Kunde Family Winery

I’ve been told for months from fellow wine lovers to go to Sonoma and visit Kunde. Last weekend I finally made my way over to Sonoma and stopped by for a walk-in tasting. Kunde is a beaut with its rolling hills with perfectly lined vines surrounding the spectacular estate.

I was unaware how big of a deal Kunde is. The winery was established in 1904 as Wildwood Vineyard and in 1989 was reestablished as Kunde. It is currently one of the largest family owned wineries in Sonoma with over 1,850 acres. Also fun fact: Bottle Shock, a movie explaining the story of how Napa/Sonoma were put on the map by the Paris blind tasting, was filmed at Kunde. Many familiar scenes right there on the premise.

I enjoyed the stories the staff member told us during our tasting and I appreciated the passion she has towards the wine. My husband and I each got a tasting and we each picked different wines so we could try each others.

Tasting:

There are quite a few tasting options. We walked in and found a place at the inside tasting bar but if you wish to do a different tasting I would suggest making reservations as it can get crowded.

“Tastings are $15 per person for our Main Bar Tasting, $30 per person for our Kinneybrook Room Tasting, complimentary for Wine Club members (up to 4 people) and $50 per person for our Mountain Top Tasting, $30 for Wine Club members up to 4 people.”

We strayed a bit from the $15 tasting menu with trying some of the reserve wines and I do suggest trying and comparing.

My Favorites:

2014 Meritage 202 – The blending of five Bordeauxvarieties forms a distinct nose of dried cranberries, nutmeg and walnuts. This pleasing bouquet is enhanced by opulent, full mouth flavors of black cherry, red currant and cinnamon.

2014 Dunfillan Cuvée – Named after the original winery built on the Kunde Estate in the late 1800’s, our Dunfillan Cuvee is a bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend.

Wine Club Exclusive Cinnamon, dark chocolate and blueberry aromas meld with flavors of cassis, mulled spice and lavender.

1904 Dessert Cuvee– my favorite part about this was it went so well with the dark chocolate and sea salt they give you to pair with it. It’s a match made in heaven

Sum it up:

  1. large spacious winery with 360 views of hillside vines and mountains in the distance
  1. Club membership
  2. Awesome passionate staff

“Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.”

Robert Mondavi said it best, “Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.” Winemakers are artists for sure and I truly appreciate when a winemaker appreciates and displays other artists work.

The following list are a few wineries/vineyards that show appreciation to artists by displaying their art for visitors to enjoy:

Markham Vineyards: 

Displays the art by Harold and Peggy Francis.

Image result for markham vineyard art

“Harold’s art drawing inspiration from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms and his vivid imagination, Harold uses an intricate technique of layering color, shape and texture. As he paints new patterns and images emerge drawing the viewer deeper and deeper into his creations.

“Animals Among Us” series by artist, Peggy Francis, honors animals that are integral to our Napa Valley lifestyle. Farm life is deeply rooted in Peggy’s southern childhood, images are recalled from her Mammaw’s chickens, pigs, and milk cow and the cattle and horses on her family farm. These contemporary paintings of the farm animals among us speak to our collective longing for the gentler pace of agrarian life we experience in the Napa Valley.”

Artist website: http://www.2718indistudio.com/

Vineyard Website: http://www.markhamvineyards.com/visit-us/art-gallery

Mumm Napa:

Image result for mumm napa photography gallery

Mumm has photography on display from Ansel Adams and Wayne Levin. Adams’ twenty-seven gelatin silver prints includes many of his most famous photographs. Levin’s photographs made beneath the surface of the waves have captivated viewers for decades.

Website: https://www.mummnapa.com/visitmummnapa/fine-arts-gallery

The Hess Collection:

Image result for the hess collection art

“Donald Hess began collecting art in 1966. Today, The Hess Collection houses less than a quarter of a collection that is shown in museums worldwide. His collecting style is a personal endeavor driven by passion rather than monetary investment or current trends. He develops a close dialogue with an artist to better understand what drives him or her to create and he carefully limits his focus as a collector to 20 living artists whose work he faithfully supports long term. As is evident by the caliber of the collection, he collects with the uncanny ability to acquire works by lesser known artists who often go on to become well known and respected in their disciplines. His typical commitment to an artist spans decades and various stages of his career.”

Here are a few artists in his collection to check out:

Franz Gertsch
Robert Motherwell
Anselm Kiefer
Magdalena Abakanowicz
Leopoldo Maler
Francis Bacon
Gerhard Richter

Website: http://www.hesscollection.com/art/

Jamieson Ranch Vineyards:

Image result for jamieson ranch art

Upon approaching Jamieson Ranch you can very clearly see from the road the loud colorful graffiti-esk mural. I loved how they had a rustic feel and then added this urban pop. Contributing artists include popular SF Bay Area urban muralists Ricky Watts, Meagan Spendlove, “Griffin One” and Chris Jehly; self-taught Los Angeles artists “Duce” and “Haste” and ubiquitous graffiti specialist “Quake,” who is bringing his style from New York City.

