Posts Tagged ‘Zinfandel’

Wine Review: Long Gamma Cellars – 2007 Red Blend

Earlier this year, Simple Hedonisms reviewed the tasty Long Gamma white blend, so I was quite pleased when I got my hands on a bottle of the Long Gamma red to taste.

Long Gamma is the brain child of the Chicago expats who founded Reynoso Vineyards of Alexander Valley over 9 years ago, and created the brand to create a high quality, value priced wine, from their own great vineyards, estate fruit, not bulk wine. Unusual for wine of this price point.

As described on the bottle label, the blend  is a “an ever changing fusion that showcases the best of Sonoma County.”

Blends generally do change in percentages year over year, that’s the beauty of them, they allow the winemaker to adapt to the quality and characteristics of that years finished vintage.

Review

Region/AVA: Sonoma County (although fruit is from Alexander Valley)

Color: Deep Purple

Aroma: Ripe red fruit, blackberry, black cherry, hint of spice

In The Mouth: Pleasant melding of lush fruit that is expressive, but not an oppressive fruit bomb. Good balance and taste of fruit through front, mid palate and finish. Enough acidity and structure to let it pair well with many foods; it made me want bbq or a ribeye, drinkable alone as well though, with good ‘quaffability’ factor. Finish slightly off dry, not hot nor tannic. 14.3% alcohol: I appreciate the moderate alcohol level  a red wine, especially zinfandel based under 15% is nice to find these days.

Price: (Media Sample) ~$12/bottle. Available online by the case or  via retail at places like Draegers, Big John’s, Molsberry,  as well as local hangouts like Healdsburg Bar & Grill.

Wine Geek Info:

  • The 2007 release is a blend of 75% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, and 5% Petite Sirah.
  • The Zinfandel and Petite Syrah were fermented, aged in stainless steel;  The Syrah barrel aged 20 months in new and neutral French oak.
  • 750 cases produced

The Red Gamma Red would be a good buy at a higher price, it’s steal at under $15.

Celebrate the 4th of July with the “All American” Grape – Zinfandel; and these Dry Creek Events

Zinfandel is considered ‘the’ American varietal (grape),  and has been grown/drunk in the U.S. as far back as 1860.

Zinfandel is grown in many places, with a special focus in California. The styles can vary slightly depending where grown, but many consider Dry Creek Valley the heart of Zinfandel. Dry Creek’s warm weather, and variety of growing conditions, produces a range of wonderful wine.

Many wineries are celebrating this holiday and featuring this All American wine. Here are two (of many) special Zin events in Dry Creek to check out:

All American Zin Day

Saturday July 3, 11:00 – 4:00

A $20 logo glass is your ticket to a great time at five Dry Creek wineries, each serving award winning Zins paired with something tasty. Right when you come into Dry Creek, kick off at Amista, where  Baci Cafe will be serving up pizza from their new wood-fired oven – the perfect match with a 2006 Saini Farms Zin. Enjoy their winegarden and then head off to Wilson, Family, Rued and Mazzocco for more fun.
Don’t miss this Zin-tastic start to Independence Day weekend! Purchase your tickets here at the door.

Mounts Family Winery  Independence Day Celebration!

July 3rd & 4th 11:00 – 5:00

It will be a ZINtastic weekend with music, BBQ, and amazing Dry Creek Valley views atop their 140 acre estate.

Get your ZIN on and check out the  unveiling of two brand new single block designate Zinfandel’s; the 2008 Estate ‘La Loma’ Zinfandel, and the 2008 Estate ‘Cypress’ Zinfandel.
$10 per person Complimentary for Club Members (up to 4 people)

Also, Mounts has a special case sale on their 2007 Zin, only $150, though July 4th, or until it sells out!
 

Of course there are MANY great things going on in Sonoma County this weekend; for more ideas check out the Wine Road and Inside Sonoma websites.
 

Have a GREAT 4th, and of course, CHEERS!

