5 of Sonoma County’s most distinctive wine tasting experiences

In keeping with the Wine Institute, in 1996 Individuals drank 1.89 gallons of wine per capita. Twenty years later, this determine elevated to 2.94 gallons. Now thought-about an essential a part of American tradition, wine is so widespread in the usA. that there are 7,700 wineries unfold throughout all fifty states. As wine ingesting has grow to be extra widespread, so has wine tasting. Wine tasting is now a typical weekend leisure exercise, and boutique wineries and concrete wine tasting rooms have grow to be a mecca for wine lovers.

For many, wine tasting is solely stopping at a vineyard, bellying as much as the bar, and sipping just a few of the present wines. Tasting rooms are sometimes crowded and noisy and you must elbow your strategy to the bar to be served. This can be okay for most individuals, however for wine aficionados there’s a extra unique strategy to style wine.

What constitutes an distinctive wine tasting expertise? Being seated in a personal room or in a cave or at a terrace desk overlooking lush vineyards with a educated server is a good begin! An distinctive wine tasting expertise ought to be relaxed and unhurried and last more than 90 minutes. However first, you must select proper vineyard. We advocate that you just contact the vineyard earlier than you go to to see what non-public tasting experiences they provide.

Distinctive wine tasting experiences can embrace sampling property or reserve wines, a lineal tasting of 1 varietal, and even an academic tasting the place your server helps you determine the tastes and smells present in every wine by a “sensory” expertise. Or maybe meals pairing with a number of totally different wines hand-picked by the vineyard chef is your factor.

We’re speaking about being pampered, seated, and educated by somebody with a sommelier-like information of the wines being served. Distinctive wine tasting ought to be personalised and unique (two however no more than ten individuals), and indulgent and opulent. After all, it comes with a price, however it’s effectively definitely worth the worth for the kind of expertise you don’t usually get at in an informal cease at a vineyard.

We’re massive followers of Sonoma County, California, famend for its chardonnays and pinot noirs. We’ve traversed it quite a few instances, visiting a number of wineries from north of Healdsburg alongside Dry Creek Highway to the Lakeville Freeway within the southern tip of this expansive wine area. Alongside the way in which, as we found just a few distinctive and indulgent wine tasting venues, the concept was born! Why not search for the very best wine tasting experiences in Sonoma County and share them with our readers? We deliberate, we traveled, we tasted and listed below are our 5 favorites:

La Crema Vineyard

La Crema’s spacious and well-appointed tasting room is in downtown Healdsburg. You’ll be handled effectively right here. The hospitable and educated La Crema workers take nice delight of their service. They’re keen to make sure their company have a superb expertise.

Wine membership members visiting the La Crema tasting room can sit within the members-only lounge in the back of the tasting room, with snug living-room fashion seating, having fun with the vineyard’s premium wines.

We made an appointment to style the 9 Barrel Wines, La Crema’s prime of the road collection ($50 per
individual or $40 for wine membership members). Lisa, our wine hostess, reserved the particular “9 Barrel
Library Room,” an expensive and personal setting.

La Crema’s 9 Barrel line showcases their premium product. To create these magic potions, the winemaker blends the very best from 9 totally different barrels to make an ideal wine.  This isn’t a mix of varietals, however quite the very best of the Russian River Valley chardonnays and pinot noirs.

As a bonus, Lisa poured a few of their different premium wines—together with the Saralee chardonnay—constructed from grapes that come from the extremely prized Saralee vineyards, one of many Sonoma Valley’s most famous growers.  Lisa tells us, “Completely satisfied grapes come from that winery,” the place La Crema not too long ago opened a second tasting room within the former house of Wealthy and Saralee Kunde. The 2-story tasting room is sumptuously appointed and spacious, with a peaceable, inviting environment that beckons guests to remain all afternoon.

Rodney Sturdy Vineyards

The Rodney Sturdy Vineyard, simply two minutes south of Healdsburg on the Outdated Redwood Freeway, is housed in a placing, dramatic constructing. Fronted by a large, inviting staircase, it beckons you as much as the second-floor tasting room. Your first impression is that it’s a type of wineries owned by a large company charging excessive tasting charges and drawing throngs of wine lovers. However it’s not. Rodney Sturdy is household owned and pleased with it. The vineyard makes nice wine, however a go to right here offers a lot extra. Through the summer season, the vineyard sponsors concert events in its out of doors amphitheater and presents wine and meals pairings on the terrace. We got here for the indulgent meals and wine pairing.

For $70.00 – $90.zero per individual, Rodney Sturdy presents a leisurely paced meals pairing of small, connoisseur bites with 5 totally different wines. Seated at an umbrella shaded desk overlooking the expansive picnic grounds and vineyards, we acquired playing cards describing our five-course meal and winemakers notes for every of the paired wines.

The meals was ready by Chef Tara Wachtel and served by Greg, a long-time worker, former house winemaker, jazz pianist, and normal wine skilled. Rodney Sturdy didn’t disappoint! Two hours, six programs, and 5 wines later (plus just a few additional tastings), we have been completely relaxed and really content material. We walked away with a larger information and appreciation for Sonoma County wines and impressed with the Rodney Sturdy workers who made us really feel like particular associates simply visiting for lunch.