Website: http://www.jamiesonranchvineyards.com/music-and-art

Hall Wines:

Image result for hall wines art

“Avid lifelong art collectors, Craig and Kathryn Hall are delighted to invite guests to enjoy expressive art and world-class wines. HALL St. Helena and HALL Rutherford feature select works that are sure to inspire the senses. Featuring some of the most internationally acclaimed artists today, such as John Baldessari, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave, Jaume Plensa, guests will be guided through the collection, while tasting some of HALL’s amazing wines.”

Website: http://www.hallwines.com/visit/winery-experiences/hall-architecture-art

Seven Stones Winery:

Image result for seven stones winery art

“Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ron Wornick, an accomplished woodworker in his own right, along with his wife Anita, began actively collecting master artisan pieces made from wood, ceramics, glass, fiber, and metal. Within 20 years, the Wornicks had created one of the premier contemporary craft collections in the world. The collection has been on view at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, American Craft Museum in New York, the Oakland Museum of California, and the McAllen Museum in South Texas.”

Website: https://www.sevenstoneswinery.com/pages/art.html

Please let me know if you have any other great wineries you know of that have awesome art displays!! (Pictures are not by me)

@happensforariesling or happensforariesling@gmail.com

Madonna Estate

This boutique winery only sells at the winery and online via their website. I enjoyed the feel of this winery due to the humble and warm staff and great reds.

For a rather smaller winery they have quite a variety. I enjoyed during the tastings walking around the tasting room and looking at the merchandise from local artists and craftsmen but mostly I enjoyed speaking with the staff and hearing their stories. One was a wine lover and enjoyed coming on Saturday’s to meet new people and talk wine and the other was a nice High School math teacher that had a passion for wine as well.

Madonna Estate emanates that country rustic feel that just warms your heart.

Tasting:

2013 Estate Pinot Noir: ($32) Aged in French Oak for 9 months and is extremely fruit forward, and is an excellent “food” pairing wine that accompanies many dishes such as; grilled salmon, stuffed mushrooms, polenta, and tenderloin of beef.

2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: ($34) It is aged in oak for 18 – 24 months. On the nose I got Jalapeno! On the palate our Cabernet has a structured mouth feel with soft tannins and herbal undertones. Our Cabernet Sauvignon compliments filet mignon, pork tenderloin, and hearty tomato based pasta dishes.

 

My purchases:

 

I ended up getting the Pinot Noir – My husband enjoyed the fruit forward flavor.

Visiting & Tasting:

$15 – includes 4 wines :

  1. 2013 Estate Chardonnay
  2. 2013 Estate Pinot Noir
  3. 2014 Barbera
  4. 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Sum it up:

  1. Great reds!
  2. Extra friendly staff
  3.  Prices are a bit high but boutique small batch wines.

 

 

Larson Family Winery

Larson Family Winery has a great vibe! We arrived on a party bus with 20+ people. Larson has an awesome outdoor area where you can taste wine, play outdoor lawn games and you are right next to the vineyard. We spent over 2 hours there. We had a server come to our tables to taste 5 wines and explain the characteristics of each. She was very friendly and patient with our large and rowdy group.

My friend, husband and I decided to do another tasting at the bar inside to cool off from the blazing sun. The man who served us was funny and knowledgeable.  The tasting was 5 wines however he was generous with his pours and allowed us to taste a few of the higher tiered wines. There is also 3 labs, Buster, Bubba, and Pete that roam around the winery and they are featured on the wines. I loved that! Larson Family Winery makes you feel like you are part of the family.

My favorites:

2013 3 Lab Cab: BEST TASTED WITH THEIR CHOCOLATE SAUCE!! DO IT! Rich full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Merlot. The North Coast appellation provides cool coastal air and fog and consistently cooler temperatures for growing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The blend is smooth yet structured providing mild tannins. Tastes of dark ripe cherry make this a perfect wine for grilled meats or chocolate treats.

2014 Larson Family Gewürztraminer: Showcases a rich, complex Alsatian style. Made in the medium-dry style, (1.6% residual sugar), this wine expresses a layer of seductive flavors such as lychee, Muscat, citrus, and tropical fruits. Enjoy this wine with spicy Asian food. Great for picnics or just a nice summer sipper alone. The cool Carneros climate produces a naturally crisp balanced wine, which will age well in years to come..

 

Visiting & Tasting:

Picnic Table & Tasting reservations can be made online for
11:30 – 1:30 & 2:30 – 4:30

5 wines for $15 per person + 18% gratuity/service charge may apply.

This can vary depending on if you would like to try higher tiered wines.

