Ledson Winery

Oddly before I went to Ledson winery I have not yet heard of it. Upon arrive I realized what I’ve been missing. The winery grounds are stunning, acres of grapes surrounding this massive estate reassembling a castle. Who knew Sonoma had so many Castle like wineries. We didn’t have a reservation so we headed to the wine tasting room which was very rich with ornate wood and crown molding all around. We decided against doing a tasting and opted to purchase a few bottles and have a picnic. There is a store within the winery that has tons of picnic snacks and other fun wine related goodies.

In the back of the estate there is more vines, big trees that shade a few picnic tables. We sat there for over an hour eating, drinking and enjoying the fresh air.

As for wine I tried their:

2014 REDWOOD VALLEY ‘RICETTI LANE’ ZINFANDEL: $32

Stunning aromas of fresh ripe blackberry and raspberry draw you in. The palate is broad with warm blackberry, notes of vanilla, and a hint of cocoa, reminiscent of a delicious homemade berry pie. Leather and peppery spice give it a robustness with a unique, bold, and velvety finish.

2016 SONOMA VALLEY ‘FREY FAMILY VINEYARDS’ CHARDONNAY -$28

Brightly colored, it exudes pronounced aromas of Meyer lemon and white peach. Guava and green apple spill over the palate with a pure, bright mouthfeel and lengthy, refreshing finish of green apple and nectarine with a hint of biscotti.

Ledson for me was a hidden gem. It’s definitely a place I will visit again and bring friends and family so they can have their jaw drop too when arriving and seeing its beauty.

Chateau St. Jean

Visited Chateau St. Jean to try their morning bites pairing where they pair their wines with croissants, breakfast cheeses and chocolates. It was different than from what I’m used and I appreciated the change and the fact I could drink wine with breakfast. As our party arrived we were greeted with sparkling rosé and was escorted into our private tasting room.

The tasting was $30 for 4 wines and that included the bites. We were able to choose between 6 wines to accommodate those people who “don’t like whites” and “especially don’t like Chardonnay”. I picked 2 whites and 2 reds.

The whites were:

2015 Le Soul Chardonnay

2014 Reserve Chardonnay

The reds were:

2015 Le Soul Pinot Noir

2014 Cinq Cépages

I truly enjoyed the reds both the pinot noir and the cinq cépages stood out as excellent quality and balanced wines.

The service we received was great. I felt at first impressions the chateau seemed like it would come with people that had an air about them, however they were all far from it. Everyone was very welcoming and it was a relaxed atmosphere at the Chateau.

Chateau St. Jean makes you feel like your in a storybook with it’s perfectly manicured gardens and ivy covered buildings fit for a princess. It is worth heading a little north of Sonoma for this gem.

Prettiest Rosé in the Garden

Given we are just beginning rosé season I thought I’d share some beautiful rosé wines to drink this spring & summer or if you are willing to share they make the best gifts. I know your not “supposed” to judge a wine but it’s label however sometimes it’s just best of both worlds scenario and they are blessed with looks and taste. Enjoy the following list of rosés that I personally thought were some of the prettiest out there:

Summer in a Bottle Rosé 2017 by Wolffer Estate Vineyard – $25

This unique shiny coppery rosé gold color stems from its blend of 51% Merlot 23% Chardonnay 9% Gewürztraminer 8% Cabernet Franc 5% Cabernet Sauvignon 4% Riesling. This isn’t called summer in a bottle for nothing. It’s the bright fruit, melon and lychee that make you feel like you are drinking summer. Made and bottled in New York!

Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rose 2016 -$15.99

This peachy Rosé is from Languedoc-Roussillon, France.  

The bouquet releases aromas of summer fruits, cassis and redcurrant. Floral notes of rose along with hints of grapefruit complete the picture. The finish is fresh, offering notes of candy. On the palate the impression is fresh and full, with great aromatic persistence and balance.

Notorious Pink 2016 Grenache Rose   -$ 16.99

This rosé is pale pink in color that exudes floral orange blossom aromas. Made from 100% Grenache from the South of France, we use mature berries to balance the flavors of ripe berries that gives it a wonderful acidity and soft minerality. I received this one from my amor for Valentines Day and truly the bottle is so feminine and pretty. Sleek opaque glass with a glass cork epitomizes class and elegance.

J Vineyards Sparkling Rose    –$31.99

Made in Cali (whoop whoop). This rosé yields aromas of strawberry, nectarine and juicy red apples. On the palate, the wine opens with flavors of cherry, orange, citrus peel and the tropical star fruit that are underlined by a bright acidity that keeps the impression delightfully fresh with a lively, lingering finish. This simplistic design is perfect for anyone you know that has a name that starts with J.

Armand de Brignac Rose –$ 439.97

Made in Champagne, France with a champagne in France price point. A stunning wine, with aromas of strawberries and toast layered over a creamy palate filled with apple tart and fresh berries. Elegant, supple and rich, with a balanced finish and fine mousse. One of the top Champagnes to be found today. This wine is for a very special occasion or if you have money to throw around. Not your average summer pool party rosé.

