Recently in Sonoma Category
Sustainable businesses famously have an eye to the future as well as current projects. As awareness about the need to conserve for tomorrow's generations grows, so does the number of wineries in our backyard converting to eco-oriented wine-growing - and a sustainable future for us all. Below are some of the Sonoma wineries featuring green practices ranging from responsible vineyard management to economically friendly processes in the winery.
Benziger Family Winery
Sustainability is built into the mission at this green winemaking leader, which famously focuses on "family, great wine and healthy vineyards." Now three generations in, the Benziger clan - more than a dozen are actively involved in the winery - ensures their entire roster of vineyards is certified sustainable, organic or Biodynamic© via green metrics and a rigorous annual audit. Visitors will see the 'whole farm' ethos at work by way of the farm animals at the welcoming Glen Ellen property (hello, sheep cam!), and can look forward to quality that shows through in the glass: a diverse lineup spanning Sauvignon Blanc to Syrah is well-received by critics.
*Visit: 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442; Call (707) 935-3000; Tasting Offer
**Event: Celebrate Earth Day
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
Nestled into the hills of cool, bucolic Carneros, Gloria Ferrer is in a prime spot for making world-class sparkling wines. What's perhaps less apparent is this picturesque winery's commitment to sustainable agriculture, something its owners pursue through innovative approaches to everything from soil biodiversity programs to integrated pest management, water management and energy conservation. Because sustainability also has an eye to the health of people - not just plants - Gloria Ferrer's sustainability efforts support an arts program for local bereaved children, facilitating a focus on renewal of life through creativity. Ferrer's high marks for hospitality and stellar pours are just icing on the sustainable cake, as it were.
*Visit: 23555 Arnold Drive Sonoma, CA 95476; Call: (707) 996-7256; Tasting Offer
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.
When visiting the achingly cute hamlet of Healdsburg - replete with lovely shops, fabulous markets, quaint tasting rooms and Michelin-starred cuisine - it can be tough to motivate to venture outside city limits. But with some of the world's foremost vineyards beckoning just beyond, it's a sure thing your efforts will be rewarded with sweeping scenery, warm hospitality and - natch - delicious pours.
The birthplace of the California wine industry, Sonoma Valley - more romantically known as the Valley of the Moon - is today home to dozens of wineries and the historic town of Sonoma, site of the Bear Flag revolt and home to California's northernmost mission, San Francisco Solano. Beyond its impressive historic pedigree, Sonoma Valley is a gorgeous place to while away a few hours or even a few days sipping, shopping and savoring the bounty of this vinous enclave that's just an hour north of San Francisco.
>>Day 1: Los Carneros & Sonoma
>>Day 2: Kenwood & Glen Ellen
Kenwood & Glen Ellen
An easy drive north from Sonoma, the wineries near the rural hamlets of Kenwood and Glen Ellen beckon with superb hospitality perks and the dramatic backdrop of the Mayacamas Mountains.
Kenwood puts the country in your Wine Country visit thanks to its rustic-chic tasting room housed in a welcoming, circa-1906 Redwood barn. Hewing close to Sonoma's reputation for responsible environmental measures, Kenwood employs sustainable business and winemaking practices in producing its wide variety of wines, most of which are on offer daily in the tasting room. Don't miss the spot's historic Jack London series of award-winning reds, produced each year from lava-terraced vineyards on the renowned Jack London Ranch in Glen Ellen.
9592 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood, CA 95452 * (707) 833-5891 * @KenwoodVineyard
Los Carneros & Sonoma
Our first itinerary is within easy reach for those driving north from San Francisco for the day or staying overnight in Sonoma.
Named for the anabatic winds that cool the vineyards of Sonoma, Anaba is a postcard-cute stop at the intersection of highways 116 and 121. Housed in a modest converted farmhouse, the cozy tasting room offers affordable pours of Rhône blends and Burgundian varieties along with informed commentary. Just about a year old and anxious to establish a good rapport with Wine Country visitors, Anaba is an ideal stop for those who enjoy one-on-one conversations with tasting room staff alongside a pleasingly varied vinous lineup.
60 Bonneau Rd., Sonoma, CA 95476 * (707) 996-4188 * @AnabaWines
Image via Wikipedia
Among Sonoma County's numerous and unique appellations is Russian River Valley. One of the too-often-overlooked regions, in my estimation, this charming bucolic swath of valley terrain is home to more than 100 wineries--each as unassuming as they are impressive. It's also a region known to locals for its great off-the-trodden-path eateries and markets, and where winemakers are as serious about their craft as they are about enjoying life. Russian River Valley enjoys warm summer afternoons and ample coastal fog allowing for a long growing season. A diversity of soil types allows several varietals to thrive, though the Valley.
KENWOOD, CA - Though its nickname is Valley of the Moon, the Sonoma Valley is a valley of many moons. A few suns and other planets are thrown in for good measure. The many and various valleys and hills, towns and bergs--indeed appellations themselves--combine to make Sonoma Valley a land of many experiences. One such self-contained experience can be found in Kenwood. It's part of the Sonoma Valley AVA, but it's got characteristics and distinctions all its own. Like many small towns in Wine Country, it's centered on a town plaza and is surrounded by top-notch eateries, inns, and of course fantastic wineries.
With the many so-called "destinations" in California's Wine Country, it's easy for visitors to miss the forest for the trees. Traveling from one big-name spot to another, the itinerant wine taster regularly passes blissfully by unearthed gems that could make them richer for the experience.
One such gem is Geyserville, a small, unassumingly quiet town settled on the banks of the Russian River and shoehorned between the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. That it happens to exist in one of the great American appellations (Alexander Valley) is a bonus not just for the winemakers who populate the area, but also for the wine aficionado who prefers a more relaxed pace with his world-class tasting experience.
Geyserville is still a small town, the kind of place that would make Andy Griffith feel right at home. But it is emerging as well, and with the recent acquisition and transformation of a local winery by Francis Ford Coppola (Rosso & Bianco, and the Francis Coppola Winery, formerly Chateau Souverain), the klieg lights on the town will only brighten. Yet a homespun appeal still prevails. And the wineries that flank Hwy 128 in the heart of the appellation continue to welcome guests with a familiar embrace and a selection of wines that rivals the best from anywhere.
Nestled at the northeastern end of Sonoma County, the picturesque Alexander Valley is eminently accessible for overnighters staying in Healdsburg, and it's also well within reach for day trippers driving in from other Sonoma hamlets as well as the Bay Area. Originally home to prune orchards and meandering cattle herds, the valley and its gently sloping hillsides are now criss-crossed with seemingly limitless acres of vines, evidence of today's thriving wine industry. Speaking of which, visitors have much to look forward to in the area's soulful Cabernets and Merlots, while those with a preference for whites will find plenty to appreciate in the region's rich Chardonnays.
A region springs to lifeby Courtney Cochran
Sonoma County's westerly Russian River Valley is like no other place in Northern California's storied wine country.
One need only drive down winding, pine tree-dotted Highway 116 hugging the Russian River to feel transported to another place. The towering redwoods and river-side clapboard cottages seem to belong to another time as well, a time when lazy days spent dangling your feet in the cool river while sipping a glass of one of the region's award-winning Chardonnays or Pinot Noirs were commonplace.