Sum it up:

  1. Great outdoor space with cornhole and room to throw a football around
  2. Country feel with goats and sheep on the property and the 3 labs lounging around.
  3. Tastings are cheap and plentiful

Ravenswood Winery

This was my final stop on my wine tour! It was a small but had some reds with big taste! Ravenswood was a “lil bit country” which I found endearing.  They are not trying to wow visitors with a large fancy estate, but capture drinkers who appreciate excellent reds (especially Zinfandels!!!). Ravenswood say’s they “stand by our love of old-vine varieties and our belief in traditional Old-World winemaking”.

Throughout Sonoma I saw very thin and long vines however at Ravenswood, the vines were “Ancient” literally that is what the vine is called. They appeared short, thick and wild! During February the grapes were already harvested so they were bare but these gorgeous bright yellow flowers surrounded the vines.

My favorites:

2014 Ravenswood Estate Zinfandel Sonoma Valley: Layered with flavors of raspberry jam, espresso, and supple tannins. Nicely balanced and mouth wateringly juicy.

2012 Ravenswood Bedrock Vineyard Barbera Sonoma Valley: Huge aromas of red cherries, strawberry, black currant, plum, and figs with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, licorice, toast and spice.

Visiting & Tasting:

Vineyard Designate Tasting: Rare, small lot Zinfandel gems!

$18 per person

Bordeaux Single Vineyard Tasting: Rare, small lot Cabernet Blends!

$18 per person

They have other tours and tasting information on their website

Sum it up:

  1. Perfected Zinfindels
  2. Country/hometown feel
  3. Small batches made at the winery and only sold there.

Nicholson Ranch

This was the second stop on my wine tour from SF. Located in Sonoma, this vineyard is a stunner for sure. The views from Estate are just breathtaking and are alone worth stopping for.

I honestly didn’t get the warmest feeling at this place at first but I was with a large tour group that was an eager bunch. However, the sommelier was knowledgeable and seemed passionate about the history of the brand.

We tasted two wines the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir. They pride themselves in that their grapes are grown naturally and sustainably, this was clear when tasting their wines. Nicholson Ranch also is only sold at the vineyard or online, so make sure to grab it when you visit!

My favorites:

2011 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: The 2011 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is reminiscent of a spring wildflower meadow – floral aromas mingling with sunshine, cool fresh air and green grass. The blend of floral and fruit aromas combined with a creamy texture served in a cool glass deliver a comforting wine. Citrus and orchard fruit aromas blend with vanilla and hints of clove and nutmeg. The aromas of orange zest accentuate the peach and nectarine flavors in the wine. Rounding out the flavors are the taste of vanilla crème custard with a sprinkle of toasted walnuts. The texture of this Chardonnay is creamy with good structure on the finish.

2011 Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley Estate: Summer of 2011 experienced an extended cool season resulting in a late harvest at the end of September. Fruit flavors developed nicely in the berries with the benefit of extended hang-time in the vineyard. 2011 Sonoma Valley Estate Pinot Noir The Estate Pinot Noir – the first release from the 2011 harvest has aromas of fruit, tea and spice. Bright cherry and cranberry aromas mingle with vanilla and cinnamon and the seductive scent of hibiscus. The fruit flavors are of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and boysenberry. Displaying a well balanced acidity and a slight touch of tannins this wine tastes delicious now and I expect the 2011 Estate Pinot to get denser with time integrating the berry flavors with a smooth silky texture.

Visiting & Tasting:

Vintner’s Tasting – $15
Wine Makers Tasting – $25

Visit their website for more details on tastings and tours.

Sum it up:

  1. High-quality wine
  2. Gorgeous views of Sonoma
  3. Only sold at vineyard or online

 

Cline Cellars

Cline was the first stop on a wine tour I took from San Francisco. This was my first vineyard in California! Cline is located in Sonoma and is a MUST visit.

This winery has charm and really checked all boxes for me! I would 100 % visit Cline again.

Arriving we were greeted by warm knowledgeable staff members that were excited to tell us about Cline, the wine and get us tasting the goods.

Cline sells wine in most retail stores (I buy mine in Safeway, although the Rose is not available there) and is very affordable! My favorite wine at Cline is the Viognier and Rosé.

My favorites:

2015 North Coast Viognier: a rich, perfumed varietal, this wine has pineapple, peach, and apricot flavors, with accents of floral and citrus notes. Pairs well with Gruyere or Camembert cheese, sushi, or tarragon chicken.

2015 Ancient Vines Mourvèdre Rosé: Floral raspberry and vanilla aromas and user-friendly watermelon, cherry and spice flavor. Pairs with spicy foods, chicken Provencal, salmon and Teriyaki.

Visiting & Tasting:

“We offer complimentary drop-in tastings for groups of up to 6 people.” It doesn’t get any better than that people! Also there are other private tastings you can schedule through their website.

The grounds are quaint and modest, nothing lavish but definitely nice to walk around while tasting. They animals on site too if you decide to bring children.

Sum it up:

  1. Affordable wine
  2. Free tastings
  3. Warm staff