 

Cavicchioli 1928 Rosé Spumante Dolce is made from 100% Lambrusco grapes. In the vineyard, the vines are raised with a Guyot training system, with spurred cordon pruning, on loose mixed soils. When poured and tasted, white and evanescent foam; fine and lingering perlage; bright and pale pink “candy” color; fresh and fruity aroma; sweet, slightly spicy and aromatic taste with red fruit notes with a lingering aftertaste.

Tsarine Brut Rose NV -$49.99

Aromas of red fruits with hints of brioche; this Champagne brings layers of fruit and creaminess on palate with bright freshness leading to an elegant finish. This twisted glass bottle makes for a elegant gift to a friend worth giving a $50 bottle of rosé. Not your average summer picnic wine.

Everything’s Kosher at Hagafen Cellars

My in-laws from Maryland were in town this past weekend and I had to plan a outing to Napa. They are small town folk and I wanted to find a place where they would feel comfortable and the farthest thing from bouchie. I googled laid back wineries and somehow stumbled across Hagafen. The Yelp reviews were awesome and the place looked super quaint from all the pictures.

First off Hagafen requires reservations – so the night before, Saturday at 11:00 pm, I emailed hoping I would get an email or call saying they had space for Sunday. I was emailed promptly when they opened that they could accommodate. I called to confirm and let them know we needed to push back a little and they were very understanding.

When we arrived I instantly new I was going to like this place by the vibe I got walking in. The staffed was welcoming and instantly urged us to start tasting and have fun. We decided to do the “Current Release” tasting and they were gracious with letting us taste additional wines if we were curious throughout the 5 tastings.

They didn’t have strict limits on where or what you can and cannot do at this winery. They were very lax. They said please explore between tastings, “we have cornhole, chickens, feel free to walk through the vineyard and to check out the cellar”. This was AMAZING. There was ZERO rush which is uncommon with many wineries.

Also fun fact they are an all Kosher winery and have provided for years their wines to The White House when there are dinner parties where Kosher wines are needed (this was a fun fact).

I highly recommend going here for a laid back experience with tasty wines!

Tasting: 

Current Release and Reserve Tasting flights include 5 wine tastes selected by the guest.
Tasting fees are waived with a 1 bottle purchase from your flight.

Tasting are by appointment via email or calling them- last tasting is 4:15 pm

Current Release $20

Reserve Tasting: $30

Library Wines Flight: $40

My Favorites:

2016 Chardonnay ($30) 

Was very crisp with smells and tastes of citrus fruit such as green apple. Very light oaky tasty.

2016 Riesling -off dry ($24)

With only 2% residual sugar, it holds just the right amount of sweetness balanced by crisp, clean citrus notes of meyer lemon. The nose of this lovely wine jumps out at you with the scents of soft lemon verbena, orange and kiwi. The flavors continue onto the palate and are added to with sweet orange, Meyer lemon and honeysuckle.

Sum It Up:

  1. Extremely laid back
  2. Tasting fee is waved with with purchase.
  3. Smalltown feel in the bustling Napa Valley.

Stolo Family Vineyards

As my husband and I made our way down Route 101 to Saint Luis Obispo we decided to make a quick detour off the route to a little town called Cambria. This town is just the quaintest cozy little place. We saw on Yelp there was a winery located there called Stolo Family Vineyards so naturally we jetted over there ASAP to get a tasting before their last pour.

This winery is tucked back on acre and acres of land with perfectly line grape vines. The owners of the vineyard the Stolo Family live next door and have the cutest rustic farmhouse. The tasting room is bright and welcoming. There is picnic tables on the lawn for a nice day to sit eat some cheese and crackers and sip their wines. The atmosphere is great.

The staff was a young women and older women who were polite and knowledgeable. I enjoyed speaking with them and hearing their stories. Come to find out the younger women who attends Cal Poly is one of the winemakers there. So humble and cute.

If you are heading to Paso Robles or driving down or up Route 101, make sure to stop at Stolo Family Vineyards it will be sure to charm you.

My favorites:

2014 Estate Chardonnay: Bright straw in color with aromas of ripe honeydew, stone fruit, lime zest, and a touch of cream. This medium bodied white has magnificent minerality with concentrated flavors of crisp white peach, tangerine, pear, and a hint of fresh herb.  Rich tropical notes linger. We ended purchasing this one, the husband liked which isn’t common!

2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Creekside: On the nose, this beauty boasts notes of high-tones raspberry, black cherry, cocoa, rose petal and barrel spice.  Elegant dark fruit and strawberry flavors flood the silky palate along with notes of cinnamon and allspice. Ripe berry flavors linger for a long finish.

Visiting & Tasting:

No reservations required.

