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.
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.
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.
This week I have an extreme sweet tooth that inspired me to look for wine infused desserts to visually subdue my sweet cravings. These recipes all include red wine and look and sound absolutely delicious. These bloggers have amazing recipes on their sites so I suggest exploring. Also if you make any of the below desserts send some pictures my way! I’ll report back if I successfully make any. Cheers!
- 1 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
- 1 cup red wine (I used Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks
- Optional: coconut whipped cream
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and chocolate chips. Whisking constantly until chocolate is melted into milk and you have a thick and creamy chocolate milk. Pour in red wine and heat until everything is hot. Pour into 2 mugs or 6-8 smaller glasses and top with coconut whipped cream.
- This drink is RICH. So instead of just serving 2 (as shown in the pictures), I would recommended serving 6-8 in smaller glasses for sipping.
- 1 pint of strawberries
- 1 cup white chocolate
- 1 cup strawberry wine
- 20 plastic pipette tubes
And the best part about these upgraded chocolate-covered strawberries? They’re so super easy, you’ll barely have any extra time to sample the strawberry wine. The first thing you’ll want to do is melt your white chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler, but if you’re lazy like me, you can just chop up the chocolate into a bowl and stick it in the microwave. Heat it in 20 second increments, stirring after each one, until it’s all completely melted. Dip the strawberries in the white chocolate and place them on a cookie sheet, then put them in the fridge to let them set. Depending on how thick you make the chocolate layer, this should take about 15 minutes. While you’re waiting, you can fill the plastic pipette tubes with the strawberry wine – now’s the time to sneak a few samples, if you’re so inclined. Once the chocolate is set, place the wine-filled pipette tubes into each strawberry. Then, enjoy!
By: Jamie Harrington
1 bottle of red wine (I used a Merlot)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half & half
The first step in making our wine ice cream is to reduce the wine down to a syrup-y liquid. Pour your bottle of red wine in to a large pot and simmer over low medium heat until it is reduced to one cup of liquid. This took about an hour for me, but it could be sooner, so you should keep an eye on yours. Once it has been reduced, set aside.
In a medium pot, whisk together the brown sugar, and whipping cream. Cut your vanilla bean in half and scrape out that beautiful vanilla caviar into the pot. Add the bean pod to the pot as well.
Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat until it begins to steam, but before it boils.
Beat your egg yolks with a fork or with a mixer until they are light colored. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the cream and slowly add the cream in to the egg yolks. It is important to add the cream to the eggs very slowly so that they do not curdle.
Once you have successfully added the cream to the eggs, pour the mixture back in to the pot and cook over medium heat until it thickens and turns in to a custard. If it sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, it is done. Remove from it from heat.
Pour the mixture through a strainer and into a large bowl. Stir in the half and half and the reduced wine.
Chill the mixture in the fridge for an hour or two until cold. Add to your ice cream maker (I use this one) and freeze according to directions. (For me this is about 30 minutes). If it is too soft for your liking, stick in the freezer for a few more hours.
by: Jessica Pinney
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup milk.
In a small pot simmer the wine over low/medium heat for 12-18 minutes, allowing it to reduce. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until completely melted. Stir in the milk. Pour into your popsicle tray and freeze over night. (Note: you can use milk instead of wine for regular fudgesicles.)
- 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup red wine (pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon), at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature & halved
- 3/4 cup natural unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder
- Place the semi-sweet chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Microwave in four 15-second increments, stirring after each, for a total of 60 seconds. Stir until almost completely melted (I had to micro mine for a couple more rounds before the chocolate was melty). Set aside.
- Pour heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisking occasionally, heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Gently begin stirring with a wooden spoon in one direction. Do not forcefully stir. Once the chocolate and cream are completely smooth, gently stir in the wine and butter until combined. Cover with plastic wrap pressed on top of the mixture. Let the ganache mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, or until it reaches a soft, scoopable consistency (I ended up putting mine in the freezer for a bit to speed things along).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Pour the cocoa powder into a bowl.
- Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Measure 1 teaspoon, roll between your hands into a ball, roll in the cocoa powder, and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the ganache. For pretty presentation, I roll some truffles more heavily in the cocoa than others. Serve immediately or cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. They are best served cold!
BY: Lori Lange
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.
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.
I ended up getting the Pinot Noir – My husband enjoyed the fruit forward flavor.
Visiting & Tasting:
$15 – includes 4 wines :
- 2013 Estate Chardonnay
- 2013 Estate Pinot Noir
- 2014 Barbera
- 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Sum it up:
- Great reds!
- Extra friendly staff
- Prices are a bit high but boutique small batch wines.
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.
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:
- Will charm the socks off ya.
- Affordable tasting fee and wine prices are reasonable.
- Warm staff that welcomes tasters with open arms.
I was reading today how one could describe a wine almost as they would describe a song. This led me to think further how the wines I drink differ per occasion or mood as does the music I listen to. I have compiled a list of a few genres of music and the wine pairings I believe would be most harmonious.
Indie – Muscadet
A strange, unique and under-rated wine that is favored by most common Indie listeners “hipsters”. Muscadet is not a wine that is talked about frequently but the unusual characteristics will resonate with you after drinking as will most Indie music.
Country –Port wine or fruit wines
Sweet port (almost resembles whiskey as times) pairs perfectly with all the sweetness coming from the south: the food, people and of course country music. I had to add fruit wine because who doesn’t remember the song “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter.
Blues – Cabernet Sauvignon
While listening to the blues I want to drink something with soul! The tastes and aromas of tobacco, dark fruit and vanilla that is embodied in Cab Sav seems to meets in match with the silky voices of many blue artists.
Pop – Sparkling Wine or Champagne
Bubbly wine will pair best with bubbly music. Nothing seems more fitting to drink while your bopping your head and singing into your empty pink sparkling Chandon bottle as you get ready for your night.
Classic Rock– Shiraz or Zinfindel
I don’t know what has more leather the wine or the rockers. Whether it be music or the wine that is rough around the edges, Shiraz and Zin are bold and loud enough to stand up to rock music.
Classical– Bordeaux or Chianti
Nothing gets more classic than these two wines. If Antonio Vivaldi or Louis Vierne could be bottled as a wine – these would be it. These wines are as romantic and enchanting as classical music.
Hip Hop & Rap – Moscato
Honestly this normally wouldn’t be my first thought to pair Moscato with Hip Hop, however recently the sweet, fizzy, afforable wine has made appearances in many rap songs such as Drakes lyric, “It’s a celebration — clap clap bravo. Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato.”& “This right here is my new Lambo/ Yellow on black with the yellow for Deonto/ Pull up with a yellow bone sippin on Moscato …” by Soulja Boy feat. Gucci Mane.
Happy drinking & listening! Cheers!