Wine & Travel

Snooth User: boldstein

First time Sonoma visitor

Posted by boldstein, May 31, 2012.

Hi guys,
I'm sure that this is a topic that's been covered before, but I thought that I would see if I could get a little help in creating an itinerary for some midweek wine tasting at the beginning of August.

While I know my way around a lot of European regions, I've never really gravitated to Californian wine...I've generally found it too fruity for my taste, and in many Pinots, too syrupy and alcoholic. So what I'm hoping to learn from the locals/experts/enthusiasts is where might I find wineries that lean towards an earthier, dirtier type of style of wine.

I'll be staying in Healdsburg, and am interested in exploring as much as I can over five days...any reccos for vineyards, tasting rooms, restaurants, or fun ways to work up an appetite would be warmly welcomed! And if any places have diversions for young children, that would be an added bonus!

Thanks in advance!



Reply by dmcker, May 31, 2012.

Hey there, boldstein. Yeah, this subject has been covered more than a bit before. There is currently an active thread you can find here. Another good thread from the past on going to Sonoma is here. A third thread (and there are others, too) that covers both Napa and Sonoma but has several reccs for Healdsburg is here. Those combine into more than a couple years worth of excellent, useful knowledge and discussion.

Nothing wrong with getting specific tweaks to your visit schedule here, but you will benefit from reading through those threads first! You should also be as specific as possible here about your schedule, aims and palate (what kinds of wines do you like), and you'll get some very focused advice.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 31, 2012.

Also, just search around for postings from folks who have done wine tasting and travel up there.  Here's one I did about a recent trip mentioning some places I've really enjoyed. Definitely look through old posts from NapaGirl, outthere, and HondaJohn who have spent a fair bit of time up there or live there. outthere is actually in the business. 

Healdsburg is the gateway to both Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley.  Russian River Valley is not far, either, just down the road from DCV. Less bike-able than Napa (which is less drive-able because the traffic is horrible), but all convenient to Healdsburg. 

Diversions for kids:  Look at Coppola's property up there--it's very kid friendly, I am told.  My kids like to play with Soho and Chelsea at Mauritson, but I think they (the dogs) probably get worn out on weekends--we always go mid-week and late in the day to pick up our stuff.

Speaking of which, Rockpile dinner with the Mauritson crowd this weekend.  I'll start a thread Monday.

Reply by D9sus4, Jun 1, 2012.

Mitch, one more bit of advice from a veteran of Sonoma Wine Country, pay the extra money for the premium pours at the tasting rooms there. From your opinion of California wines, I take it you are not yet acquainted with the superlative premium wines made in California.

Definitely click on the links provided by dmcker and Foxall if you want some good advice on specific wineries. Also, the town of Sonoma is a fun place for kids as it has a great town square surrounded by lots of interesting shops and fun places like the Sonoma Cheese Factory and the Old Mission.

Reply by boldstein, Jun 1, 2012.

Thanks guys! I did take a look at those threads, and definitely found a few ideas...the coastal vineyards above the fog sound fantastic...i'll have to take my tripod too!  Wifey will be ALL OVER the cheese factory, and the kids will love the dogs, so Mauritson makes the cut immediately! I definitely have not experienced the "best" of Cali wines yet, and will happily shell out for the good stuff!

The main goal of my inquiry is to try and get a little head start on vineyards I visit. I know I can't hit as many as I want, so I'm hoping to direct my search towards winemakers who gravitate towards earthy, dirty, mineral wines. I'm not too biased about varietals...I drink a lot of rhone wines, portugueezers and some of the more traditional style chiantis and southern italian wines, but enjoy cab/pinot/sauvignon blanc/rose' and others depending on my mood... my only beef with californian wines has been that many seem too juicy/sweet compared with the styles listed above...half the fun of the trip will be to prove myself wrong!

I'll be up there midweek, so I"m hoping that it won't be too crowded...thanks for the tips!

Reply by outthere, Jun 1, 2012.

Based on your last note don't miss Copain. Old World style Pinot, Syrah, Chard etc...

In Healdsburg proper: Make an appointment with Holdredge. The tasting room is only open on weekends but by appt during the week. Also contact Arnot-Roberts for a tasting appt. Great Old Wolrd Syrah, Cab blends, Rose and Whites.

While you are at it you might want try getting a tasting in at Wind Gap Wines which is another producer of high quality low alcohol reds and whites. Closer to Wind Gap is Littorai which is an incredibe Sonoma Coast Pinot producer. Tastings by appt here as well but well worth the effort.

These are all smaller production wineries with great customer service, unique locations and awesome wines.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 2, 2012.

Some of the cutting edge of Sonoma there, making many of the most interesting wines lately. Good reccs by outthere, and I would follow up on them before booking others, boldstein.

Reply by boldstein, Jun 2, 2012.

thanks guys! i'll definitely make these my starting points! really appreciate the direction, as I've got to balance wine tasting with 20 month old twins!


Reply by outthere, Jun 3, 2012.

Timely thread ths one is. Spent my afternoon yesterday at Copain tasting the newly released P2 (pinot noir/pinot gris) blend, a beautiful Brosseau Chardonnay from Chalone and  a couple of Syrahs including a library pour of Eaglepoint from magnum. They paired it with pulled pork sliders and salmon mousse.

Afterwards it was off to Wind Gap which was having their open house as well. Pairing oysters with 4 whites and a mix of salumi with the orange, rose and red wines. Two must visits if you are in the area. Pax knows how to throw a party and this one was a laid back affair with great people and great wines. Event of the year in West County.

Anyhow, make sure you hook up with both these wineries. Copain is appt only Mon-Wed but is open to the public Thursday-Sunday. Call them and ask for Hollie. Wind Gap is appt only so call well ahead and ask for Susan.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 3, 2012.

I second calling ahead, as I tried to do a last minute visit with Holdredge.  They were really nice about it, but they don't jump up and answer email every five minutes.  They'll accommodate to a point, but make it easy for them.

If you like a little dirt in your flavor, I also recommend Unti, which does a nice GSM blend called Petit Frere which is under $20 a bottle, and a straight grenache that's more. 

At Mauritson, you're going to find Zins that are big, but don't jump to conclusions.  The "off years" for other producers turn into structured, long lived bottlings from the Rockpile vineyards... if you can get your hands on any.  Most of it is pre-allocated.  See if you can get some '06 or '08 Jack's Cabin Vineyard Zin. If they have the 2009 Rockpile Syrah, you have to try it.  They have 77 acres in Rockpile and only 1 of them is suitable for Syrah. But, man, it's amazing. 

I haven't visited Copain, but I've had some bottles and they make syrahs that are among the best for the money. (My top Cali Syrahs to date have been Copain, Maclaren, Hartford Family (who don't specialize in Syrah), Lafond (down in Santa Rita Hills toward Santa Barbara, and a value for the money), and this latest Mauritson, in no particular order.  Not that there aren't others I haven't tried, or others I liked but not as well, but those are the ones that express the grape best IMO.  I also like syrahs from the Truchard vineyards in Carneros, which are known for pinot, but IMO grow better Syrah.  I've gotten these under different labels and they always impress.

Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
8 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
3 posts
425274 Snooth User: duncan 906
425274duncan 906
3 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network