Tasting in Healdsburg: One Visitor's Itinerary

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One of our WineCountry.com readers (known to other message board posters as "Hawkeye") recently posted a very detailed report of his recent wine tasting trip to Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Country. The trip spanned 7 days and was jam packed full of wine tasting experiences. Day 3 of the trip was spent exploring the wineries of Healdsburg. See his suggested itinerary and read his reviews of the wines below.

Day 3, Saturday, October 23
The day began on a very special high note! I had been corresponding with Cabgirl for a month or so about joining us for a tasting. She and her mother met us in Calistoga for our tasting in the Healdsburg area. I think Cabgirl probably knows more about wine that all of us together.

We had a nice visit as we headed over the two mountains to Healdsburg. On the way we ran into construction twice, both one way bridges, and both about a 15 minute wait.

We arrived at Duex Amis at our appointed time of 10:00 AM. There were now 10 of us in the group. The two owners, Phyllis Zouzounis and Jim Penpraze greeted us. This is one of those charming small wineries where we tasted in the winery barn. The tasting bar is a plank held up by two wine barrels. I had tasted there about a year ago and thought their Zin and Pino were pretty good. This time, I did not have the same experience. Their wines just did not have enough body for me.

Our next stop at 11:00 AM, was another jewel of a find, the Williamson Winery tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. We were escorted into a private tasting room where we were met by the tasting room manager, Christer Alli, a very charming 21 year old who was very knowledgeable about the wines and the wine making process. He alone made the trip worthwhile. But wait! We haven't even gotten to the wines yet. What is surprising, there is no tasting fee at Williamson and they even throw in a food pairing with each wine. We started with their Sparkling Fizz Chardonnay which was just about to die for. I am not a sparkling wine fan, but this one was crisp with citrus and not to sweet, just right. At just about this point, Bill Williamson, the owner, joined our group. Bill was originally from Australia and we had fun with his accent. This made the visit that much more special. I thought their Amour Merlot lived up to its name and was quite alluring. I don't know how many wines we tasted, but there were many and thought most of them worthwhile. But, in addition to the Sparkling Chardonnay, we shipped home the '05 Entice Cuvee, a blend of Cab Franc, Cab Savignon and a couple others. The third wine we shipped home was the '06 Malbec which I thought was tasting real well. I had a hard time not ordering the Seduce Cab which I thought exceptional, along with the '08 Passion Pinot which was outstanding. But, only so many spaces in the cellar. We all tried to get Bill to open a bottle of their '05 Soverign Cab, but at $495.00 per bottle, we did not succeed. Needless to say, in my opinion, Williamson Winery is a MUST visit.

We spent so much time at Williamson, we had to cancel our appointment at Rued. I was sorry to do this, because these are wines that I have not tasted before. There is always another time.

Our next stop was at Mauritson Winery on Dry Creek Road. Mauritson has been one of my favorites because of their Zins. This trip was no exception. Their '09 Dry Creek Valley Zin was very appealing with lots of fruit and a long finish. At $27.00 per bottle, I would consider it a best buy. I thought their '08 Charlie Clay Russian River Pinot was also very good. I was very disappointed that we did not get to taste most of the Rockpile Vineyard Zins, which I consider their best. The one we did taste, the '08 Rockpile Cemetary Zin was exceptional. Most wineries have a private room for their wine club members, but Mauritson seems to be the exception. Their tasting room is always so busy that it would be nice to have a separate place to taste.

Passalacqua Winery was the next on our list. I remember tasting here probably 5 or six year ago. I have misplaced my notes on this winery somewhere. One I do remember, however, was the Maple Vineyard Zin, which I thought tasted well. Although I did not purchase any, we were gifted a bottle. Thanks and you know who you are.

The last unofficial stop was at Wilson Winery. We have tasted here for several years and they always have some outstanding Zins. We let the group go in and we stayed in the car because of the size of the group. Wilson always has award winning Zins.

The group had reservations for dinner at borolo Grill and Bar in Calistoga. Their spaghetti and meat balls are excellent. Again, good food around the table but lousy service.

**Discover more of "Hawkeye's" insightful thoughts on his trip, favorite wines & places to taste and other reader's comments in the WineCountry.com Message Boards!**

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I'm pleased to see Hawkeye's trip report made it to the big time! We have a lot of fun over on the WineCountry.com Message Boards and exchange all kinds of good information. Come on over and join in on the fun!

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