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.

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.

Romeo Vineyards and Cellars

My husband and I headed up to the sleepy quaint wine town, Calistoga, only a day before the fires broke out. We stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast in town. As we were walking around town I was mesmerized by Romeo Cellars.

They have a rustic gate lead you to Jasmine and Rose adorned arches lead to the 1800’s Carriage House  – Romeo’s tasting room. They had wonderful staff members who were very kind and happy explain or let us try which ever we wanted since we were just buying a glass. The tables outside are shaded by century old Giant Redwoods and Cedars.

Tasting:

Choose from a selection of tastings from $20 for 5 x 1oz pours – the purchase of wine compliments the price of a tasting.

Check out their current wine selection

We just decided on two wines:

2012 Malbec-$45- Blueberry and raspberry notes rise out followed by cedar and vanilla

2014 Reserve Chardonnay- $38- I truly felt like I learned how to taste and smell the buttered popcorn that everyone talks about in Chardonnay. Given that I am a popcorn advocate it was weird enticing. However I can see why people don’t care for it. Although it was buttery it had a refreshing finish which was nice.

To Sum it Up:

  1. Most romantic gardens
  2. Quite expensive wines
  3. Grown and produced in Calistoga

Pierce Ranch Vineyards

I was recently made a trip down to Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey. Whilst in Monterey I was told I need to stop at Pierce since most of my friend know I enjoy good wine. I honestly was surprised I haven’t stumbled upon it on my other trips south and spending quite a bit of time in Monterey.

The place is very centrally located yet almost so covered in vines and tucked back that I wouldn’t have known it was there unless I knew what I was looking for. Like a little hidden gem away from the craziness of downtown. It was empty as I walked in but the women working was very welcoming. She was attentive and immediately ready to start pouring, which is my style.

Pierce Ranch Vineyards focuses on “Iberian varietals more often seen in Spain and Portugal, such as Temparanillo, Touriga and Albariño, as well as wines from rarely-seen-in-the-U.S. grapes such as Tinto Cão and Graciano. While the Iberians may be the main focus, Pierce’s deep bench of excellent wines also includes a few Rhone-style picks and tasty examples of New World wines such as Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.”

They also have local musicians come , so definitely will try to get back a night where this is live music. Check out their Facebook to stay tuned: https://www.facebook.com/pierceranchvineyards/

https://www.seemonterey.com/blog/post/pierce-ranch-vineyards-the-wine-trail/

Tasting:

I was pleasantly surprised at the price of the tasting, only $5 for 5 wines and she was nice enough to pour the Rosé for us to try. Gals can’t get enough Rosé! Noticed on the menu wines range the mid-teens to the mid-twenties in price. FullSizeRender-2

We tried the following wines on the tasting menu: 

2016 Verdelho- White stone fruit  accompanied by notes of citrus and honeysuckle.

2013 Tino Cão- Notes of sour cherry, blueberry, pomegranate, and cranberry are accompanied by elements of earth, spice and florality.

2014 Zinfandel- Notes of berry compote, red cherry, and black plum combine with an herbal element and traces of spice.

2014 Touriga- Rich black currant and black cherry and plum are accompanied by traces of spice and florality.

2013 Petite Sarah- Aromas of blueberry, black currant and plum combined with a savory component and traces of spice.

To Sum It Up:

  1. Quaint space and inviting tasting room and staff
  2. MORE than affordable tastings (loved it)
  3. Unique Portugese grape varietials

Horton Vineyards

After our first tasting we headed to our last stop which was Horton Vineyards. Upon arriving there was this awesome sign (see pic below) that showed the distance to Horton from Napa and Rhone Valley.

Horton has deep Virginia roots and has both California and French influence in its wine.

“Wine lover and entrepreneur Dennis Horton began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983.  It did not take him long to realize that, although the Virginia summers were warm enough to ripen almost any grape variety, the humid conditions favored growing grapes with thicker skins and loose clusters.  There began the search for varieties that would flourish in Virginia’s climate and had the capacity to produce some of the finest wines of the world.

Dennis’ search concentrated on the warm growing regions of southern France, and before planting any additional grapes, Dennis traveled to the Rhone valley in France.  There he was struck by wines he felt had beautiful texture, grace, and finesse.  In his research, one grape in particular seemed to keep coming up as perfect – Viognier.  It was a grape of wonderful potential – it had a thick skin and loose clusters, perfect for the Virginia climate.  And most importantly, it made some of the world’s finest wines – those of the Condrieu and in particular Chateau Grillet.

In California Dennis learned of only a few producers working with and producing Viognier in limited quantities.  However, new plantings were going in all over the state and enthusiasm was high.  So the decision was made to plant Viognier, along with lesser amounts of Marsanne, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and several other grape varieties like the native grape Norton, which enjoyed so much success in the 19th century in nearby Charlottesville.  In the late 1800’s, central Virginia was declared the “Capitol of the Eastern Wine Belt.”  Some of the Norton had survived prohibition in Dennis’ home state of Missouri, and he was intrigued by the idea of reviving this historic grape with its incredibly rich, fruity flavor, soft tannins and inky color.

