Sonoma County will always have a special place in my heart because that's where we went in May, 2005 for my "Holy crap, you're finally done with school!" trip. Although I wouldn't officially graduate with my Ph.D. until August, we partied like I was already a doctor. Wine -- it's medicinal, right?
This September, after two whole days of PowerPoint Slides at the APA Work and Well-Being Conference in San Francisco, I needed some wine. The conference was good, but I have a low PowerPoint tolerance.
We started out from San Francisco on Saturday morning after having stopped at Molinari's Deli and gotten sandwiches. Here's a picture from inside the Deli, which is on Columbus Avenue. Yes, this is where Italians get to stop by on the way to Heaven if they've been very good:
After navigating through a bunch of traffic, we finally made it up to Healdsburg and Unti Vineyards, where Hubby went inside to go to the bathroom and came out with a bottle of 2012 Rosé (83% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre) and a couple of glasses. We enjoyed a late picnic lunch with the sandwiches. We discovered Unti on one of our previous trips to Healdsburg because they do wines with Italian grapes. Annoyingly, my notes wandered off between the end of the trip and now, but the wines were just as good as I remembered, and the 2011 Barbera came home to Georgia with us.
We checked in at the Haydon Street Inn and wandered into Healdsburg for more wine. Of course we had to stop by Selby Winery because we're in their wine club. Their big, fruity reds are a must for chilly nights with hearty dishes. Highlights on this tasting trip included:
2012 Sauvignon Blanc: Yay! More floral and tropical fruit aspects than grass, but still with good structure.
2012 Rosé of Syrah: With a "kiss of Grenache," this one is nicely balanced.
2008 Cabernet Franc: Nice and fruity without the harsh tannins sometimes found in Cabernet Franc.
2008 Petite Syrah: This grape can sometimes come across with grape soda flavors, but not this one, which is very nice and elegant.
2009 Old Vines Zinfandel: Yes, Selby does Zin very well.
2010 Bobcat Reserve Zinfandel: Always a favorite.
Next stop was Roadhouse Winery, which had some decent Pinot Noirs and a good Zinfandel, but nothing spectacular. To be fair, I'll admit that by September, I'm pretty over Pinot Noir because it's a go-to summer red. Next year I've got to follow through on that perpetual vow to drink more French and Italian reds to find some other light-bodied options for summer.
We went to the Topel Winery tasting room next, whre we tried both the Red Flight and the Winemaker Special Flight. A lot of the grapes came from outside Sonoma. I don't have detailed notes, but the highlights included the following:
2010 St. Helena Battuello Vineyard Gamay: Not Beaujolais Nouveau by any means.
2007 Mendocino Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Mendocino Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 St. Helena Battuello Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Finally, that evening at the B&B, there was a tasting with wines from Portalupi. Three out of the four got a "Very Good" rating from me, the 2010 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley), 2010 Barbera (Shenandoah Valley -- the West Coast one), and 2011 Old Vine ZInfandel (Dolinsek Ranch, Russian River Valley).
We met some very nice people and even shared some of our Unti rosé with them after the tasting. We finished it up later by the fire pit:
Sunday morning, we drove town toward the town of Sonoma itself and hung out with our friend Ed Thralls, who works for Flowers Winery and is now making his own stuff. His first vintage was promising, and the Pinot Noir we tasted from him this time around was very good. He's going to be one to watch. He also has an awesome view from his back door. No, his wine isn't that light in color, it's just how the light is hitting it.
We didn't do much tasting in Sonoma itself, just stopped into wine bars and explored the town by the glass. The night ended somewhat randomly when the sound of jazz lured us into the Erick James tasting room, where the winemaker himself as "Sonoma Satchmo" and his band played to a small crowd. It was random but fun.
If you're wondering about my book, it's an urban fantasy mystery featuring werewolves with a scientific twists, and it's available in all ebook formats. You can get the details including summary, excerpts, and links to buy it at my author website. Yes, my characters eat and drink well. It's also very helpful during harvest and while sampling Malbec grapes: