So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from my trip to California, and I realized that I haven’t talked about our second day in wine country, when we visited Sonoma. I’ve been busy. We drove out to Sonoma, passing over the Golden Gate Bridge (which we had originally planned to bike over at some point, but were suddenly very glad we hadn’t).
Our first stop was at Viansa Winery & Marketplace. The tasting room and grounds at Viansa are nothing short of spectacular, and I recommend stopping in there just for the view. We tried several of their wines, including their Senza Chardonnay, an unoaked Chardonnay that was light and crisp, the Reserve Chardonnay, featuring lots of butter on the nose, and a Pinot Noir that was velvety right up to the end where it showed a bit of bite.
We also tried a Zinfandel with that was jammy, with lots of cherry flavors but very little pepper and spice on the finish, much different than the Prindelo, which was very full-bodied and not at all jammy. The Sangiovese offered a spicy nose with fruit and tannins on the palate.
We finished up at Viansa with two Cabernet Francs. The 2004 Cab Franc was dark with with a fruity, jammy nose, and was the closest to a Virginia Cab Franc I had experienced on my trip. The 2005 Samuele Cabernet Franc was more robust, with a peppery nose and a dry, tannic finish.
Our next stop, right down the road, was Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. If you’re a fan of olive oil, I would recommend a stop to Jacuzzi for that alone. They have a great selection of flavored and unflavored olive oils that are worth the drive. But let’s be honest – that’s not the only reason I went there.
My wife and I started off with a taste of Carneros, which had a fruity nose, but was light and refreshingly crisp with flavors of citrus, peach, and cinnamon. From there we jumped into the reds with Pinot Noir, which was dry moreso than fruity, and featured a bit of spearmint on the palate. Next up was a Sangiovese that was very light on the palate and smooth. We took a bottle of this wine home.
Next was a Nero d’Avola, which is a Sicilian varietal, that offered strawberry on the nose and palate. The last two that we tried were a Barbera that had a smoky finish and is a great steak wine if there ever was one, and a Primitivo which had a very dry nose, but was very jammy and fruit forward on the palate.
Next we stopped at Sebastiani for some tasting and lunch. Before settling down for lunch, we tried several samples, including a Carneros that showed white peach and green apple with a hint of white pepper. Very refreshing, my wife and I bought a bottle of this to enjoy with our lunch.
Before we made it to said lunch, we also tried a very mellow Chardonnay and a White Pinot Noir that was effervescent, as well as a Pinot Noir with a great deal of spice on the nose, though not so much on the palate. The Barbera offered anise, black cherry, and licorice and is perfect for pizza.
Finally we tried the Zinfandel, which I found to be very smooth and would be great with BBQ, and the Cabernet Sauvignon which was soft and earthy.
Our lunch finished, we traveled to Ravenswood. To be perfectly honest, the only thing to say about Ravenswood is this: Zinfandel. If you’re a fan of Zinfandel than this is a stop worth making, if you’re not you’ll probably want to pass.
From there we traveled to Ledson Winery, located at a converted mansion that was absolutely beautiful. First up was a Sauvignon Blanc with melon on the nose and a white peach, semi-sweet flavor. This was followed by a Carneros Chardonnay, the Tres Frais, with a green apple nose and banana finish. Very light, very balanced acidity.
From there we moved into the reds with a Sonoma County “Old Vine” Zinfandel with raspberry on the nose and leather, spice, and raisin on the palate. This was followed by a Merlot with cherry and smoke, a Malbec with a black cherry nose and leather notes on the palate, and finally a Petite Sirah that was nothing so much as dusty and rough.
Our final stop of the day was Chateau St. Jean. Another beautiful estate, it was only enhanced by great wine. First up was a Pinot Blanc that was surprisingly robust for a white wine. Next was a Chardonnay that was amazingly light for having spent 15 months in French Oak.
Next we sampled an excellent Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon with a very smoky nose. Our final red was a Syrah before trying a Gewurztraminer that was off-sweet and refreshing. I’m not a fan of Gewurtztraminer and I found this one enjoyable and would certainly recommend it as a deck wine.
Unfortunately, like all things, my trip to California had to come to an end. If you’re already in California I certainly recommend a trip to any of these vineyards, and if you’re not in California…what are you waiting for? I want to thank all of the vineyards in both Napa and Sonoma that were so welcome to both my wife and I, and I look forward to coming out to try even more wine.