Simple Hedonisms goes ‘Zinful’ and judges Napa vs Sonoma Zin Sibling Rivalry

Last month I had the honor to participate as a judge in the first of the series of a Napa vs Sonoma tastings, also known as ‘Sibling Rivalry.‘ The event is sponsored by wine entrepreneur Becky Tyner of Small Lots, Big Wines.  Becky showcases small boutique producers in Napa. I have a soft spot for the little guy scrapping it out, so I am a big fan.

Becky and I have been connected via Social Media for awhile, but met for the first time (geek term IRL – In Real Life). (I have been resolving with my well attended Facebook Wine Meetups.)

The Sibling Rivalry Series donates a portion of its proceeds to The Rutherford Grange, a historic building, and great venue.

I have to admit, despite a lot of classes in wine evaluation, sensory analysis,  at UC Davis and SRJC and lots of tastings and reviews, was a little nervous judging against Sommeliers, Master Sommeliers, and Wine Makers, especially when Becky announced in addition to the blind tasting, there would be a separate contest  for fun; where judges attempted to barrel program, County, AVA, price point, blend. On top of this, while I do like Zin, and have a decent amount in my cellar, it’s not a red varietal I drink a lot of.

Blind Tastings and Sensory Thresholds

Stories abound on blind tastings, and just how hard it is to determine many of these factors, or even just guess the varietal. Judges have ranked sub $10 wines higher than $100 ones, only to be embarrassed later.  Studies in sensory analysis at UC Davis and other institutions, have learned a lot about the sensory thresholds of the palette, and what people can and can’t taste.

You can actually measure at what level a person can detect tannins, or a certain aroma characteristic, esther, or other wine components, and it varies widely by person. Recognizing that one wine judge versus another can have a big impact on scoring. If one can detect tannins very easily, and the next requires a much higher tannin level to detect, the two judges may have very different experiences of the same wine. Numerous articles exist to support this, including this one. (Warning – wine geek document.) A less geeky article is also here.

Some wine  contests (few so far it seems) are starting to divide judges in categories of non tasters, taster, super tasters, based on these thresholds and taste bud density.

I decided to just focus on what I know about wine, my fairly broad experience, and evaluate each wine for its own individual attributes, as objectively as I could. The fact that Zin isn’t my most favored red varietal may have in fact helped, as I think I was able to somewhat divorce personal preferences, and focus on the quality of the wine. Whether it was skill, luck, or some combination, it seemed to work, as I actually had the best overall score.

The Results:

Judges Choice

  • The overall Valley winner in the Judge’s competition was…..Napa, by a narrow margin of one point, which was the 07 Fontanella/Napa Valley/ Mt. Veeder and Oakville.
  • The highest scoring Sonoma Zin was 07 Tin Barn Russian River/Sonoma County/Russian River-Glisson Vineyard.

Public Choice

There was also a public competition, with 13 tables of a Napa vs Sonoma. The public leaned towards Sonoma.  The top three favorites were all Sonoma wines with Mayo and Viansa both coming in at number one.   Chase Cellars was the favorite Napa Wine. In 13 head to head competitions, Sonoma wines won 8 times.  Even when broken down between male and females..Sonoma still wins.   Some tables were very close, separated by only a point or two.  Others were landslides. (Detailed results in Becky’s blog post.)

Next Up – Napa vs Sonoma Cabernet

This Sunday, Feb. 20th, is Round Two: Cabernet. This time Becky did 3 rounds of pre-tastings to narrow down some of the wines, I participated at one of these, kindly hosted by Cellars of Sonoma. Tickets for the public are only $10, and dinner (Please RSVP and pre-order) is only $8. The event runs from 4-8 p.m. but the judging stops at 6, so that there is time to announce the results.

I enjoy Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals, in fact that’s almost all I drank the first ten years of my wine drinking. Since then I have become much more of a fan of Burgundian varietals (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) and Rhone (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier, etc.) Cabernet is generally more complex and winemakers sometimes take a more active role in its style, so this event will be interesting. I am guessing my fellow judges, which include some big Cab enthusiasts, will edge me out this time, and I will do better next month when we do Syrah – but it’s a blind judging, so we’ll see!

