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.

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.

 

 

Totality Awesome Wines to Celebrate the Solar Eclipse

Everyone is gearing up for tomorrows Solar Eclipse. You still have time to run to either Total Wine & More, Trader Joe’s or Bevmo to nerd out and get wine that is out of this world to celebrate. I mean this doesn’t happen often and the next solar eclipse that goes coast to coast isn’t until 2045!!! So a celebration is in order indeed! Many people I know are taking off work for this maybe once or twice in a lifetime experience. My brother is driving down to Nashville and my colleague drove up to Portland. In California we are only going to see a partial eclipse but I think its still pretty neat. People take this seriously and should take their lunar themed wine seriously as well. These wines, beer and spirits will make you feel like a true astronomer:

 

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Valley of the Moon Cabernet- $20

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Moon X Black Pinot Noir – $6.99

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Trade Joe’s has a whole line of moon branded wines – I recommend the Velvet Moon & Honey Moon!

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio – $14

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio (750 ML)

Midnight Moon Blackberry- $19.49

Midnight Moon Blackberry 750ml (750 ML)

Sol Cerveza-$7.49

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Cheers & Happy Solar Eclipse!!!! 

Paraduxx

 

Paraduxx was the first stop in our Napa outing this past weekend. I arrived with 8 of my friends who also thoroughly enjoy wine and were new to Paraduxx. We had a reservation which was needed due to the high influx of visitors around 12 pm. 1 hour into the tasting it was a full house.

For those who may be unaware of Paraduxx, may know or have drank its sister wines, such as Duckhorn, Decoy, Goldeneye, Migration and Canvasback. Paraduxx is part of  Duckhorn Wine Company which has wineries across Napa, Sonoma, Russian River Valley and Mendocino County. The wines of Paraduxx come from several vineyards in the valley which delivers a unique taste for each.

The staff was awesome, Jeffery was our server who was more than welcoming and knowledgeable. He seemed passionate about finding wines that suit the individuals taste buds. Overall great visit at Paraduxx, makes me excited to visit all the wineries of Duckhorn Wine Company.

My Favorites:

2013 Paraduxx Napa Valley Red Wine Rector Creek Vineyard – Block 5 ($80 a bottle) 

Composition 50% Cabernet Franc, 47% Zinfandel, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon Aging & Oak 18 months in oak 95% French oak, 5% American oak 60% New oak, 40% Second Vintage
Winemaker Notes
Aromas of herbes de Provence, Bing cherry and strawberry pie. On the palate, a hint of Cabernet Sauvignon adds to the lovely structure of this wine, while good acidity brings firmness and focus to flavors of raspberry jam, dried berries and holiday spice.

 

Tasting:

IMG_4077.JPGENHANCED TABLESIDE WINE TASTING – BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

$35 a person

1 welcome wine and 4 tastings in the red selection. All wines in the tasting were $50 and above.

All club members receive complimentary wine tasting experiences for up to four adults.

 

Sum it up:

  • High dollar but worth price! Exceptional reds, so smooth!
  • Dog friendly, great indoor and outdoor space!
  • Warm & knowledgeable staff, welcomed with a complementary Rose tasting as soon as we entered.

GOT wines for Season 7?

I don’t think there was a person I spoke with this past week that didn’t mention something about how excited they are for the new season of Game of Thrones (GOT). Everyone I know will be tuning in to watch on HBO at 9 pm tonight. If you don’t have HBO, better subscribe (we just did today).

Whether you are hosting a view party, going to one or just simply watching it alone, you will need something to drink to ease the season 7 jitters. I have compiled a list of wines you should drink according to your favorite Great House of Westeros:

GOT Wines

House Targaryen: 

Girl & Dragon

Dragon’s Tooth

Snap Dragon 

House Stark:

Kenwood Jack London 

Wolf’s Head

House Baratheon:

Stag’s Leap 

House Tyrell:

Tyrrell’s Wines

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label

Tarima Hill

House Lannister:

Chasing Lions

Panilonco Merlot Malbec Reserva

Lion Red Beer

House GreyJoy:

Eight Arms Cellars

Kraken Spiced Rum

Black Ink Red Wine

House Tully:

Trout Slayer 

Flying Fish

House of Mormont: 

Toasted Head

Haraszthy Family Cellars

House of Arryn: 

Screaming Eagle Cabernet

House of Martell:

Mirassou Wines 

House of Frey:

Castle Rock Wine

House of Baelish:

Crow Canyon

Dancing Crow Vineyards

Or you could decide to get the Game of Thrones wine that winemaker Bob Cabral has beautifully crafted.

Enjoy the show tonight everyone!

‘WHEN YOU PLAY THE GAME OF THRONES, YOU WINE OR YOU DIE.’