Sonoma County: Articles on California's Sonoma County Wine Region

Tandem Wines' Greg La Follette on Terroir, Points, and Pinot Noir

Greg La Follette is one of the most revered winemakers in Sonoma County, if not the entire wine industry. His wines at both Flowers and his own label, Tandem Wines, have earned numerous accolades. In person, however, his prominence seems more like water under the bridge. Strikingly unpretentious and engaging, Greg La Follette shows far more interest in what you think about his wines today than he does about how they score or what critics say. IntoWine had the good fortune of chatting with Greg recently about winemaking, terroir, and the blessed curse of wine scoring systems.

Winemaker David Vergari Talks Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and....Armed Guards?

Sometimes there are people you encounter in life who, the minute you meet them, you think "This guy has a story to tell and I bet he tells it well." David Vergari is that guy. A veteran winemaker, David launched his own eponymous label, Vergari Wines, in 2003. He recently sat down with IntoWine to share with us his evolution as a winemaker and, most interestingly, the stories "behind the wine".

You founded the Vergari Wine Company in 2003. What inspired you to strike out on your own?

It happened in two ways: gradually, then quite suddenly.

River Bend Ranch Winery

The Vibe: 

River Bend Ranch Winery is a "new" old winery (read this story for the background). Wine industry veterans Susie and Hampton Bynum are behind this old winery with a new label, having operated the winery since 1973.

The winery itself is a rustic and charming old farm house. You feel like you are visiting somebody's grandparents as you navigate up the drive.

Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Wines from the famous Bynum family.
  • A quaint, quiet, tasting experience that feels like a step back in time to a simpler age.
Not good for: 
  • Event hosting such as weddings or corporate gatherings.
  • Group picnics of any sort.
  • Large groups or busses without a prior appointment.
  • People seeking guided tours.
Pictures: 

Locations

8075 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
United States
38° 31' 16.536" N, 122° 52' 50.2212" W
8075 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
United States
38° 31' 16.536" N, 122° 52' 50.2212" W
Phone Number: 
7074332611

Moshin Vineyards

The Vibe: 
Moshin is a bare bones tasting experience. The staff was particularly engaging during my unannounced visit, even scheduling an impromptu tour for a visiting group ahead of me. Moshin is the tasting room to try if you are really into wine as there is nothing there to experience other than the wines. The casual wine country day tripper may be bored.
Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Good Pinot Noir.
  • Guided tours are given by appointment. They are offered based on the availability of a staff member to serve as the guide. A little patience may be worthwhile as the staff is eager to share information.
Not good for: 
  • Picnics, big group or small.
  • Event hosting such as weddings or corporate gatherings.
  • Food and wine pairings.
  • Anything "visual" such as relaxing gardens, scenic views, or impressive architecture.
Known For: 
Pinot Noir
Pictures: 

Locations

10295 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
United States
38° 30' 6.2604" N, 122° 53' 42.1476" W
10295 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
United States
38° 30' 6.2604" N, 122° 53' 42.1476" W
Phone Number: 
7074335499

Freeman Winery: A Tail of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Hurricane Gloria

It's almost like a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film. A young man meets the woman of his dreams after his sailboat is chased ashore by a hurricane. Marriage and career success ensue and years later the happy couple end up running a Sonoma winery that just so happens to produce some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in all of California. Yes, Ken Freeman's life story may indeed be one of which movies are made. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Ken Freeman about his eponymous winery, Freeman Vineyard and Winery, as well as his unique path to becoming a revered wine maker.

From Chardonnay to Pinot Noir: Brice Cutrer Jones Discusses the Evolution of a Winemaker

Brice Cutrer Jones is virtually synonymous with California Chardonnay (Hint: Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay).

Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room (Kenwood)

The Vibe: 

The Mayo Family Reserve Room (there is also one in Healdsburg) is the food and wine pairing sister to the main Mayo Family Winery tasting room in Glen Ellen. At the Kenwood Reserve Room, it's all about food and wine pairing and Mayo does it very well. Approximately seven different wines are paired with small samples of food, expertly prepared by an in-house chef.

It's highly recommended to call ahead for reservations. Mayo accepts walk-ins but you run the chance of a long wait depending on the timing. Much better to call ahead and go tasting for an hour or so prior to your appointment. Groups of ten or more should definately make reservations as the tasting room is small.

Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Simply a great place for a casual food and wine pairing experieince.
Not good for: 
  • Large groups.
  • Anything other than a great food and wine pairing experience. Though note that the food portions are taste size bites so this is by no means going to serve as a meal.
Known For: 
Food and wine pairing
Pictures: 

Location

9200 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
United States
38° 25' 1.8588" N, 122° 32' 56.6052" W
Phone Number: 
7078335504

Kenwood Vineyards

The Vibe: 
Kenwood has an old -but nicely refurbished- barn-like feel to it. Professional yet cozy, Kenwood is a great place for any collector of wine labels as their Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon focuses on contemporary artist created wine labels.
Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Good Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Chardonnay.
  • "Cuvée" style wines.
  • Cool, unique or interesting wine labels. The Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon uniquely blends art and wine.
  • A place that can handle large groups. Kenwood's tasting room is sizable so your tasting entourage can likely be accomodated.
Not good for: 
  • Large group event hosting such as a wedding or corporate event.
  • People seeking grand architecture or magnificent gardens. Kenwood is well kept and nice, but not spectacular.
  • Picnics. Though Kenwood has picnic facilities, this isn't the place to plan a destination picnic.
Known For: 
Sauvignon Blanc, Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay
Pictures: 

Locations

9592 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
United States
38° 24' 50.6736" N, 122° 32' 45.4056" W
9592 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
United States
38° 24' 50.6736" N, 122° 32' 45.4056" W
Phone Number: 
7078335891

Journey de la Montanya

A pickup party is one of the standard perks of wine club membership. Usually 3 or 4 times a year, club members who live close enough by, or who happen to be visiting the area, pick up the newly released club selections on a special day at the winery. Lots of wine is poured (of course) with complementary foods, often a barbecue, and sometimes, live music. It was all of these at the club pickup party we visited at De La Montanya Winery & Vineyards.

Keeping it in the Family: Andrew Nalle Philosophizes About Life as a Family Winemaker

The first thing I notice about Nalle Winery in Healdsburg is the row of gnarled, thick stumped Zinfandel vines lining the pathway up to the large red barn where the Nalle family makes their wine. The vines look much older than many of the other grapevines I’ve seen planted in wineries nearby, and indeed they are. These vines, planted in 1927 by Andrew Nalle’s great grandfather attest to the long lineage, hard work and love for the earth that characterizes the wines of Nalle Winery. At age 29, Andrew Nalle is working closely with his father Doug to keep the tradition alive.

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