Dry Creek’s Sbragia Family Vineyards Sono Molto Belle!


Driving through the scenic Dry Creek Valley AVA reminds me of Tuscany with very similar climate, topography and grape varietals.  As a matter of fact, there is a collective of Italian immigrants and wine growers that have settled in Dry Creek for that very reason.


Soft rolling hills and long meandering roads lead to Sbragia Family Vineyards at the far end of Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Road.  Climbing up the steep driveway, the panoramic view spans from the Rockpile AVA and Sonoma Dam to the Alexander Valley.  Sbragia Family Vineyards is truly one of the prettiest views in all of Northern Sonoma County.


The Sbragia family has deep roots, literally, in Dry Creek Valley, having farmed the area for over 100 years.  Grapes are sourced from the family vineyards located in Healdsburg, Alexander, Sonoma and Napa Valleys.   Continue reading

Goldeneye Winery’s Idyllic Setting & Pinot Noir Is Pure Bliss!

Rugged and remote, yet majestic Anderson Valley in Mendocino County is said to produce some of the very best Pinot Noir.  Driving over the windy, high-banked two lane Highway 128 from Cloverdale, I was in hot pursuit of the most revered Pinot Noir.

Imagine my bewilderment when I stepped out on the patio of the Goldeneye Winery ~ acres of impeccably groomed picnic grounds led down to the path of the Confluence Vineyard set amongst a majestic backdrop of towering redwoods and steep rolling hills.

Goldeneye Winery is perfectly situated in the heart of the Anderson Valley adjacent to the headwaters of the Navarro River, which run through the redwoods down to the Pacific Ocean.  Pinot Noir thrives in this unique marine-influenced climate, with long, mild sunny summer days and cool foggy mornings.  Continue reading

For The Love Of Grapes ~ Harvest Time In Sonoma County!

IMG_9681An exhilarating time to experience Sonoma County Wine Country is during the harvest, which for the second year in a row, began as one of the earliest on record.

karissa“Growers have kept a fast pace since the start of harvest here in Sonoma County,” said Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “For some, picking schedules that usually occur over the course of a month have been condensed into a one or two week time frame this season.”


By Labor Day, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir had already been picked in the Russian River Valley and the vines were starting to yellow.  The vineyard activity was quiet, however, the cellar workers were in high gear!


Littorai Wines, Sebastopol  ~ Sorting Table 


Dutton Estate, Russian River Valley ~ Field Bins Continue reading

Anderson Valley’s Seebass Vineyards’ Old Vine Zin Rocks!


Take the road less travelled…toss in miles of hairpin, white knuckled, high-banked turns, for a most scenic drive over the  Highway 128 pass to Anderson Valley, gateway to the towering Mendocino County redwoods and pristine coastal access.

Ahhhhh…. when I reached the top of the summit, I was spellbound by the beauty of the ruggedness and the color of the deep red soil against the vibrant vines and dense dark redwoods.

My destination was Boonville, population 1,035, home of the Boontling folk language (Scottish Gaelic, Irish with some Pomoan and Spanish), and the Seebass Vineyards’ tasting room.

For history buffs, Boonville was founded in 1862 by John Burgots whose claim to fame was building the Boonville Hotel, which still proudly stands.  A general store and post office also co-existed in the tiny western town.  Remnants of the original town are still evident driving down Highway 128.


Much more modern that the Boonville Hotel, is the quaint Seebass Vineyards’ tasting room right across the street.   Fashioned after an early 1900’s parlor room, complete with a dark wood vintage bar, guests are invited to belly up to the bar and sample the estate wines.   Continue reading

The Wine Carriage ~ A Perfect Marriage Of Horses & Wine!


Nothing could be finer than being carried through the vines by two handsome, two ton  Belgian Draft horses with owner Bret LeRolland of The Wine Carriage leading the way.   The starting point for the wine tour adventure begins at the historical Alexander Valley Vineyards in northern Sonoma County off Highway 128.


Alexander Valley Vineyards‘ tasting room has a rustic old west country store feel, complete with a covered wooden porch.  Memorabilia of rancher Cyrus Alexander and his wife Rufina adorn the walls.  IMG_9360

Estate varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot,  Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Gerwurtztraminer.





Freshly picked bunches of grapes sit on the counter, free for the tasting.


Bret’s love for his horses, Willie and Django, is evident the moment you meet the team.  Guests are encouraged to approach the magnificent duo who calmly stand for pats and photos.  Gourmet snacks of locally sourced nuts and cheese are handed out as we take our seats.  Time to leave your cares far behind as guests board the horse-drawn carriage from Alexander Valley Vineyards.

IMG_9402Clip clop…. clip clop…. clip clop…. The Wine Carriage smoothly transports up to 10 guests through the heart of the vineyards over a 5 mile course, close enough to reach out and grab a bunch of grapes, which we actually did! Continue reading

Russian River Valley’s Iron Horse Vineyards ~ Where Rustic Meets Bubbly


Looking for an adventure in wine tasting in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley?  Trek up the narrow winding dirt road to Iron Horse Vineyards for a million dollar view and stellar sparkling wine.


Family owned and operated by Barry and Audrey Sterling,  Iron Horse Vineyards, was  named after a railroad stop, which crossed the property in the 1890s.   The site was rediscovered in the 1970s by wine pioneer Rodney Strong, who planted 55 acres of Chardonnay and 55 acres of Pinot Noir.  The first estate vintage premiered in 1979.  Today, three generations of family reside on the property, overseeing the vineyards and wine production.

IMG_8396Standing tall over the massive 300 acre property is the trademark iron horse sculpture which was actually part of a weathervane that was unearthed on the property during construction of the winery.  A true buried treasure!

Continue reading

Joseph Phelps Vineyards’ Insignia Tasting Surpasses Expectations!


Joseph Phelps, founder of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, professes a life-long love affair with Burgundian varietals.   Years of searching for the ideal soil and climate conditions to pursue his dream of crafting Burgundian-style wines, brought Phelps to Freestone,  located in the Sonoma Coast AVA, only six miles from the Pacific Ocean.


Originally the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes were sourced from St. Helena, Yountville and Carneros in the Napa Valley, near the original Joseph Phelps Vineyards.    By 1999, Phelps planted over 100 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Freestone area and constructed the Joseph Phelps, Freestone Vineyards Guest Center to showcase both the Sonoma Coast and the Napa Valley varietals.


Almost impossible to miss, the fire engine red building points the way to the Joseph Phelps, Freestone Vineyards Guest Center,  situated on two and a half acres at the intersection of Bodega Highway and Bohemian Highway.   Continue reading