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...
- 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.
- 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:
- 2008 Brut-X : strong apple nose, creamy sight banana taste, dry but not overly so, great with sushi
- 2009 summer's cuvee - nose mineral, floral, bright flavor, med dry - nice even sweet/dry balance, crisp
- 2010 unoaked chardonnay - full bodied, light, crisp, apple nose, very clean, good.
- 2011 estate pinot - Light to medium bodied, nose very berry, hint of spice, slightly smoky, fruity
- 2011 Russian river pinot - medium body, smoother than estate, tastes a bit like cherry, prefer over estate, fave of the three
- 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.
- 2012 Gewurzt - dryer but still hint of sweetness, like
- 2011 Cuvee chardonnay - fruity, not very oaky, hint of banana, like
- 2012 next door rose - not typical, a little buttery, would drink
- 2010 saralee pinot noir - fruit and spice on the nose, slightly dry, very flavorful, fruit forward
- 2010 cuvee pinot noir - med body, light spice fruit nose, flavor of dark berries
- 2006 great oak syrah - Med body, bit of alcohol on nose, dry, tastes like licorice, not great
- 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.
- 2010 Merlot - Medium body, earthy nose, very floral, almost a hint of sulfur, slight buttery finish, good
- 2010 old vine zin - med to full body, berry, fruit, slight spice, dry finish, pretty good
- 2009 cab sauvignon organic -light to medium body, fruity nose, fruity palate, clean dry finish, average overall
- 2009 cab sauvignon morisoli - medium body, tad bit of earthiness and spice, concentrated fruitiness, quite good
- 2010 ancient zin - med body, very fruity, delicious
- 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.
- 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.
- 2007 Easton monarch mine barbera - light to med body, very good
- 2010 sierra foothills cab franc - med body, smells a little like bug spray, tastes like olives
- 2007 easton zin old vine fiddletown - light to med body, great nose, spice, tiny bit of anise, twizzler?, very good
- 2009 mourvedre sierra foothills - smooth, good, maybe some dark fruit
- 2000 sentinel oak pyramid block syrah - a little spice and smoke, very tasty
- 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!
- 2011 primitivo - smooth, fruit, good
- 2012 cab franc - nice blend, good
- 2010 petite syrah - smooth, fruit, good
- 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!
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