Come out and support your favorite valley. Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!!!!

Date:
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Time:
4:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:
Rutherford Grange
Street:
8576 St. Helena HWY
City/Town:
Rutherford, CA

Sonoma Valentine’s Weekend Events

Its  been another one of those busy weeks, a whirlwind business tour through Texas, fleeing snow in Dallas, and writing/collaborating on so many wine events and education, in the wee spare hours. This weekly events post is normally due Thursday, will try to get back to that format.

There is no shortage of wineries and venues offering Wine pairings and fun events, especially paired with chocolates. I could write 5 page blog post, but will stick to some select highlights. Check the calendar for full details. (Note each title is a web link to their Facebook event.)

Valentine’s Zinfandel at Longboard Vineyards:

Longboard & Love Go Together like Zin & Chocolate!

I recently re-connected with Longboard for a drop in tasting, and was glad I did! This weekend,  Come achieve liftoff with the first taste of Ballistic Zin! (I tried it, its great!)  To celebrate Valentine’s Day Longboard is  offering scrumptious snacks specially choosen to pair with three of our wines, including our 2008 Zinfandel—a brand new release!

February 11-14, 2010, 11am — 6pm,  $ 10 per person for paired flight, The Tasting Lounge, 5 Fitch Street, Healdsburg. For more info, or to RSVP, call 707-433-3473. Their complete line-up of award-winning wines will be available for tasting.

Mounts Family Winery –  Valentine Wine Lover’s Weekend

I can’t wait to reconnect with one of my fave small wineries in Dry Creek.

Fall in love with Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from Mounts Family Winery. Indulge with wine & chocolate in a charming & rustic setting atop the hills of our family-owned estate winery in Dry Creek Valley. Delectable chocolate delights will be paired with their wines.

Cost is $5 per person, complimentary for wine club members. Wine lover special discounts and wine & chocolate pairings are sure to make this a Valentine’s Weekend to remember. Open from 11:00 – 5:00 on Saturday & Sunday (February 13th & 14th).

Not What Everyone Else Is Doing Valentine’s Weekend at Michel Schlumberger

Leave it to Jim Morris to head down his own path!

Wine and Chocolates, Wine and Aphrodisiacs, Bubbles and Bath, Bacon and Frosting….we have heard it all and we decided to have a bit more fun with the Valentine’s weekend.  Never one to follow the crowd, we are pairing up this weekend with one of the the finest cookietiers in the land, Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg, who just won the Best Retail Bakery in the United States in Modern Baking Magazine.

With any of their tours and tastings this weekend, can also enjoy amazing cookies paired with their delightful wines.  These tastings will be hosted by everyone’s favorite tasting room people, Samantha, Frank, Lisa, and Julia.

Zin City Valentine’s Weekend at BellaZin City Valentine’s Weekend at Bella

Head on out to the end of West Dry Creek Road next weekend for Bella Vineyards’ “Zin City” Valentine’s celebration. Las Vegas, in all its romantic, kitschy glory comes to the Bella cave!   “Double down” on the 2009 Late Harvest dessert zinfandel paired with dark chocolate cupcakes and, for those who dare to “elope”, they will be offering faux wedding ceremonies officiated by none other than Elvis himself. Walk the cave “casino” and taste other new release zinfandels and syrahs and then check back in with Elvis as he sings one of his classics.

It’s a perfect chance to get “hitched” or “re-hitched” and, for those who book a “wedding,” top hats, rings and veils will be provided.  We’ll all be dressed in Vegas-themed regalia, pink confetti will fly and we’ll serve mini-chocolate cupcakes from Velvet Crumb along with and an exciting lineup of highly anticipated 2008 new-release wines.

It all goes down Saturday and Sunday, February 13th and 14th from 11AM to 4:30PM. Tickets are $10 per person and complimentary for wine club members and up to four guests.  “Weddings” can be arranged by calling 707.473.9171.

