sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo

UPDATE - Full trip report/recap/tasting notes below!

My better half and I are finally making our first trip to wine country in a few weeks. Yup, way overdue, but the stars aligned and we actually found a weekend to make it happen.

So I figured I'd be stupid not to ask the Wootosphere for any tips/recommendations and such. Obviously we have some favorite people and wineries we'd like to visit. I've got everything plotted on a map...



Link to Google Map

Wineries we'd like to visit:
- Meeker (Geyserville)
- Humanitas / Michel Schlumberger (Healdsburg)
- Ty Caton (Kenwood)
- Wellington (Glen Ellen)
- Hendry (Napa)
- Vino Noceto (Plymouth)
- Scott Harvey (Sutter Creek)

Edited to add recommendations suggested on here:
- Iron Horse (Sebastopol)
- Joseph Swan (Forestville)
- Palmaz (Napa)
- Teldeschi (Healdsburg)


Basically, this is the current plan:

Friday - we're flying into SFO in the morning and then will drive up to the Healdsburg area. Hopefully we can visit both wineries up that way on Friday and then we're staying at the Raford Inn that night.

Saturday - we'll slowly make our way from there through Napa to Plymouth/Sutter Creek (and all the wineries in between) and stay in that general vicinity Saturday night at the Volcano Union Inn.

Sunday - we'll have breakfast, visit Noceto and Scott Harvey, and then head back towards SFO. Hopefully we can grab dinner at my favorite Chinese place in the city - and then we're on the redeye home.


Obviously the list is already relatively full for a weekend - but this is where I summon your ridiculously vast expertise and see what gets thrown my way. Thanks!


P.S. If any of the winemakers I've mentioned happen to come across this thread, leave a comment so I know to deliver a personal hello when we get there!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

CAGrl


quality posts: 13 Private Messages CAGrl

Napa to Sutter Creek area is a long drive, especially if you want to make stops at wineries in Napa area and Sutter Creek. Don't think you can do both. But I may be wrong. I just know whenever we do Napa, we do Napa. Could not imagine doing a drive to Sutter Creek at doing more tastings.

loveladyelectric


quality posts: 23 Private Messages loveladyelectric

Please do yourself a favor and take the tour at Palmaz Vineyards in Napa. You will love it.

If you make it to the Russian River Valley, definitely hit up Iron Horse (if you love bubbly) and Joseph Swan. Joseph Swan maxes out around $30 and has absolutely amazing Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. I took a Swan Zin to the SoCal tasting and it seemed well received.

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
CAGrl wrote:Napa to Sutter Creek area is a long drive, especially if you want to make stops at wineries in Napa area and Sutter Creek. Don't think you can do both. But I may be wrong. I just know whenever we do Napa, we do Napa. Could not imagine doing a drive to Sutter Creek at doing more tastings.



Well the plan is not to visit any tasting rooms in Sutter Creek until the following day - just arrive there after driving from Napa.

loveladyelectric wrote:Please do yourself a favor and take the tour at Palmaz Vineyards in Napa. You will love it.

If you make it to the Russian River Valley, definitely hit up Iron Horse (if you love bubbly) and Joseph Swan. Joseph Swan maxes out around $30 and has absolutely amazing Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. I took a Swan Zin to the SoCal tasting and it seemed well received.



Ahh yes, I've still never purchased the Iron Horse on here (sacré bleu!) though I'm certainly familiar with its popularity.

Thanks for all the tips!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

CAGrl


quality posts: 13 Private Messages CAGrl
sdilullo wrote:Well the plan is not to visit any tasting rooms in Sutter Creek until the following day - just arrive there after driving from Napa.


Ah yes. That makes more sense. Ignore me.

ajrod27


quality posts: 41 Private Messages ajrod27

If you have time to hit a third winery in Healdsburg, I highly recommend Teldeschi Winery. He hasn't been on woot YET, but he's a favorite amongst the local wooters. Very nice, pre-aged wines

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
ajrod27 wrote:If you have time to hit a third winery in Healdsburg, I highly recommend Teldeschi Winery. He hasn't been on woot YET, but he's a favorite amongst the local wooters. Very nice, pre-aged wines



Sounds great - I'm already sold just from reading the first couple sentences on their history page. Thanks for the tip!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

chipgreen


quality posts: 195 Private Messages chipgreen

Hey, I know the odds are slim but if you want to warm up for your CA wine trip by shooting up to Cleveland this Saturday for a complimentary wine tasting/gathering with Clark Smith Click Here.

