Welcome to the first post in my Tasting Room Series. While I enjoy my wine-related travels and writing about them, I don’t want to overwhelm my readers with post after post about wine. As a result I have decided to dedicate a post every week or so to wine tasting events and wineries I have visited. If you would like to guest post in the Tasting Room Series, just let me know!
Last week before the Foodbuzz Festival, we headed South of San Francisco, my first time heading in that direction, to visit the home of the famed Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon Vineyard. Grahm is known for being a winemaking pioneer, experimenting, and succeeding, with Rhône varietals in California. Grahm was recently inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame and also received a 2010 James Beard Award (among others) for his book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology. He is also a very nice person in real life as I found out when he was pouring his wines at the Foodbuzz Festival last weekend.
The Bonny Doon tasting room is a trip. With a large Cigare Volant, (literally flying cigar,France’s version of the flying saucer) suspended from the soaring ceiling above tasting pods and just next to a walk-through barrel, this is not your stuffy tasting room. It is a friendly place with delicious wines at really excellent values, the grape varietals a refreshing departure from the Cabs, Pinots, and Chardonnays to the North.
Addison was our hospitable and knowledgeable host for our tasting, and to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about blogging during the visit. The Bonny Doon tasting room has a very laid back vibe, and we tasted lots of spectacular wines. Being that it was the first day of our vacation, I kind of just sat back and enjoyed the experience rather than trying to record tasting notes for everything. Bad blogger!
I do, however, remember the many favorites that I had that day. Since I already covered the 2009 Ca’ del Solo Muscat,2009 Ca’ del Solo Albarino, Verjus, 2009 Le Cigare Volant, 2007 Le Cigare Blanc and the Vinferno Dessert Wine in my Foodbuzz Gala Dinner Recap, I will focus on some of the other wines that are made at Bonny Doon.
2007 Syrah Le Pousseur The first thing I noticed about this wine was its beautiful deep purple color. My teeth noticed that too, one the hazards of being an avid wine taster! Peppery with a nice little kick, this Syrah also offered some earthy notes and just enough fruit. Syrah is quickly becoming my favorite grape, and Bonny Doon Vineyards certainly makes some of the best US-made Syrahs I have tasted.
2009 Contra A blend of Carignane, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, and Syrah, Contra is referred to as rocks and raspberries, and was one of my favorite reds at the tasting and was also poured at the Foodbuzz Festival opening night event. It is a smooth wine with lots of ripe berry flavors without being jammy or too fruity.
It was true love at first sip with the bubbly Riesling to Live. Made in the method champenoise, this sparkler is full of effervescence, delighting the entire mouth with tiny, long-lasting, celebratory bubbles.
After all of that grape goodness, there was the Pommeau.
Pommeau, a blend of apple brandy and hard apple cider, whispers Christmas and winter to me. It is one of those drinks you sip ever so slowly, and while sampling it in the tasting room, I could already picture myself drinking gently heated Pommeau while watching snowflakes fall outside the window. Bonny Doon’s website also notes that it is a refreshing summer drink, mixed with mineral water and lemon.
Throughout our tasting, Addison shared both useful and entertaining information about the winery and the wines. He also gave us ideas for food and wine pairings, and by the time we left we were wine club members.
Finding many Bonny Doon wines that we wanted for the holidays and winter, we also ordered additional wine to ship to my mother’s in NJ. . . only to find out a few days later that it may not be possible for Bonny Doon to ship to that state either Living in MA becomes even less attractive! It would be MUCH easier to live in CA and to pick up our wine club wines in person. The verdict on the law is still out, but I have a feeling I need to either find a friend in a state that allows them to ship, to return to the winery, buy and ship the wine myself, or to pack a U-Haul, my cats, and my husband and transplant ourselves across the country. A girl can dream, right?!
Until then, if our wine doesn’t make it, I will be on the hunt for my favorite Bonny Doon wines in the greater Boston area.
Special thanks to Meg, who works for Bonny Doon Vineyards, for arranging such a wonderful visit for us. We will be back!
Have you ever visited a winery or tasting room? Do you have any favorites?