Graton Ridge Cellars – Sweetheart’s Chocolate, Cheese & Wine Event

Join Graton Ridge for their Annual Valentine’s Day “Sweetheart’s Chocolate, Cheese & Wine” event, Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14, 2010 from 10am to 4:30pm each day – Open House Style! Taste our delicious wines paired with fine chocolate and local artisan cheeses – all complimentary. Featuring the latest release of our A+ Apple Dessert Wine! TREAT YOUR SWEETHEART!

Graton Ridge Cellars, 3561 Gravenstein Hwy. N, Sebastopol, CA

Amista Vineyards Wine Dinner, at A Divine Affair

Vicky and Mike, owners of Amista have  become  friends thanks to social networking (in addition to me being a patron), and who doesn’t like the bubbly personality and great food of Kahleen Nowak, owner of A Divine Affair. Amongst the great wines Amista is pairing, is their new, very limited sparkling Syrah rose, that I raved about during Winter Wineland. This event is sold out, but I can’t help but tempt you with the menu!

  • (Bubbles) Amista Sparkling Syrah – Caviar tart ~ reconstructed caviar service. Blue cheese custard, port soaked figs, anise
  • Amista 2007 Chardonnay – Loves Greens, Bermuda Triangle goat cheese candied pistachios, pomegranate vinaigrette
  • Amista 2004 Syrah – Pan roasted duck breast, truffle creamed potatoes, foie gras melted leeks, Amista Ilusión port demi glace
  • Amista Ilusión Port – Perfectly paired chocolate canella mousse

YUM!

Don’t miss A Divine Affairs other Pairing dinners, with wineries from Sonoma, ranging from Anaba, Mounts, and more.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Weekend, I can’t think of a better place, or people, than to spend it with! Cheers!

Recommendations for Winter Wineland, 2010 – Part 2 of 4

Last week, I published my first of four recommendations for the Winter Wineland event, the multi-winery event this weekend that anticipation on social media venues Twitter and Facebook is building to a not so dull roar. For Simple Hedonisms, Winter Wineland like an extended Christmas.

I am frequently asked to make winery recommendations, especially in the 4 appellations of the Wine Road. In my previous article I made mention of some of the newest member wineries.  Also see my last article on the Wine and Food event.

With now 160+ wineries in a 30 mile radius, spanning 4 different wine regions, there are many ways to skin a cat in where to go. In my next article I will discuss using the Wine Road’s great tools and make suggestions to plan out your day. Some make it a marathon and see how many they can motor through in one day, other enjoy themselves at a leisurely pace.

People get very passionate about their favorite wineries, which is great! I have visited many, but there are still some on my list to visit. Each event I mix in new ones with faves. A big event isn’t always demonstrative of a winery’s best food forward, especially if crowded, but its certainly a good test of their hospitality mettle, and some shine despite the added stress.

The following and  buzz of Simple Hedonisms is really picking up, however I often visit without mentioning the blog, or downplaying it, trying to experience what any person off the street would.  An experienced, attentive pourer, should be able discern someone who appreciates wine, if they pay attention to the comments, questions. Despite occasional gifts and samples, I buy a LOT of wine. Treat me decently and it’s rare I leave empty handed, indeed usually with multiple bottles.

Ok enough blab, on to my recommendations. These are wineries I have visited, some repeatedly. Some hold an extra special place in my heart, but all are sincere recommendations I’d stand behind, and would like to hear if your experience is bad. Just because one isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it isn’t great. And if you like it, that’s all that matters. I am always approachable for a visit most weekends.  Keep in mind not all wineries participate in Winter Wineland, so check the list.

If you go to one of the places because you read about it here, please help Simple Hedonisms continue to increase its visibility; Tell ’em you read it here.

This is a long list,so I am not going to embed URLs for this many, if you use the Wine Road’s list, you can find them all.

Russian River Valley (RRV)

Acorn – Generally open by appointment only outside of events.  Bill & Betsy are great hosts, and are a template for how to use space to keep things not overly crowded instead of jamming into one small tasting bar. As an extra bonus, Zin restaurant is catering their event. Great wines; zinfandel, sangiovese, and my favorite, the Acorn Medley. Say hi to Betsy and Bill from William.

