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.

Black Stallion Winery

I headed to Black Stallion Winery near closing time on Saturday to have one last tasting before heading home.The grounds are very beautiful and located on the grounds of a historic equestrian center. Definitely impressive views!

Upon entering the tasting room it was clear that it was popular because of the packed tasting bar and outdoor area. Because we showed up at 4:15 or so and they close at 5:00 pm we were not able to sit outside. We luckily found a table to sit but we had to go up to the bar for a tasting.

We decided to try the “All Red Tasting” which included:

2012 Los Carneros Pinot Noir

2011 Napa Valley Merlot

2012 Napa Valley Syrah

2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Gold Medal

I was a bit annoyed because there was many kids running around the winery and bartenders were so busy there weren’t able to really explain the characteristics. However, it could have been the time of day and because it was a Saturday.

My favorites:

2012 Napa Valley Syrah: Engaging aromas of blueberry, blackberry, and sweet baking spice complement the flavors of ripe berry fruit, vanilla and dark chocolate. Pair the Syrah with barbequed pork spare ribs with plum sauce, lamb shanks or grilled sausage.

Visiting & Tasting:

General tastings don’t require reservations however be aware it gets very busy.

There is a nice outdoor area to taste, I recommend that if possible. It gets very loud and the bar inside is very crowded.

Tastings are $15-40.


Sum it up:

  1. Beautiful grounds with perfect photo ops.
  2. Large variety of wine- reds & whites
  3. Free tastings for Military!

Coping with wine overload 

I often find myself in a grocery store feeling flustered with the amount of wine choices. Many times I have left or just went with what I am used to simply because it felt like choosing something else is too daunting. By the end of choosing a new wine I felt as though I should grab another bottle simply because the stress from choosing a wine has driven me to drink more.

I have found it necessary to take a step back, breathe and follow these steps when choosing wine.

  1. Are you eating with the wine or are you just leisurely drinking? If you are eating that changes the game a bit, you want to think of what type of food you are eating. If it’s red meat get a bold tannic red (cab or chanti) if it is a light meat get a Pinot Noir or if it’s heavy fish go with chardonnay or a light fish try sparkling. I could go on a bit more but listen you gotta keep it simple (don’t over think it). Check out Wine Folly to get a quick reference of pairing.
  2. Just leisurely drinking, think about what you like or are in the mood for. That simple! Do you like white’s or red’s, sweet or dry. That will quickly narrow down the selection.
  3. Price matters! Let’s be franc. It’s just like a liquor store they put the higher price wines eye level and above and then the lower below the waist so you have to lay on the ground to read prices. Are you drinking alone then maybe check out the lower cost wines or if you are trying to impress go mid-high self. Totally your call!
  4. Try something new or somewhere new! Don’t just head to where you are comfortable in the aisle. Try something based off the tops steps and maybe if you always go for Cabernet from California switch up the region and try a Malbec from Argentina. It’s like traveling to a new place and learning a little of their culture when trying a wine from a different country.
  5. If all else fails download an app! The Wine Spectator app which has a comprehensive database of wine ratings organized by price points and varietals

Feel free to comment if you have any other helpful suggestions!!

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

Robert Mondavi Winery

After lunch in Yountville at R + D Kitchen my friend and I were looking to stop at one more winery close by. Robert Mondavi was a brand she recognized and drank often. Driving up to the winery was very grandiose. The winery has these larger-than-life statues from artist Beniamino Bufano. Let’s say there was a lot going on. It was strange the very modern art yet old Spanish style architecture however it does make an impact.

We were greeted by a man asking if we were looking to take a tour or do a tasting, we were open to either. We hopped on the next “Discovery and Tasting Tour” where you get a quick 30 minute tour of the ground while tasting two wines for $20.

The tour was quick, sweet and to the point, however I didn’t care for tour guide as she was quite snappy with the visitors. The wines were okay, I wasn’t overly excited but I only had the two lowest tiered wines. I would try the exclusive wines and I do want to try the 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Maestro Red Blend Napa Valley.

2 wines from tour:

2014 ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY FUMÉ BLANC NAPA VALLEYPair with roasted trout with potatoes and thyme or grilled vegetable pasta. Zesty lemon, lime and orange citrus, fragrant peach, and fresh minerality.

Dark fruits of black cherry, plum and blackberry are layered seamlessly with sweet spice, herbal, dark earth and a touch of sweet tobacco, with silky tannins and long finish.

Visiting & Tasting:

Walk-in Tastings:

No reservation required.

Priced from $5 to $30 depending on your choice of wines.

Wine Tasting Basics: 

Learn how to read wine labels, why we swirl wine in the glass, and how to smell, taste, and describe wine. Reservations required.

$20 per person | 45 minutes

 Sum it up:

  1. Eye catching art/architecture
  2. Cheap tours
  3. Get exclusive wines (Flume Blanc can be bought anywhere)

*yes I am drinking water it was 100 degrees that day!

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