Sbragia Household Vineyards

Maybe our favourite wine tasting expertise was at Sbragia Vineyard, north of Healdsburg on Dry Creek Highway. On the vineyard’s terrace, the view overlooking Dry Creek Valley from practically each angle is breathtaking. Rolling hills planted with grapevines stretch throughout the horizon. Views of Lake Sonoma are to the suitable of this beautiful vista.

Sbragia presents quite a lot of totally different choices together with a three-course meals and wine pairing for $60 per individual, a mixing workshop, tasting and brunch (costs vary from $120 – $150 relying on the wines, much less for membership members), or a sensory tasting for $50 per individual ($25 for wine membership members). The vineyard additionally conducts custom-made tastings comparable to a compare-and-contrast of one varietal (a chardonnay to chardonnay or classic to classic), given superior discover.

We reserved locations for the sensory tasting. What an expertise! Our host, Andrew, a wine collector for 20 years earlier than becoming a member of Sbragia, is a wealth of information on all the things wine associated.  Seated within the non-public library, he offered a beneficiant charcuterie board of contemporary deli meats, domestically produced cheeses, olives, and nuts to go together with our sensory tasting. By means of a sommelier-like expertise company study what aromatics are, utilizing the La Nez Du Vin wine aroma package, whereas tasting 5 totally different Sbragia wines. The package accommodates 54 little jars of various aromas. We used ten, two per tasting, for this train.


We began with a Sauvignon blanc, adopted by a chardonnay, earlier than working our approach into the reds.  In a sensory tasting you begin smelling and tasting the wine to try to detect the totally different traits. With every wine, Andrew handed us two totally different vials and ask us to guess what we have been smelling.  He additionally equipped us with a wine aroma wheel that separates the fruits in white wine from fruits in purple wine, floral scents and flavors, vegetal, oak getting old traits and even off odors that typically present up in a flawed wine or a wine with a foul cork.

Every time we tasted, sniffed, and wrote down our guesses. Then Andrew would inform us what the precise scent was and allow us to scent the vial once more. We guessed improper more often than not, however the train was an essential step in growing our palates.  After two and a half hours, we have been performed! There have been simply the 2 of us, so we actually bought a crash course on wine tasting.  This could make a enjoyable outing with associates.

Pangloss Cellars

Pangloss Cellars Tasting Lounge, within the small city of Sonoma, occupies a historic 116-year-old constructing, previously house to a normal retailer. Positioned throughout from Sonoma Plaza, the big and handsomely appointed tasting lounge options rock partitions framed by rustic timber helps. Uncovered beams within the ceiling and wooden flooring add to its magnificence. However the dramatic wall of wine bottles in the back of the tasting bar is probably the most eye-catching function on this cavernous lounge. Accented with classic armchairs and couches comfortably nested round non-public tables, for $30 to $50, guests can chill out over wines paired with small plate meals – caviar, charcuterie, cheese, pate and chocolate. Even the tasting bar within the middle of the room is lined with chairs so you may sit and sip comfortably with out standing.

We opted for the non-public, extra centered, 90-minute Cellar Expertise with Alissa. For $35 per individual, every visitor is served a person cheese and charcuterie plate, from native sources, to accompany an immersive wine tasting. We sampled seven wines, significantly having fun with a 2014 Pinot Noir sourced from four totally different vineyards within the Anderson Valley. Reservations are required for the Cellar Expertise, 48-hour cancellation.

Lambert Bridge Vineyard

About six miles northwest of Healdsburg on West Dry Creek Highway, Lambert Bridge Vineyard presents a becoming ambiance for a personal sampling of restricted manufacturing wine paired with domestically sourced artisanal meals. The tasting room, housed in an unlimited former ranch fashion vineyard, with historic wisteria vines clinging to the entrance porch and gabled roof, contains a redwood bar fronted in hammered copper subsequent to a hearth with an enormous granite fireplace. Adjoining to the tasting room, by wooden framed home windows and doorways is the barrel room with hovering redwood ceilings and glowing candlelight on tables set for reserve tastings.

We organized for the vineyard’s most dramatic and personal tasting – a meals and wine pairing guided by its resident sommelier, JP Longergan. Seated within the serene, cool, quiet cellar room, we tasted six wines – one white and 5 reds – which had been decanted three hours earlier. The wines paired with particular person plates of domestically sourced cheeses, salami, marcona almonds, olive tapenade, figs and the scrumptious Vella Cheese Firm dried jack reserve. The meals have been plated in a left to proper development to align with the wines from lighter to darker varietals. We began with the 2014 Chardonnay and labored our strategy to the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Gilfillan Winery. As JP described the character of every wine, the detailed precision of the winemaker, and a spotlight paid to the grapes within the property grown vineyards, we might style the standard of those distinctive wines sought out by severe wine collectors. “The eye to the element within the winery, the crush pad, and the bottling makes the distinction,” stated JP.

This, then, is the very best of our Sonoma County distinctive wine tasting experiences. It was enjoyable. It was indulgent. It offered distinctive alternatives to study Sonoma County wines and sharpen our wine tasting abilities in an expensive, rewarding environment.

Impress your mates or impress your date. We assure that any of those 5 distinctive wine
tasting experiences will do the trick!

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