Battaglini – a charming stop, run by a charming Italian gentleman. Look out for his fiery habanero grappa, if he takes a liking to you.

Carol Shelton – Carol is renowed as one of the pioneers of female winemakers, and her lineup of zins, including Wild Thing (native yeast) capture the hearts (and palettes) of many.

CopainCopain has been opening its doors more to events. This is a beautiful, simply appointed winery staffed by people passionate about their wine. The views are gorgeous, and their Tous Ensemble label continue to win awards for high quality, moderate pricing. Their viognier is one of my local faves. Great pinot, syrah, and others. Their higher end Copain label is usually on allocation, so buy while there if you like it.

Freestone – A bit off the beaten path, a great stop for you Pinot hounds, in a cozy, home like setting.

Harvest Moon I finally just visited Harvest Moon this year, and what a great find, doubly so if you are a Zin fan. (Other varietals too.) Owner, winemaker Randy is as nice as they come, and can often be found behind the tasting bar, working it, and mingling with the crowd, sharing his passion for producing great wines. Say hi to he, or bubbly Hospitality manager, Erin, for me.

Kendall Jackon Wine Center -Yes, you can buy many KJ wines almost anywhere. It’s the ones you can’t that are especially worth checking out. Their Fulton center (not downtown Healdsburg) is offering seminars and tastings (additional fee) of their Highland Estate, 92+ point vineyard designate wines at Noon, 1 and 2 pm. The KJ crowd is always welcoming, and the Wine Center is a good place for learning about wine.

Korbel – Another veteran of the region, come discover some of their bubbly offers you won’t see at Safeway, paired with great food combinations. A great stop to start or end the day on – bubbles! (No Iron Horse this event, so this is your place for bubbles, and worth the stop.)

La Crema, (Windsor Location) This isn’t the downtown Healdsburg tasting room, it’s the production winery, not usually open for pouring to the public. Besides the massive case lots of pinot and chardonnay you see everywhere, ask about their smaller lot production Pinot and Chardonnay, many under 20k cases. I tasted a number of these smaller lots this summer at this location, and won me over.

Lynmar One of my favorite wineries in the RRV, as much for their exemplary service and focus on their customers as their great pinot, and beautiful gardens. Some of that can be hard to capture at a big event like this, but owner Lynn Fritz works hard to make sure everyone who graces his doorstep has a quality experience.

Thomas George It has been awhile since I visited Thomas George when I discovered it a year ago. (Are the caves done yet?) Great pinot! And a very friendly staff.

Windsor Oaks Generally open for select events, this is one of your chances to visit, taste their wines.

Woodenhead Newer winery, I discovered a year ago. Great small producers of pinot, syrah, zin.

Downtown Healdsburg

Downtown Wines: Hobo and Branham: Head to Downtown Wines, right off the Healdsburg Square to taste the great wines of Kenny and Lynn of Hobo, Folk Machine, and Gary Branham. (Wonder if Kenny and Lynn will bring  their newest future wine maker – Lynn gave birth to her 2nd daughter, Christmas week.) If it’s not too busy, take time to talk to Kenny, he is great guy, easy going, and very knowledgeable. Tell him hi from William. You won’t be thrown out. (I think.)

Holdredge: I wrote last week about the Hudson Wineries joining the wine road. You can park it here and make a full day. Make sure you go around the back and visit Holdredge, an excellent small Pinot producer.

Longboard: Surfs up! Check out this fun winery, with a love for surfing and wine, off the edge of Healdsburg..

Topel: Donnis Topel is a great lady, passionate about wine, food, and dogs, and produces a dog calendar each year for Healdsburg Shelter fundraiser. My (rescued) Aussie, Flash,  is Mr. September this year. Her Birdsong, white Rhone blend, is one of my faves. If you see Donnis, wish her well from me.

Dry Creek Valley (DCV)

AmistaFriendly service, great wines, nice tasting room. I am overdue for a re-visit.

