present his wine (be the very first to try the Viognier of my new Two Shepherds label!) and moderate a panel discussion that includes Argot, Arrowood Winery, Clos du Bois, Coterie, Eric Ross Winery, Halleck Winery, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Montemaggiore and Thumbprint Cellars. Meet Saralee of Saralee’s Vineyard and enjoy some lively discussion as you sample small bites from Park Avenue Catering paired with these fabulous “other whites” including Gewurztraminer, Malvasia Bianca, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and White Riesling.  Purchase Tickets

Wines and Wagons11 am to 1 pm
Leras Vineyard, 3210 Woolsey Road, Windsor
Enjoy an inside glimpse into the life of a winegrower as you taste wines from the Russian River Valley. Hosted by Leras Vineyard owner, Nick Leras, you’ll enjoy a covered wagon tour around the Leras Vineyard and discuss the trials, tribulations, joys and excitement of winegrowing in the Russian River Valley. You’ll see the actual vineyard that produces the grapes in some of the wine you’ll be tasting – from Papapietro Perry, George Wine Estates, Neothomas Wines, Chloe Creek and Russian Hill Estate. In addition, we are happy to announce that our friends from Ancient Oak Cellars and Sandole Wines will also be on sit

e pouring some of their fabulous Russian River Valley wines. This vineyard tour also includes a BBQ lunch you won’t soon forget!  Purchase Tickets

One Vineyard, Two Grapes, Many Winemakers
1 pm to 3 pm
Dutton Ranch, 10717 Graton Road, Sebastopol
Love Pinot? Enjoy a great Chardonnay? Here is your opportunity to try wines made from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley by Dutton Ranch but made by different winemakers!

Meet the winemakers as you taste through the wines learning about the differences. Question some of the best palates about the hows and whys of winemaking – what makes each of the wines so unique knowing that all of the grapes are all sourced from Dutton Ranch. Wineries include Dutton-Goldfield, Dutton Estate, DuMol, Patz & Hall and Coppola will be paired with nibbles prepared by Park Avenue Catering. Purchase Tickets

Hog in The Fog –  Tasting, BBQ, Silent Auction & Live Music: A Pre-Harvest Celebration

Call this the last hurrah before harvest – that frenetic, fast paced time of little sleep and much activity.

There might be some fog and quite definitely there will be hog at the Hog in the Fog Pre-Harvest Party this  Saturda.

The Russian River Valley Winegrowers and I invite you to join our winemakers and growers as we celebrate the fruits of our labor …drinking great wine, feasting off the land and dancing the night away at this unique Pre-Harvest Party.

The party starts with a wine tasting reception and Farmer’s Market at 4 pm showcasing more than 70 wineries, growers and producers of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers.

Taste Russian River Valley wines, sample fresh and local delicacies from local restaurants and caterers and shop for fresh produce and products from local artisan food producers. Wine, dine and shop while you stroll through the park-like setting at Richard’s

Grove & Saralee’s Vineyard viewing the work of local artists; and bidding on the silent auction of oversized and special bottlings, restaurant dinners and gift baskets.

Here comes the hog…following the reception will be a feast like no other…a savory barbecue dinner of pulled pork, steak, chicken and all the fixins. And, of course we will have homemade Gravenstein apple pie fresh warmed in the wood brick oven for dessert and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Don't miss the spectacular live auction filled with excursions and overnight stays to land you back in the Russian River Valley for more wine and excitement. The night wraps up with music by Urban Oasis playing an upbeat and entertaining mixture of rock, blues, latin and jazz.

Check here for ticket availability (some are as of now.)

Hope to see many of you in my seminar and the BBQ – cheers!

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Wine &amp;amp; Oysters, The Perfect Pairing (Enter to Win Tix to the Wine &amp;amp; Oyster Festival)

Guest post by Ed Thralls of WineTonite.

One of the coolest places, both literally and figuratively speaking, I have been since moving to wine country is Tomales Bay near Pt. Reyes, where I enjoyed the freshest oysters I have ever had.  This occurred over an entire beautiful sunny Saturday (it's often quite foggy and cold) amongst great wine and food friends like William Allen, who was gracious enough to allow me to guest post here on his blog.  This day left me with such joy and amazement, not to mention a serious sunburn, the wife and I have been on an oyster binge ever since.  Not only were the oysters themselves just fresh as can be plucked right out of the bay over our shoulders, but when paired with wine, it was truly one of the choicest life experiences to date.

Wines you should enjoy for a perfect oyster pairing include bubbles (Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, etc.), Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Picpoul Blanc or anything that is crisp, minerally or has essence of ocean or brine.  But, nothing is stopping you from being creative and finding that perfect pairing for your palate.  On this particular day, the Muscadet brought by Nick (@fermented) and Katie stole the show and is often considered by many to be the “perfect oyster wine.”  Muscadet is from the western part of the Loire Valley in

France and are very fresh, crisp and can have a hint of brininess to them.  Personally, I prefer the bubbles.

Needless to say, my wife and I are now oyster and wine junkies and can often be found on Wednesdays or Thursdays at Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Oxbow Market in Napa.  This is why I want to let you in on this little secret, as if you already didn't know, and get an opportunity to try this perfect pairing yourselves if you're in Sonoma County in the middle of July.  The Vintage Wine Estates Tasting Room in Healdsburg is teaming up with The Oyster Girls to create some palate pleasing combinations on July 16th, 2011 from 1-5pm for only $25.  The Oyster Girls

are a traveling oyster bar that serves only local, fresh oysters from Tomales Bay.

This Price includes 6 oysters and 5 wines per person.  Full Disclosure: I work for Vintage Wine Estates and would love to have you join me in this cool culinary experience.  You can purchase tickets in advance HERE.

WIN a Pair of Complimentary Tickets

Comment here on the blog below about your most memorable wine pairing experience and we'll draw a random winner next Wednesday, July 13th at 5pm PT who will receive 2 complimentary tickets available via Will Call at the event.

Here's more information:

Vintage Wine Estates Tasting Room Presents the Wine & Oyster Festival

Join us for Oyster Fest!Join us Saturday July 16th, 2011 from 1:00p to 5:00p and enjoy intoxicating pairings of our award-winning wines with Tomales Bay oysters and luscious mignonettes. Learn the art of pairing wine and food through these palate pleasing combinations!

Check out these amazing pairings:

Pink & Sassy

Wine: 2007 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Blanc de Noirs Sea Fog Cuvee

Oyster: Golden Nugget Mignonette: Sassy Pink

Fresh Kiss

Wine: 2010 Windsor Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley

Oyster: Miyagi Mignonette: Classic Rice Wine

Purely Naked

Wine: 2010 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Laguna Vista

Oyster: Golden Nugget Mignonette: Naked

Tropical Thrill

Wine: 2009 Windsor Sonoma Chardonnay Russian River Valley

Oyster: Golden Nugget Mignonette: Mango Chutney

Sweet Finale

Wine: 2009 Windsor Vineyards Muscat Canelli

Oyster: 2 Golden Nuggets Mignonette: Naked and Mango Chutney

Complemented by baguettes and cheese, plus music by the Rooster Blues Duo

Price includes 6 oysters and 5 wines per person. Must be 21 years of age or older.
Supply will be limited, advance ticket purchase strongly recommended. Day of ticket purchase subject to availability. For questions, please call us at 707.921.2893.

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