On our past few visits to Sonoma (here, here, here, and here) we always ran out of time to visit one of the wineries that I wanted to visit most, Michel-Schlumberger. When planning last week’s trip, we made a point of making Michel-Schlumberger first, and thanks to the magic of Twitter, we were on an 11:00 tour of the winery with VP of Marketing and Direct to Consumer Sales, Jim Morris.
We started out in the winery’s courtyard, a beautiful open space built in the style of an old California Mission house.
In addition to a frog pond, the courtyard also hosts tables that contain information on the magnificent ecosystem that Michel-Schlumberger has developed and maintained. The winery is organically farmed, an eco-friendly practice which lends itself to some problems with some very interesting natural solutions. For example, to curb the issue of vineyard pests, they make the property a homey place for birds of prey by placing simple perches and birdhouses throughout the vineyards.
They also wait to drain this pond and fill it with clean water until the pollywogs like the little guy on the right grow up and move out.
The grounds are host to organic gardens, bee hives, a chicken coop that is home to some dwindling native chicken species, lawn-mowing sheep :), and an olive grove that is home to bad-insect-eating ladybugs. All of these living components serve some purpose in helping Michel-Schlumberger sustainably grow organic grapes that produce stellar wines. It also makes for an incredibly special tour experience.
Michel-Schlumberger’s vines grow along the hillsides of the Dry Creek Valley, where the soils, rainfall, fog, and temperatures throughout the year make up the unique terroir of the region. The vines here struggle, creating low yields of small fruit with concentrated but elegant flavors.
The views from Michel-Schlumberger’s vineyards are some of the best in Sonoma. Every which way you look, there’s lots of green, brown, and blue. And the smell of the dry earth and all of the vines and nature is pretty intoxicating. I’ll let you in on the fact that I love the way farm animals smell. My husband, who grew up tending sheep, thinks I am insane, but I love to breathe it in!
Our walk up the hill and through the winery certainly worked up a thirst, and there was no better way to quench it than with a tasting of Michel-Schlumberger wine. We arrived back in the courtyard to a beautifully set table and got down to the wine, starting with their 2009 La Bise Pinot Blanc.
This is definitely one of my new favorite white wines and was absolutely perfect for the day we were having, strong sun with a nice cool breeze. This wine is really refreshing with a nice acidity and truly is perfect on its own but could be really great with food, especially one of my spicy coconut curries
While all of the wines were really delicious, another one of the standouts for me was the 2006 Le Sage Merlot which offered definite flavors of fresh blueberries. And while I came to the Dry Creek Valley in search of Zinfandel, it was Syrah that truly captured my heart this time around. I love the dark fruits, spice, and hint of oak that were abundant in the 2006 La Source Syrah.
We ended up joining the winery’s Wine Bench club, and I am already looking forward to receiving their wines in the fall.
The time we spent at Michel-Schlumberger was full of great information, beauty, many laughs, and one of a kind wines and resulted in a completely new appreciation for sustainable winemaking and the committed people behind it. If you are planning on visiting Sonoma, don’t wait as long as I did to make an appointment for a tour of Michel-Schlumberger.
And if you live in the US, make sure to enter my Harvard Sweet Boutique giveaway!