Bella – Bella has quite the growing following. They hold great events during the summer, and their wine caves are always a hit. Expect crowds, go early.

Dutcher Crossing Boisterous owner Deb doesn’t send me as much Facebook love since I went back to work; she works tirelessly often seven days a week connecting with her customers, whom love her. Deb, and her staff here greets their regulars by name, and wine club events feel more like a big family gathering. Stop by for a variety of great wines, and usually a fun, outgoing group of people.

Frick – I met Bill Frick this summer at Zintopia. A one man small winery, I immediately liked Bill, and his wines. In a world of extracted new world wines, he produces interesting varietals, old world style, including cinsaut, grenache, counoise, grenache blanc. Sunday will be my first visit to the Winery, only open weekends.

Fritz – I made my first stop there last month, dropping in on the Crab feed, club event. Small cozy winery, with warm people, good service. A little off the beaten path, at the end of Dry Creek, worth a stop.

Kokomo This small, newer winery was another great discovery of 2009. Great wines, good people, and dog lovers to boot!

Michel-Schlumberger I re-aquainted myself with M-S this year after years of absence. Always a class act, and a beautiful property. As a extra treat this year in addition to food pairings with their great wines, be entertained by Olympic Stars. (I want to see ‘Tonya Harding’ and the ‘Jamaican Bobsled team’ myself.) My part time blog editor, Deb is pouring on Sunday. (I have been too busy to use her recently, if you can’t tell from my writing lately, usually hammered out in wee hours.)) Say hi to her and tell her you are a blog fan.

Mounts: One of my favorite wine families in Dry Creek, 4 generations of down to earth Wine Growers in DCV, who expanded into making small lots of wine 5 years ago. Its a passion for David, and he makes great zin, petite syrah, syrah, cab, and his special, small production grenache. Give Lana a hug from me. Stick to a handshake with David.

PrestonEvery visit I make to Preston, the more I love it. Small, quirky, charming, quasi French. Interesting Rhone varietals, which don’t seem to last long once released, so buy one if you like it I learned.  No buses!

QuiviraA leader in DCV in biodynamics, Quivira’s grounds are beautiful, their staff warm, and they make some great, interesting wines, especially their Rhone varietals.

UntiLove their wines, this will be my first time visiting. Lots of buzz about Unti, don’t know why its taken me so long to get here. (I mean there only 160 member wineries, what a slacker.)

Santa Rosa

D’Argenzio – I visited this gem for the first time last weekend. They have been at their present location for over 16 years, yet below radar of many, yet has a great local following. (Haven’t done a blog article yet, but my Yelp review is here.)

Siduri – normally open for tasting by appointment, and a few select events, if you call yourself a Pinot lover, and you haven’t been here, you may have your Pinot-phile card revoked.

Alexander Valley & Geyserville

Hanna (2 locales) – Hanna has two tasting rooms, one off Hwy 128, and one off Occidental Road.  Both are featuring food and wine pairings, library releases, and a Flashback to the 50’s with poodle skirts and Elvis impersonator. I hope to stop by this locale for the first time.

Stryker Sonoma: Great views, awesome wines, enthusiastic people, this is on my Sunday list. Brian (hospitality, marketing) is a great guy, tell him I said hey.

Terroirs: this warm, elegant tasting room is a great stop in downtown Geyserville, and pours wines from a select number of very small wineries who don’t have their own tasting room.

Trione: Rich in history, passionate about wine, this is a must stop in Geyserville. Food and wine pairings (love their Syrah!), and Hog Island Oysters to boot. Say hi to Jess for me, the Queen of Geyserville and active Social Networker. Actually I will see her Sunday, but tell her Sonoma William sent ya.

Still here? Thanks for reading all the way through. My final two pieces will be my personal itinerary for the weekend, and an article on more tips on planning, tasting. Your comments are always welcome.

Simple Hedonisms is a labor of love, that makes no money. (Nor is intended to.) If  you enjoy the articles, I’d ask you sign up in  the top right for email updates. No spam, never shared, you simply get an email when a new article is published, with the title.

cheers!

