Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sideways Saturday in Sonoma

On Saturday we (me, Steve, and our friends Brad and Lori) headed up to Sonoma to go barrel tasting. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it happens annually on the first weekend in March. Participating wineries are pouring off of the barrels from last year’s harvest in hopes that people will buy futures.

Unfortunately we got a bit of a late start, so it was almost 2:00 when we finally got there. Still managed to hit 4 really good wineries, including Rafanelli, Wilson (a must if only for the bread and tri-tip and to watch Molly-the winery dog, a little border collie, herd flies), Bella, and de la Montanya.

This was my forth year for this event, and the first time I’ve ever seen crowd like this. Rafanelli is always a zoo, but this time the line stretched out the door. It was totally worth the wait because not only were the Zinfandel and Cabernet they were pouring outstanding, but they had chocolate to go along with it. Bella was a highlight because they had the whole place decorated to look like a barn dance, complete with live band. Wines were only OK with the exception of the Syrah. It was very smooth, and almost buttery. We had visited Wilson and de la Montanya in October (and actuallys stayed at the little cottage next to the tasting room at de la Montanya), but still worth another stop in. I recommend the Tempranillo and the Primativo at DLM. At Wilson, must haves are Sawyer Vinyard Zinfanel and the Late Harvest Zinfandel.

We stopped for dinner at Manzanita and had a great flatbread pizza with picholine olives, fennel, and idiazabal cheese. Another great restaurant in Sonoma is Restaurant Charcuterie. Particulalry if you are in to pigs. Manzanita was the only place that wasn't booked solid by 5:30 and even they turned us away at first but then ran after us at the last minute as we headed off, to say they had a cancellation.

All together a great day if not a bit too much driving.

1 comment:

Miles said...

I was so entralled with my lovely companion on this trip that I forgot how far we had to drive to get there, and I actually bought a Merlot (demonstrating the true power of the Wilson Winery mystique).

In addition to the outstanding wines we sampled (barrel and current releases) we also got to enjoy the company of a lot of happy people. Each winery we visited was like a giant party. And to think that all of this fun and merriment was free (if you ignore the cost of gas and could keep your wallet tucked away, which of course we could not). Enjoying the day with some good friends and the most important person in my life made for an unforgettable experience. But don't let yourself think that I'll be buying any more Merlot any time soon.