Pinot Noir

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I can’t write a post about wine tasting in Northern California without first sending my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected  by the devastating wildfire in Lake County. It’s hard to imagine the destruction, the fear, and the loss happening there, but it has also been amazing to see the community rally around those who have lost everything. If you’d like to help, you can visit this website for information. In the meantime, let’s hope that they get some much-needed rain.

Fog Crest Pinot Noir

My eight days in Sonoma were action-packed. For the most part, I was working for Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, but we also had a few days to ourselves for wine tasting and mostly soaking up sun. One place on my to-visit list for years was Fog Crest Vineyard. The theme of my trip was drinking beautiful wine in beautiful places, and Fog Crest was one on my list of sought after patios to taste on.

We visited on a scorching hot day, but it was that dry, California heat that feels so incredibly good to me. I swear my muscles felt looser, I felt more awake yet relaxed. I crave that sort of heat. Fog Crest, which is located atop the Laguna Santa Rosa, is worth the visit for the views alone. Never-ending mountain and valley vistas are the perfect backdrop as you taste some really delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

Fog Crest Vineyard

While the chilled Chardonnay was perfect for the heat we enjoyed, my wine of the week is the 2012 Laguna West Pinot Noir. Fruity, bright, and with a mouthwatering acidity, this Pinot Noir is an excellent fall wine, making its way easily from a warm, blue sky day to chilly evening, paired with grilled chicken and veggies.

Another wonderful aspect of the Fog Crest experience was the tasting room staff. The woman who welcomed us, whose name I unfortunately didn’t get, was incredibly sweet and knowledgeable. She also gave me an amazing recipe for miso creamed kale. I can’t wait to make it.

Fog Crest Vineyard  vineyard

Fog Crest Vineyard is a must-visit on your next trip to Sonoma County. It’s in my top five for beautiful location and I would imagine is gorgeous any time of year. Can I go back now?

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Tags: Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, Travel, vineyard, wine, wine country, wine travel, Wine Wednesday, winery

Happy Travel Tuesday! How is everyone? I have missed this space as it has has definitely taken a back seat to work life and summer fun these days. I have so much catching up to do, but most days after a 12 hour work day, marathon training run, gardening, and attempting to eat healthy, I just want to curl up on the patio with a good book. Weekends have been full of seeing friends, and beach, boat, and pool time and little else, meaning our poor house is a mess as it tends to be every summer. I am definitely still traumatized by winter; I had  nightmare about it last night. I want to squeeze out every drop of sunshine.

Still I have so much I want to write about, and I have missed this space! I am still mapping out posts from my recent work trip to Sonoma County, and today’s features a new favorite winery that you must visit if you head to Sonoma or Napa.

Ram’s Gate Winery is an architectural and natural masterpiece, set at the gateway of Napa and Sonoma amongst gorgeous hills and vineyards, capped off by perfect blue sky. 

Ram's Gate Winery

Every inch of the winery has been designed with incredible attention to detail and taking into account the views and the light that this location is bathed in. I loved how, upon arrival, we could see right through to the other side of the building and out to the hills. The photo doesn’t capture even 10% of how amazing it was.

 

Ram's Gate Winery

As we took our tour, each room brought more ooh’s and aah’s. From the barrel room to the various tasting areas to the chef’s kitchen, each space is meant for entertaining and education. I loved how each corner brought a new seating area or something different; this place is perfect for group get togethers or small tastings as a result.

Ram's Gate Winery    

 Ram's Gate Winery As we traveled through the winery to the outside, the beauty just kept coming. Nestled above the vines, the property really boasts some pretty views.

Ram's Gate vineyards

 

Carneros Chardonnay

And just as the property delights with details and finesse, so does the wine. It was a hot and sunny summer morning when we visited, and a cold splash of bright, tropical Carneros Chardonnay was a welcome treat for our walk around. Ram’s Gate’s wines reflect their unique sense of place, and Carneros Chardonnay is beautiful.

Carneros Chardonnay

Our tour concluded with a tasting of three Chardonnays and three Pinot Noirs, grapes the Carneros area specializes in. As always, it was fun to taste through the same grape grown in different places to note the differences created by the conditions in each location. Ram’s Gate makes Pinot Noir in a range, from the cool climate Carneros region to Northern Russian River, and they really pride themselves on the knowledge and craft of those wines, highlighting the characteristics driven by terroir. As their website says, they like to get specific about where the grapes come from; they can pin it down to the actual row the grapes came from.

wine tasting

Ram’s Gate is a true experience not to be missed. It is open by appointment only, so be sure to check their website and call before your travels. I can’t wait to bring my husband there when we visit later this summer.

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Tags: Carneros, chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Travel, wine, wine tasting

Happy. Friday. This week has started off with a 15 hour video shoot day and was hectic from then on. I have to work at 8 am on Sunday for another shoot; all of the work is fun and exciting, but it still means I don’t sleep well and am the worst at exercising and eating. I am psyched for a Saturday of sleeping in and iFest fun!

It feels like our Healdsburg vacation was a lifetime ago, but we’re still reminiscing on one of the coolest experiences, getting a  peek at Sonoma harvest 2014. Due to the weather, harvest came very early this year, and it unexpectedly occurred during our visit. We were fortunate that some of our favorite winemakers, the owners of Cartograph Wines, allowed us to tag along on a 4:00 a.n. pick.

We set our alarms for 3 the night before, but neither of us slept, both excited and afraid we would sleep through it. We got dressed silently and then drove the short drive to the Floodgate Vineyard, where lots of beautiful Pinot Noir grapes would be plucked off of the vine by a lightning fast and incredibly hardworking crew.

Sonoma County Harvest 2014

I didn’t feel tired at all, and it was much warmer than we expected. Once everyone had arrived, we headed down to the vineyard and followed along as the grapes were picked and dumped into big bins. Our way was lit by a tractor light and headlamps, which were super handy. It didn’t feel very dark at all; somehow I expected it to be a little scary, being out in a field in the middle of the night. Instead. it felt lovely and cozy, and the stars were absolutely stunning.

We were allowed to help out by picking out leaves and sticks and grapes that had turned into raisins or were suffering from botrytis. It was amazing how quickly the lot was picked (no thanks to us!) and what a long day everyone had ahead. Once the grapes are transported to the crush facility, the winemakers wait for a time slot to further sort their fruit and get it ready for crush. We were done before 6 am and immediately went back to bed; the winemakers, on the other hand, had about a 14 hour day ahead, between getting these grapes started and doing other winery and tasting room work. A LOT goes into those beautiful wine club wines we love to drink, and after this glimpse into that work, we will cherish each sip a little more.

Sonoma County Harvest 2014

Cartograph has a beautiful new tasting room in Healdsburg. It’s airy and chic yet super comfortable, and their staff is awesome. We may have talked their ears off on more than one occasion, our excitement plus their wine making us a little chattier than usual. We couldn’t help it; it’s a great place that people want to be, filled with great wines and the friendliest winemakers you could meet.

Cartograph tasting room

We have some club wine coming soon, which I will surely be reviewing. In the meantime, you can read about Cartograph wine in this Wine I am Loving Lately post. Cheers to Sonoma County Harvest 2014 and to the weekend!

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Tags: Healdsburg, picking grapes, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Sonoma harvest, Tasting Room, wine, wine tasting, winemaking

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