Question of the Week – Winery Recommendations for Winter Wineland event

I hope everyone’s new decade is off to a good start, and less frenzied than mine!

This week’s question of the week is:

If you were steering a visitor during the Winter Wineland coming up in a few weeks, what wineries would you urge them to visit?

This is a great question, one that I will answer in a few different posts. But first, for the uninitiated, what is the Winter Wineland?

This is an annual event, hosted by the Wine Road, Northern Sonoma County. I have long sung the praises of this marketing organization, which represents 150+ wineries, in the appellations (wine regions) of Russian River, Alexander Valley, Green Valley, and Dry Creek Valley.  I will write a follow-on article with tips to maximize enjoyment of this event, for now I refer to my posting on the last event, Wine And Food Affair, which still apply.

With over 120 wineries participating, there are any number of ways to decide where to go; by geography, by wine type, by food offerings, by wineries not open to public normal, by your normal favorites.Are you going for 1 day, or both? Generally, 4-5 in a day is about what you can expect to experience and enjoy, unless you are jamming through, spitting, and hitting denser clusters of wineries. Wine and wine country is to be enjoyed, and leisurely, go for quality of experience, not quantity.

As a rule of thumb, the first day of an event is ‘usually’ the busiest, and the mid afternoon on times are the craziest. Plan your stops accordingly, and make popular places your first, and lesser known ones perhaps later. Some wineries and their experience will resonate with you and make you sing like a bird, others may not make you all warm and fuzzy. I think  it’s a good idea to save a winery you know will be a good experience to finish on, to end your day on a high note.

I highly recommend you print out and read the detailed (11 page) list of participating Wineries, and what they are offering.  Live music, food pairings, library wines: each winery has unique offers.

This years Winter Wineland has a record number of participants (kudos to the wineries for solidarity.) I think it always good to visit some of the new participants to encourage them, especially if they are new to you. But don’t forget your favorites and the steadfast regular attendees.

I certainly have my own favorites wineries: for this posting I am going to highlight some of the new member wineries, many I have not yet explored. In a subsequent post, I will write about some of my favorites, and my planned itinerary. (Day 2 is mapped out, Day 1 still in progress.)

  • D’Argenzio – this new member winery, is in Santa Rosa, and is an Italian family offer Italian varietals not commonly produced in this area, including Sangiovese, Muscato Canelli and Rossat, being tasted at a special event this Saturday. They also source and crush traditional Sonoma varietla like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, etc.
  • Robert Rue – new member winery, in Fulton. A family of Growers now also turned small wine producer –  Currently offering a 2005 and 2006 Russian River Zin. < 800 cases, old Vine Zins. Be among the first to visit Bob and Carlene Rue’s “just opened” Tasting Room. Taste award-winning Zinfandels paired with Mushroom Soup prepared by winery chef Kathy Bradley, and hand-made truffles by Gandolf’s Fine Chocolates.
  • Souverainnew member winery. Their gorgeous Cloverdale property is offering historic Asti Tours at 11:30 am,
    1:00 pm and 2:30 pm
  • New Members Hart’s Desire, J. Keverson, and the Hudson Street Wineries, visit 8+ wineries all side by side, right off downtown Healdsburg. Hart’s is offering a Mediterranean Lamb Stew that will pair wonderfully with their Red wine selections. (good Pinot!) (Make sure you go around and see Holdredge too. ) J. Keverson is offering a Chipotle-Squash Soup with Fresh
    Rosemary and Toasted Pumpkin 2006 Hales Zinfandel.
  • Freestone Vineyards – a little off the beaten track, this new member and newer winery has a comfortable home like tasting room, and makes great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Lounge around the fire, and enjoy!

Haven’t bought your tickets yet! $40 for two days of wine tasting and food pairings! Advance ticket sales end Jan 11th, and prices go up to $50 for the weekend, so get them soon.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post any questions or comments. If you enjoy Simple Hedonisms, sign up for (secure, private) email notifications of new posts, in the top right, so you never miss a post!

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