I realized just the other day, when making a reservation for November at our favorite Healdsburg B & B, that I am in the midst of planning another short wine country trip, and I haven’t even finished blogging about the last one! I prematurely booked a ticket to San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Festival, hoping that I get a ticket, and we have an extra two days that we will be spending in Northern Sonoma. Yipeeeeeee.
I have already covered many of the wineries we visited on our last trip, but there were a few more, all very different and all worth visiting for different reasons.
While dining out at Dry Creek Kitchen (which I actually don’t think I ever blogged about!) we met the guest Sommelier for the night, Mark from Arista, makers of fantastic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Mark gave us his card, and since we were going to be in the area for the DeLoach Bastille Day party anyway, we decided to check Arista out.
I was running out of camera battery which was awful because their outdoor tasting bar and Japanese gardens were just beautiful. Mark’s dad actually poured our tasting at the bar, and were smitten with not only their single vineyard Pinot Noirs but also their Pinot Gris. Arista is on my list of definite visit-again wineries. There is just something magical about tasting outdoors under big, old trees!
We had passed Domaine Carneros, the Napa-side Carneros winery owned by Taittinger, many many times on past wine country visits. This summer, several people recommended that we visit, so we made a point of stopping by for a glass of Domaine Carneros’ famous bubbly. As you can see the property is fabulously beautiful, like a French chateau.
This is one of my favorite photos from the entire summer.
Their majestic indoor space had a gift shop that offered, among many other things, truffles with wine.
And their patio was a beautiful place to sip a glass of Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé, an elegant pink bubbly.
But, to be honest, I would probably not return. It’s a haven for tour buses and feels very corporate. Maybe it’s just my style, but give me a dusty old dirt road and a tiny warehouse or farmhouse tasting room any day. It is certainly a sight to see though, and if you have the time and are in the area, why not stop?
Loxton Cellars was another gem recommended to me by Chef Robin. On our March Sonoma visit, we stopped, but there was an event going on, and it was super crowded.
We soon learned why.
The owner and winemaker himself was there to pour for us, and his incredibly charming Australian accent roped us in, and his Cuvee Ellen Syrah won us over. We hope to join the Loxton wine club now that the summer is over and we can ship wine again without worrying about the heat!
Our final winery stop, right before meeting the TasteLive folks at Zazu, was a random stop at Kunde Family Estate. On the same road as Loxton in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma, Kunde has a huge hillside property complete with some intriguing caves.
And beautiful grounds. . .photos of hydrangeas will have to get me through until next summer!
The Kunde tasting room is like a chalet with massive high ceilings, multiple tasting bars, and a seating area for seated tastings. Since we didn’t have a ton of time, we shared a tasting at the bar. I loved their citrusy Viognier, their Grenache Rosé, and the spicy Sangiovese. There were many wines to try, and I know we missed some of them so we will definitely be back next time we are in Glen Ellen.
I know some of you are planning Napa and Sonoma trips, and though I am not an expert, I would love to share the places that I have had great experiences. I can not wait until November to be on the West Coast and in the Dry Creek Valley again!