Happy Chardonnay Day! Tonight we will toast the holiday and one more day to a long weekend with a gorgeous Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from a recent visit to Flowers Vineyard & Winery.
It took me a couple of years and several trips to Northern Sonoma, and this time around we finally got to Flowers. From the first time I tasted their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, I was in love and wanted to visit this stunning Sonoma Coast property, nestled in beautiful mountains and off a winding, wooded road. It was worth the wait and everything I hoped it would be.
Right after we left our tasting at Fort Ross, we headed to our appointment at Flowers. Words and pictures can’t do justice to how pretty the drive was as we arrived at the property, went through the gate, and found the house where tastings are done on a property once known as Camp Meeting Ground.
First up, we met our host and guide, Nikki, and the other couple we would be touring and tasting with. We headed out to the vineyard to learn more about where these very special wines get their start while we enjoyed sunshine and fresh air that smelled like honeysuckle and fresh cut grass.
Nikki did a fantastic job of sharing the winery’s history and information on the terroir of the estate. I did a terrible job of taking notes and instead took it all in. Luckily, Flowers’ website helped to jog my memory:
Perched on top of soaring coastal ridges that border the Pacific Ocean, Flowers’ estate vineyards were some of the first planted on the “extreme” Sonoma Coast (1991). Flowers’ vineyards rise up just two miles from the rugged Pacific Ocean cliffs at elevations of 1,150 to 1,875 feet. The maritime breezes and coastal fog cool the vineyards during the heat of summer allowing fruit to fully mature with fresh, complex flavors and lively acidity.
The well-known San Andreas Rift comes ashore nearby at Ft. Ross and is responsible for much of the geological movement in the region and has influenced both Sea View Ridge and Camp Meeting Ridge vineyards. The underlying, or parent material of the vineyard soils was once ocean floor. Through cataclysmic events of fault movements that generated great heat and pressure, the marine sedimentary rock was transformed into fault gouge material consisting of rocks like schist, shale, sandstone, greywacke, and greenstone. These ancient rocks and weathered soils help to control vine vigor on our estate and create wines of depth with bright fruit, earth, and mineral characteristics – wines that reflect a true “sense of place”.
It was kind of neat and a little scary to think we were standing so close to a fault! Nikki’s connection to the area is a unique one, and she was able to share some history that was near and dear to her as well. Just across the hills from where we stood, her husband’s family was the first to grow wine grapes this far out on the Sonoma Coast. From that point on, there was lots of talk about the area and farming. My husband grew up farming sheep, and it’s still a topic of interest. We had a great time chatting about Ireland and Sonoma County, which just happen to be my favorite places.
When it was time for our tasting, we headed to the house on the property, built by Joan and Walt Flowers, the original winemakers and owners.
The house is pretty incredible. In addition to tastings, they also hold dinner events there. I missed taking a photo of the kitchen, but it was beautifully designed and a chef’s dream. No one lives in the house at the moment; I offered, but apparently everyone who visits does that. I meant it more. . .
Of course, we tasted both Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, through lots of talking about anything and everything. We also tasted Flowers Perennial, a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. All were exquisite, but since I was in Chardonnay mode, I kept going back to steal sips. Lemon tart and nice acidity, and, as the tasting notes say, minerality that is typical of the extreme Sonoma Coast make for a refreshing, balanced, elegant Chardonnay that might just be my favorite in the world.
The Northern Sonoma Coast is definitely a place I would recommend for a little getaway. From wine tasting at places like Flowers and Fort Ross, to all of the out in nature activities available to cozy accommodations at Timber Cove, it is a little slice of heaven.
Will you be celebrating Chardonnay Day?