In 1988, Dennis and longtime business partner Joan Bieda acquired 55 acres for the beginning of Horton Vineyards.  The task of establishing the vineyard was given to Dennis’ wife Sharon, a nurse by trade, whose meticulous nature was reflected in the manicuring of the East Coast’s most unique vineyard.  Utilizing the “open lyre” training system, which promotes ideal ripening, and drip irrigation for ideal soil moisture conditions, the vineyard was established with quality in mind.  In 1991 the first small crop was harvested, and made into wine at Montdomaine Cellars, a noted Cabernet producer.  With his wine aging in the cellars, it was a natural transition for Dennis to take over the management of Montdomaine Cellars, and produce Chardonnay and Cabernet under that label, in addition to his own line of Rhone Varieties.  The 1992 wines were very well received in national competitions and construction was begun on a new underground winery.  Stunning stone underground cellars, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a wonderful vaulted ceiling tasting room are the highlights of this beautiful winery.  1993 saw the first crush at the new Horton Cellars and in 1994 additional acreage came into production with plantings of Bordeaux, Portuguese and Spanish varietals as well as additional varietals of the Rhone Valley.  The national success of these wines has demonstrated that if the right grapes are planted for the climate of Virginia the results can be stunning.  In the future, Horton Vineyards will continue to explore new varietals to discover the best that Virginia viticulture can produce.”

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Tasting:

The tasting bar was super small and crowded but it was a Saturday afternoon on what I believe was their Fall Fest. They only had two people to serve which was hard on the servers given there was loads of people. Also you can choose from any 10 in no order so I am sure each group was doing all different. My friends and I stuck to the same 10 to keep it easy and the wine flowing.

It was a $9 for 10 wines to taste. And you get to choose a tasting glass (stemless, stemmed, dog or cat). I am loving the Virginia prices compared to Napa and Sonoma!

My Favorites:

So I can’t put my finger on what I tasted in some of the Virginia reds but it was a almost cheesy or mushroom taste. I didn’t care for it as much as my Napa Cabernet’s but there were some that stood out to me.

2016 Viognier – $20.00- Exotic honey and tropical fruit aromas jump from the glass. Full bodied, viscous mouthfeel. 95% Viognier, 5% Roussanne

2015 Norton – $18.00- Has a dark, rich color and an intensely fruity aroma of plums and tart cherries. Ageing in oak for 14 months has given this wine a long, flavorful, spicy finish.  93% Norton, 7% Touriga Nacional

Rojo Xoco – Red Wine with Chocolate Essence – $16.00 (500ml bottle)-It’s like licking a Raspberry Tootsie Roll Pop!  88% Touriga Nacional, 8% Syrah, 4% Norton with a very small percentage of dark chocolate essence.

Sum it up:

  1. Super affordable tastings and you get to keep the glass (a very cute one at that)
  2. Interesting wine assortment. First time I got to try Norton (Virginia grape).
  3. Beautiful grounds to roam around and frolic through the vineyard.

 

 

Barboursville Vineyards and Historic Ruins

I went to a wedding a few weeks back in Virginia and on the wedding day a few of us that weren’t apart of the wedding party was able to brake away before and head to a few wineries near the venue. I have been told about Virginia wine country and how amazing it is but really I was blissfully unaware of how many stunning wineries they have.

Our first stop was Barboursville Vineyards. This winery has some serious ties to history. In fact some presidential ties!

The wine producing estate was founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, an Italian winemaker from the Veneto. Part of an affiliated group of wineries owned by Zonin based in Vicenza, Barboursville Vineyards is its only American venture.

The winery is built on the grounds of Barboursville, the home of the 19th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, James Barbour, on an estate of 870 acres (350 ha) which is divided between Albemarle County and Orange County. The home was built from 1814 through 1822 and is based on an architectural design provided by Barbour’s political ally and friend, Thomas Jefferson, since 1969 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It draws approximately 80,000 visitors a year.

The estate is the first producer in the new era of Virginian wine history to plant Vitis vinifera since the failed attempts of Jefferson, initially through former vineyard manager Gabriele Rausse. Winery manager Luca Paschina first arrived as a consultant in 1990, now estimated among Virginia’s leading winemakers, has a stated goal to work to achieve quality consistently over several vintages.

Considered one of the leading wineries in Virginia, Barboursville Vineyards wine was selected to be served to the Queen Elizabeth II on her 2007 visit to Virginia.

Visiting:

The tasting room is open for walk-ins:

Monday – Saturday

10:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday
11:00am – 5:00pm

I did the standard tasting which was $7 for 21 tastings….THIS IS NOT A JOKE. 

There are quite a few tours and tasting options worth taking a gander before you go.

My favorites:

I am not going to go through all 21 wines but the highlights were the following:

CHARDONNAY RESERVE (2016) -$18.99- The wine is exploding with rich and complex flavors of pear, apple, and vanilla, a lavishly texured palate.

BRUT ROSÉ CUVÉE 1814– $24.99- 100% Pinot, dry (but not quite brut), nice flavor profile of lighter stonefruit and floral (along the lines of lavender / violets).

Cabernet Franc Reserve 2015 -$24.99- Dark garnet core, brilliant clarity in the glass. Intense, effusively luscious flavors of ripe red berries with caramelised notes of fig, cherry, and plum, elegantly woven together in barrel. Long-finishing and tannically vivid, yet with a remarkably soft palate.

IMG_5967 (Free tasting glass with the tasting, having too much fun a broke mine, oops!)

To sum it up:

  1. High yielding winery with cheap tasting options
  2. Options to suite every palate
  3. Strong historical ties