Clark sent a case of wine up in advance which includes 2 each of 6 different wines, including his high-end Cab "The Crucible" among others.

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
chipgreen wrote:Hey, I know the odds are slim but if you want to warm up for your CA wine trip by shooting up to Cleveland this Saturday for a complimentary wine tasting/gathering with Clark Smith Click Here.

Clark sent a case of wine up in advance which includes 2 each of 6 different wines, including his high-end Cab "The Crucible" among others.



If we didn't have company visiting, I'd definitely consider taking you up on the offer - appreciate you dropping the note, Chip!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

rjquillin


quality posts: 178 Private Messages rjquillin
ajrod27 wrote:If you have time to hit a third winery in Healdsburg, I highly recommend Teldeschi Winery. He hasn't been on woot YET, but he's a favorite amongst the local wooters. Very nice, pre-aged wines

And almost guaranteed to be be the most entertaining if not the strangest of your visits. I think his motto must be drink no wine before it's time.

I sent a friend from SD there and was rewarded with a gift bottle when he returned for the suggestion.

CT

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo

One final, friendly bump before we fly out tomorrow.

I think we've got plenty of places to choose from and I've been able to get in contact with some winemakers as well.

Thanks again for the tips, everyone!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

loveladyelectric


quality posts: 23 Private Messages loveladyelectric
sdilullo wrote:One final, friendly bump before we fly out tomorrow.

I think we've got plenty of places to choose from and I've been able to get in contact with some winemakers as well.

Thanks again for the tips, everyone!



One more bump for Palmaz! Make you sure call at least a day ahead and have 2-3 hours free for the tour. Such an awesome facility, and really good wine.

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
loveladyelectric wrote:One more bump for Palmaz! Make you sure call at least a day ahead and have 2-3 hours free for the tour. Such an awesome facility, and really good wine.



We'll see what we can do!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

loveladyelectric


quality posts: 23 Private Messages loveladyelectric

Let us know how it went!

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
loveladyelectric wrote:Let us know how it went!



I meant to do just that earlier this week, but I've been swamped! So, without further adieu...

Friday:

  • F. Teldeschi - Great tasting, there were 4 other people in the small tasting room when we arrived. They left and we chatted with Dan for, I don't know, another 30 minutes? I think he said he only uses 1-2% of his grapes; the rest are sold to other wineries in the area. Great guy, great wines. We bought a bottle of his '00 and '02 Terranovas.

  • Michel Schlumberger - Beautiful place with an outdoor terrace and fountain. It started off a bit rocky, as our server kind of forgot about us for 15 minutes. On the bright side, they comp'ed the tasting ($10 or $15/person) and we got a glass or two from their club-level tasting menu. Probably the largest pours of any place we visited, too. My wife really liked their Pinot Blanc and we bought a bottle.

  • White Oak - We didn't visit their tasting room; they conducted a small tasting at our B&B (Raford Inn) that evening. It was really nice, especially with the fruits, nuts, and cheeses that were set out. Neither of us thought any of their wines were superb, but they were still all quite drinkable.

--------------------------------------------------

We had dinner at the Backyard in downtown Forestville after our mini-tasting at the B&B on Friday night. Locally-sourced, very fresh sort of menu. She had pesto pasta and I had salmon. Definitely was a good meal but the service was just average. I'd probably give it a 3.5-4/5 rating.

--------------------------------------------------

Saturday:

  • Raford Inn - Although this isn't a winery, our B&B absolutely must be on this list. Dane, one of the innkeepers, also makes wine from the roughly 100 vines located on the property. He gave us a tour Saturday morning - and it was truly the best, most intimate tour we've ever experienced. We spent nearly two hours, just us and Dane, walking through the vineyards with him as he explained literally every part of the winemaking process, answering every question we could come up with. I must've asked him 20-25 on my own! Then we got to go into his cellar and do a pseudo-vertical tasting of the three wines he's currently aging, along with a bottled version. The three zinfandels were spectacular and it was an awesome experience to actually taste the development of the different vintages. Beyond the tour, the grounds were beautiful, room comfortable, and food great. Can't recommend the place enough; we'll be back some day!

