We spent the first two days of our trip visiting the different AVAs in Sonoma. We didn’t even scratch the surface. A few things I learned about Sonoma County: First, it has 17 separate and individual AVAs within it and there are over 400 wineries alone. Most people immediately think “Napa” when they think of California wine but Sonoma actually produces far more wine. Napa is fairly close by – about an hour drive from where we were but Sonoma covers a huge area and has 60,000 acres of vineyards.
We focused on two wine AVAs that were closest to us, the Russian River Valley,which is known for pinot noir and chardonnay (much like Burgundy in France), and Dry Creek, which is warmer and produces mostly red zinfandel and some Italian varietals and blending grapes. Day one we stopped by the Dry Creek General Store and ordered some sandwiches to-go and picked up some chips and waters for a picnic lunch. We then looked over the map and headed to some of the wineries we knew we wanted to try.
Our first stop was Ridge Winery, which was pretty much all red zinfandels with one white thrown in for the tasting. Ridge had incredible views from the back patio so we shared a glass on their patio and had our lunch here while admiring the vineyards and the perfect weather.
After that we moved on to Dry Creek Valley Winery, which had some lovely pours of more red zinfandel but a few more whites, including a very nice sauvignon blanc with peach and citrus tones and some excellent chardonnays that had been aged in concrete eggs for several months rather than straight-up oak aging, which makes for a lighter, less buttery chardonnay that suits my palate better.
We then stopped by a fairly new winery on Dry Creek Road called Comstock Winery and even though they have only been around for one year, we really liked what the winemaker was doing there. Their red zinfandels were peppery and spicy but had a nice smooth finish and weren’t too overpowering on the alcohol (red zins can be pretty racy – pushing close to 16% on alcohol sometimes).
Our final and most exciting stop was at J Vineyards. J Vineyards is a rather large producer so we see their wines all the time back here in Texas. We mostly stopped here because I knew they made some excellent sparkling wines and we wanted to pick some up for New Years Eve. We did a full tasting that included a brut rose bubbly made from pinot noir and their traditional brut sparkling, which I believe was made from chardonnay grapes (but after 4 tastings in one day, I can’t be entirely sure of that). And then we had our celebrity sighting….
While doing the tasting at J, my husband says, “Damn, that guy looks just like Seth Rogen.” If you don’t know the name, he’s a comedy actor that has been in several movies including Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, This is the End, Neighbors, etc… I looked over and said, “That’s because it IS Seth Rogen.” We heard him talking (he has a rather booming voice) and it was definitely Mr. Rogen. Yup, he was there doing a tasting with a group of friends. So, I casually got his photo by making Steve pretend he was taking a selfie with me. Yes, I know, uber-lame but I don’t care.
That really capped off the end of a great day! Our next day we had a food and wine pairing reservation at Seghesio Winery and then we stopped by another one after that…more to share.