Tasting Room Hours:Open Wednesday-Monday 11:30am-5pm, last pour 4:45pm, closed on Tuesdays

$10 taste per person for 5 wines

Sum it up:

  1. Will charm the socks off ya.
  2. Affordable tasting fee and wine prices are reasonable.
  3. Warm staff that welcomes tasters with open arms.

 

St. Supery

 

After heading to V. Sattui we drove a whopping 8 minutes to get to St. Supery. St. Supery is more of a modern winery with beautiful vineyards surrounding the estate. There is a definite modern sleek feel to the tasting area. We arrived and the tasting bar was quiet and staff was welcoming and friendly. We were welcome by the hostess with a tasting of their Rosé.

It was nice to be greeted with a drink and then we were introduced to the server who we tasted with. He was knowledgeable of the wines and told us a bit about the history of the brand and wine.

Tasting:

2015 Napa Valley Estate Rosé: Brilliant shades of red and pink combine to present a light and elegant Rosé that is bursting with vibrant young berry flavors. Strawberry, raspberry and watermelon dominate the aromatics, with a background hint of subtle rose petal. Raspberry, strawberry and cranberry laced with an underlying note of blueberry and pomegranate add to the flavorful makeup of this youthful Rosé that finishes bright and full of life.

We did the Estate Tasting ($25) very loosely because of time constraints due to our tour.

2015 Napa Valley Estate Virtu ($30): A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, the 2015 Virtú displays elegant shades of pale yellow and aromas of lemon essence. Lime, quince and lemon rind round out the bouquet with a subtle layer of toasted vanillin oak. Lemon and quince flavors continue throughout the palate with fig, pear and crème brûlée. This is an ornate wine with bright fruit characteristics and an excellent lemon and lime finish.

2014 Napa Valley, Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Chardonnay ($35): Attractive pale yellow hues present in this Chardonnay, while aromas of subtle nectarine and pear entangle with toasted smoky French oak. Flavors of pear, mango, cantaloupe, butterscotch and caramel are met with a creamy texture on the finish from the barrel fermentation and sur lie maturation. This is a round and elegant Chardonnay.

2012 Napa Valley, Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot ($50): Deep shades of reds and purples present in this single vineyard Merlot. Aromas of rich ripe blackberry with subtle notes of currant, anise and charred oak combine with just a hint of graphite. Flavors of black plum and dark mocha, couple with subtle raspberry, espresso and toasted vanillin barrel. This is a wine of fine texture, terrific length and structure.

2013 Napa Valley, Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Malbec ($50): This Malbec showcases deep, vibrant, dark purple and red hues. Aromas of juicy boysenberry and dark plum combine with a hint of vanilla oak and black licorice. Flavors of youthful, focused blueberry, black plum and espresso complete the profile. It is a bright wine with fine-grained tannins, nice structure and a gentle and elegant finish.

 

Visiting & Tasting:

Their tasting bar does not require reservations unless you have more than 10. Otherwise call to make a tasting reservation.

They have a huge variety of tastings and tours!! For example: Veggies + Vino,  Aromatherapy with a Corkscrew, Vineyard to Glass tour etc. They can all be booked online .

 

Sum it up:

1). Great Sauvignon Blanc! Which I rarely love.

2) charming, quite and modern estate

3) Tons of tasting classes and tour options.

Jamieson Ranch Vineyards

I began my day at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards and was woo’ed by the large estate with trees lining the entrance and vines as far as you could see. Most of the grapes have been harvested but it did not take away from the beauty. The winery is not in Napa but considered “the gateway to Napa” located in American Canyon.

Upon arriving the staff brought us quickly to our outside reserved tasting area with couches and heaters. It was a nice ambiance. We were given both a tasting menu that was included in our tour and a menu if we would like to purchase additional glasses/tastings.

Wine we tasted are person blends of the jazz musician Brian Culbertson in conjunction with Reata wines.

We tasted the following:

2015 Reata’s Brian Culbertson Rose of Pinot Noir

2014 Reata’s Brian Cubertson Los Carneros Chardonnay

2013 Reata’s Brian Cubertson Pinot Noir

My Favorites:

2014 REATA “BRIAN CULBERTSON” LOS CARNEROS CHARDONNAY: Deep straw yellow hue, the nose is marked by green apple, walnut, pear, honey and apricot. Flavors are honeysuckle  and apple with crisp nuances of dried pineapple.

I typically don’t love Chardonnay but really enjoyed this one. It was light and crisp and scarily easy to put back.

 

Visiting & Tasting:

Seems all their tastings require a reservation and typically range from $40-50 according to their website. After researching online seemed as though their pairings are either $35 or $45 and white only tasting started at $25 and go up to $5o for their Cab. tasting.

Free tastings for Military! (limited menu/tasting)

30% off glasses and bottles for military as well!

Sum it up:

  1. Avoid the craziness of Napa by heading to American Canyon
  2. Great outdoor seating
  3. Appreciate art & music! They have a awesome mural from apexer