Ballard Canyon’s Harrison-Clarke Winery’s Syrah Is Bedazzling!

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Calling all California Syrah lovers…  Ballard Canyon AVA, near Santa Ynez, is an eclectic treasure trove of artisan Syrah and Rhone varietal producers.   Part of the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA, this sleepy enclave is relatively unknown to the throngs of visitors as the mainstream tasting rooms are in downtown Los Olivos.

IMG_0461The scenery alone will take your breath away.  On recommendation from a San Diego winemaker, I contacted Harrison-Clarke Winery for a personal tour and tasting in February.  Co-owner Roger Harrison was kind enough to guide us on an in-depth walking tour of the vineyards.

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Harrison-Clarke Winery is situated on 12 acres, planted to Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier.  Neighboring vineyards include Beckman and Stolpman who also produce amazing Rhone varietals.   Interestingly, the week of our visit, many of the original Syrah vines had been grafted to a Spanish clone of Mourvedre for a wider spectrum of varietals.   Continue reading

Wilson Winery of Dry Creek Surpasses All Expectations!!!

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Just because you perceive something a certain way, doesn’t make it true.  Thank goodness!  Exploring the Dry Creek Canyon road in all it’s glory after much rain during the 2016 Winter Wineland festival, I decided to stop at Wilson Winery.

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Admittedly, the Wilson Winery roadside facade was truly understated and I have driven by it often over the years. The allure to visit the Dry Creek winery was to confirm the scuttlebutt heard at nearly every winery by fellow winery employees throughout the valley.  Who was this Diane Wilson, woman winemaker extraordinaire?  My curiosity and love of Dry Creek’s big bold reds got the better of me but not before I rounded the corner…

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Lo and behold, stood a magnificent wolf iron sculpture standing guard to the entry to Wilson Winery, probably howling at the moon in elation after tasting the decadent estate Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon!  Continue reading

Pinot Noir & Tapas at Marimar Torres Family Vineyards – Ole!

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Certainly worthy of the trek to the far reaches of the famed Green Valley AVA near Sebastopol is the Marimar Torres Family Vineyards, perched high atop a vineyard-studded hill.

54a3289f3bf83.imageWind your way up the long driveway to the lovely Spanish inspired tasting room and you’re likely to meet the legendary Marimar Torres herself.  Always by her side are her beloved Springer Spaniels, Chico and Bonita, who are on hand to greet guests and pose for photos.

Marimar paved the way in the late 1980s for other women wine makers to be recognized.   Her pioneering and determined spirit was unwelcome in the primarily male-dominated wine making industry at the time.  Today, however, Marimar is held in high regard in the Russian River Valley wine industry and has earned numerous awards for her stellar Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

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True to Marimar’s Spanish heritage, the vineyards are organically farmed and the grapes are hand-picked, which allows the unique Russian River Valley terroir to be expressed in every glass.  Continue reading

Fog Crest Vineyard Is Sure To Delight Burgundian Wine Lovers!

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Quite by happenstance, I discovered Fog Crest Vineyard in September at the height of the 2015 harvest.  My curiosity got the better of me, as I was intrigued by such an ethereal name.  Winding my way up a narrow road in the middle of the vineyards of freshly picked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the vines waved in the wind as if to welcome me to this very special place.

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Fog Crest Vineyard was established in 1998 in the Russian River Valley AVA near Sebastopol.  The winery sits atop the famous Goldridge-Sebastopol sandy loam soils, which is part of the Wilson Grove formation, a marine sandstone ridge dating back three to four million years when this area was thought to be oceanfront property.

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Formerly apple orchards and hop fields, the 30+ acre estate is now are planted to Dijon clones of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  James and Rosalind Manoogian, owners and vintners, have taken Fog Crest to award-winning levels in wine competitions and have earned outstanding accolades from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator critics.

Winemaker Jérôme Chéry, hails from France’s Loire Valley and has worked in the wine industry in France and Australia before settling in northern California.  vlcsnap-2015-01-28-08h34m38s231

“I think that the motto ‘less is more’ works wonderfully well with the two famous Burgundy varieties”…

 

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Jordan Winery’s Wine Tasting & Food Pairing Is Unforgettable!

For one of the most memorable wine tasting experiences in Sonoma Wine Country, visit Jordan Winery in the stoic Alexander Valley.  Founded in 1972, Tom and Sally Jordan had a vision to produce great “approachable” Bordeaux-style California Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Inspired and fashioned after a French château, the Jordan Winery is at the top of the A-list for winery tours.  No detail is too small, nor overlooked. Guests meet in the stately lobby for a guided walking tour of the grounds and production area, followed by a first-class private seated wine and food pairing in the château.

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“Unique amongst Healdsburg wineries, more than three-quarters of the scenic estate has been preserved as natural habitat—an oasis where craggy oak trees pepper the landscape, geese and ducks swim the lakes, and rabbits and turkeys roam the hills. The property includes 112 acres of grapevines, 18 acres of olive trees, a one-acre garden, two lakes and several grazing pastures. The diversity of ecosystems on the estate encourages beneficial insects and other predators that support our sustainable farming practices”.                   

                  www.jordanwinery.com  

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Dry Creek’s Sbragia Family Vineyards Sono Molto Belle!

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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.

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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.

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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