  • Iron Horse - A Woot classic, that I've never purchased, but can now say I've tasted... so we'll know what to buy next time it shows up on here! Beautiful tasting area high up on a hill overlooking much of the region. We did a Standard ($15) and Reserve ($20) tasting. Around this time, I got smart and started taking notes on my phone, which I'll start tacking on below:
    1. 2008 Brut-X : strong apple nose, creamy sight banana taste, dry but not overly so, great with sushi
    2. 2009 summer's cuvee - nose mineral, floral, bright flavor, med dry - nice even sweet/dry balance, crisp
    3. 2010 unoaked chardonnay - full bodied, light, crisp, apple nose, very clean, good.
    4. 2011 estate pinot - Light to medium bodied, nose very berry, hint of spice, slightly smoky, fruity
    5. 2011 Russian river pinot - medium body, smoother than estate, tastes a bit like cherry, prefer over estate, fave of the three
    6. 2010 Thomas road pinot - light to med body, nose much stronger berry and smoky, doesn't taste as fruity

  • Joseph Swan - Another recommendation from this thread that we enjoyed. Maybe not just as much as Teldeschi but they put together a very nice tasting - one of the better spots on our trip. We purchased a bottle of their '07 Stellwagen Zin and a '12 Saralee's Gewürztraminer.
    1. 2012 Gewurzt - dryer but still hint of sweetness, like
    2. 2011 Cuvee chardonnay - fruity, not very oaky, hint of banana, like
    3. 2012 next door rose - not typical, a little buttery, would drink
    4. 2010 saralee pinot noir - fruit and spice on the nose, slightly dry, very flavorful, fruit forward
    5. 2010 cuvee pinot noir - med body, light spice fruit nose, flavor of dark berries
    6. 2006 great oak syrah - Med body, bit of alcohol on nose, dry, tastes like licorice, not great
    7. 2007 stellwagen Zinfandel - full bodied, nose of berry and spice, cherry, very old vines (1880s), tastes of strawberry, tad hot, little pepper, very good

  • V. Sattui - A recommendation from a friend, and it seems the Yelp popularity (along with them having their annual Italian festival on the day we were there) has pushed this place into "every tourist comes here" status. The wines ($15 tasting fee for the reserve selections) weren't bad - heck, we bought a bottle of their '10 Ancient Vine Zin - but it was a madhouse. Crowded, super noisy, you felt a bit rushed. We might go back if we were there again during the offseason and to visit their great deli, but overall we weren't that impressed.
    1. 2010 Merlot - Medium body, earthy nose, very floral, almost a hint of sulfur, slight buttery finish, good
    2. 2010 old vine zin - med to full body, berry, fruit, slight spice, dry finish, pretty good
    3. 2009 cab sauvignon organic -light to medium body, fruity nose, fruity palate, clean dry finish, average overall
    4. 2009 cab sauvignon morisoli - medium body, tad bit of earthiness and spice, concentrated fruitiness, quite good
    5. 2010 ancient zin - med body, very fruity, delicious
    6. 2009 paradiso - full body, berry, dry, good

--------------------------------------------------

We stayed at the Volcano Union Inn on Saturday night - and had dinner and breakfast there. Dinner was spectacular - thoroughly upscale pub fare made with all locally-sourced ingredients. Wife had the sauteed scallop special (delicious) and I had their take on fried chicken (it's baked first - also delicious) with a ridiculously good side of mac & cheese with house-smoked cheddar. We had a seared peach and pork belly appetizer and a fresh peach cobbler for dessert, too. Num num num. They had a ton of local wines by the glass (saw Scott Harvey's name on the menu) and a nice, local beer selection. Not sure I can give anything a perfect 5/5, it was a solid 4.5+/5 for sure.

--------------------------------------------------

Sunday:

  • Vino Noceto - Yet another Woot favorite, and one I was very much looking forward to visiting. We were there right as they opened at 11am. Very nice little tasting room with bread and sun-dried tomato spread to go along with the great wines. Absolutely one of my favorite spots. We bought a bottle of their '09 OGP Zin but I wanted most everything we tasted, had we not already come close to hitting the 50 lb max for the checked luggage! I'd definitely consider joining their wine club since you get a case of the always-excellent sangiovese along with a half case of their special, reserve reds.

