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.

Wineries are the gem on Treasure Island

Yesterday on my company offsite we ventured a few miles away to Treasure Island for a wine tasting. I have pasted the exit maybe 100 times and never realized there was a whole wine world on the little island.

We went this little rustic tasting room called Vie Winery. Vie’s limited-production Rhone varietal and zinfindel-based wines grapes come from Santa Barbara, Sonoma, Napa, and Lake County vineyards.

We did a blind tasting of 4 reds their Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The wines were a bit lighter and jammy than one would expect from Cab or Zin however they were tasty. I enjoyed their Zinfandel most. I didn’t do so hot on the blind tasting scoring a whopping 25%, yes I am not proud but it was a good time.

They place is situated just feet away from the water and has outdoor bocce ball courts. We had a friendly bocce competition and it was good size for a large private group.

Check out this post on a few other hidden gems on the island worth visiting.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Up & Coming Wine Region in East Bay

Today I ended up strolling to the far back of Total Wine & More where there was a 5 cent tasting. Of course I gathered 5 cents from the bottom of my purse to have a taste. There were over 10 different types of wines to taste.

There stood local winemakers with their hard work being poured into small tasting cups. My attention was quickly captured seeing that these wines were made less than a few miles from where I live & I had very little clue this was going on.

lamorinda_ava_map2On Feb. 24, 2016 after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau established the 29,369 acres of Lamorinda as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). The new-ish wine region includes Orinda, Lafayette & Moraga (map shown).  The 3 winemakers I met today gave me a warm feeling as they seemed humble and excited to have people tasting their hard work.

 

The two local wineries there were Meadow View Winery & Los Arabis Vineyards.

Meadow View had 4 wines to taste 

  1. Meadow View Super T Lamorinda ($21.99)- French Roast  coffee and ripe cherry on the nose. In the mouth Dutch cocoa with hints of raspberry.
  2. Meadow View Cab Lamorinda Joyce ($21.99) – A violet nose with fruit and earth. In the mouth, earth and minerals blend plums and dark chocolate.
  3. Meadow View Pinot Noir ($21.99) – Dark cherry and hint of licorice in the nose turning into lush ripe strawberries in the glass.
  4. Meadow View Rose Lamorinda ($15.99) – hints of cherry blosson, hibiscus flowers, watermelon.

Los Arabis Vineyards (Ward Family Wine) had 1 wine to taste:

  1. 2013 Pinot Noir ($21.99) – dry and silky, with flavors of cola, nutmeg and mace.

*Prices are without pick 6 price, if you pick 6 you get 10% off.

I ended buying the Dry Rose from Meadow View and the Pinot Noir from Los Arabis both can be purchased at Total Wine & More.

 

I see this wine region as a little gem of the East Bay. As flocks of tourists head to Napa, I will take the road less traveled to Lamorinda AVA. Get the wines in local stores or online at most of their website or simply take a trip down.

Cheers!