  • Terre Rouge / Easton - Literally next door to Noceto, we though we'd give it a try. Tasting fee was $5/person (refunded w/purchase) and we sampled a bunch of wines, probably 8-10 total. The area's known for their barberas and I certainly don't disagree; we enjoyed most everything we tried. They also had a nice little cracker/spread setup.
    1. 2007 Easton monarch mine barbera - light to med body, very good
    2. 2010 sierra foothills cab franc - med body, smells a little like bug spray, tastes like olives
    3. 2007 easton zin old vine fiddletown - light to med body, great nose, spice, tiny bit of anise, twizzler?, very good
    4. 2009 mourvedre sierra foothills - smooth, good, maybe some dark fruit
    5. 2000 sentinel oak pyramid block syrah - a little spice and smoke, very tasty
    6. 2007 Shenandoah valley estate zinfandel - med body, spice, fruit

  • Andis Wines - Also near Noceto, this time across the street. Beautiful, modern building and a very sleek tasting room. $5 tasting fee and they had goldfish crackers out in bowls. Nothing jumps out in my head and I didn't take a ton of notes, so I suppose that would classify it as average. They did, however, have a food truck in the parking lot and I had one of the best carniatas tacos I've ever tasted - so bonus points for that!
    1. 2011 primitivo - smooth, fruit, good
    2. 2012 cab franc - nice blend, good
    3. 2010 petite syrah - smooth, fruit, good
    4. 2012 rose - not too sweet, good

  • Amador Cellars - Only a few hundred feet down the road, a very neat cellar/tasting room all in one. I'd also put everything in the average catagory for this palate. I didn't actually take any notes here but I recall tasting some zinfandels and barberas. Looking at a few Yelp reviews on the place, it sounds like their wines may benefit from aging - and I don't recall anything we tasted being that old. So perhaps that's why I was slightly underwhelmed.

  • Scott Harvey - Our final stop, and a very pleasant one as most things with Scott & Jana tend to be. I had emailed them in advance to see if they would be there to say hello (we saw them at the wine dinner in Wooster, OH earlier this year) but unfortunately they were out of town. Still, we walked into the tasting room in Sutter Creek and they were expecting us; Jana had told the staff we'd be there. Certainly a nice, and appreciated, touch. We tasted a bunch of wines and all were good. I didn't take notes since we already own quite a few of them but I was impressed with most. It was a nice experience and the perfect conclusion to three relatively full days of wine tasting!

--------------------------------------------------

So there you have it! Sorry for the ridiculously long recap, but hopefully there's a lot of useful information in here for future travelers. We had a great trip and the only regret was that we couldn't make it a week instead of a weekend. You could easily spend a year out there and not taste at every winery, of course.

Two biggies I wish we'd have managed to fit in are Meeker and Hendry. The latter actually had a last-minute opening on their highly-regarded tour but we simply couldn't make it there from Healdsburg in time. I'm definitely going to make sure we get to visit Hendry (and Meeker) next time we're out there.

We enjoyed both the Amador and Healdsburg regions. They're very different in terms of both scenery and wines. I think, if (no... when!) we go back, we'll probably stick to the Healdsburg/Napa area, though. Not because there's anything bad about Amador! There are just so many places we didn't get to see and most tend to be closer to Healdsburg/Napa.

Thanks one last time for all the great suggestions, folks. They helped!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

rjquillin


quality posts: 178 Private Messages rjquillin
sdilullo wrote:I meant to do just that earlier this week, but I've been swamped! So, without further adieu...
{snipped}
Thanks one last time for all the great suggestions, folks. They helped!

Very nice posting!
Hopefully the mods will give you a York Peppermint Patty on this one.

CT

JOATMON


quality posts: 19 Private Messages JOATMON
rjquillin wrote:Very nice posting!
Hopefully the mods will give you a York Peppermint Patty on this one.



Now that is a filter...

Juvie: 30+24+4; Sellout: 6+7+0
Rags: 3+2+3
Drunk: 69+94+15 wine, 20+29+4 non-wine
Rugrat: 0+0+0; Refunded: 2+3+1
(as of 2011-03-02)

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
rjquillin wrote:Very nice posting!
Hopefully the mods will give you a York Peppermint Patty on this one.



Thanks!

JOATMON wrote:Now that is a filter...



Indeed. Woot never disappoints, right?

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

chipgreen


quality posts: 195 Private Messages chipgreen

Thanks for the update, glad you had a good time!

sdilullo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages sdilullo
chipgreen wrote:Thanks for the update, glad you had a good time!



Thanks, Chip - it was a great trip!

my CT | bottles wooted to date: 255
my flying adventures | a mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.