Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sonoma 2007 Wrap Up

We left Santa Rosa early on a foggy morning to catch our flights back east. For my last Sonoma post I thought I'd just summarize my final thoughts on a tremendous trip, with the benefit of a few nights to mull the event.


Without a doubt, the highlights were:

1) A tour and tasting at Luna Vineyards with winemaker Mike Drash. The wines were excellent, and we loved having your ear for a few hours. Good luck with this year's harvest, Mike.
2) Dinner at Barndiva with Sam and Scot of Marietta Cellars - thanks for the tips, and I look forward to tasting the Emilia's Cuvee

3) Bella Vineyards, purveyors of fine Ancient Vines Zin at a very modest price for the quality. Entering the tasting room on a rainy day, The Smiths playing in the background (nice touch)...I could have stayed there all day.

4) Tasting at Verite. Verite is French for truth, but I prefer the word perfection. I dare Miles to drink this and say "No f-ing merlot!". Thanks, Leanne.


1) EDK - the service was awful and my wallet was swiped. But the food was sooo great....

2) Santa Rosa - Charles Schultz is from Santa Rosa, but I was on a wine quest not a Snoopy quest. Stay in Healdsburg next time - sorry, Sonadora, I should've listened to you.

3) Martinelli - I've heard of a short pour, but that was ridiculous!

What I bought?

I acquired six bottles of the Bella (2 Lily Hill Zin, 2 Big River Ranch Zin, 2 Lily Hill Syrah), 1 Landmark Pinot, 1 Marietta Emilia's Cuvee, 2 bottles of '02 Verite (Le Desir, La Joie), 2 bottles of Hartford Pinot, and 1 bottle of the Luna Canto. These will be returned to Canada in twos over the coming year.

To Visit Next Time

I definintely think you need to base yourself out of Healdsburg. We originally thought Santa Rosa was central, but it involves driving or expensive cab rides to get to the key restaurants. Stay in Healdsburg and you can probably walk to dinner every night, try something new, and is definitely the best situated for the key vineyards. Many have tasting rooms in town, as do the wine shops.

Wineries? I regret missing Trentadue, and I wish I had been more organized and called ahead for appointments at some others...

Many thanks to...

Sonadora for Sonoma travel tips.

Mike Drash for his time, fresh cab berries and beautiful wine.

Edward for drinking a few Sonoma selections "in support" of my trip (any excuse, eh Edward?)

Andrew for steering us to Harford - too bad I forgot about your Zin recommendation, but I loved their Pinot!


David suggested Bistro Ralph, but time constraints forced a Burrito truck substitution (At Lytton Springs Road/Healdsburg Ave, next to the Hwy 101, go for the truck on the left - he said he was better than the guy on the right. I don't know if that's true, but his shredded pork burrito was totally awesome). Barry suggested Kosta Browne and Mark West, but they are not open to the public. Farley suggested Siduri and Acorn, but we're guys - we're not organized enough to call ahead!

Cheers! Back to my daily tastings...sigh.


RougeAndBlanc said...

Glad you had a good time (mostly) there and thanks for the journal. I have never tried a Hartford Pinot, now I am curious.
BTW: Emilia's Cuvee is now on my shopping list.

Edward said...


I have really enjoyed your travel log, so drinking some wines from the region was the least I could do!

Joe said...

Hi Andrew. The Marietta boys recommended that, a blend of montepulciano and negroamaro - very cool, I can't wait.

Hi Edward. Thanks, maybe next time it will be Margaret River...

David McDuff said...

Thanks for the thought. Sorry you weren't able to make it to Ralph's. And don't sweat the small pour at Martinelli; a larger pour would have only made the wine's over-the-top nature more obvious (their wines make the Planeta your pal wrote up seem low-alcohol).

Fadi said...

Hi Joe,
It looks like your trip was tons of fun. I just have a question concerning bringing more than 2 bottles of wine into Canada. Is it simply that we'd need to pay taxes at the Custom according to the wine's value (receipts required?). Does that entitle a significant delay at the customs? I am leaving next Sat. to San Diego for a Scientific conference (I hope the fires are down by then) and would like to bring some wine with me back to Montreal.
Another quick question is that I am looking for 2 bottles of vintage 2003 and 1 of vintage 2000 that could cellar for 20+ yrs (up to ~ 100$/bottle is acceptable) Do you've any recommendations that are currently available. I've got a Lynch Bages 03 already and need 2 more 03. I've got 2 daughters born on 2000 & 2003 and want to keep for each 3 bottles of yrs 2000 & 2003. For the 2000, I got already the Carruades de Lafite and Dominus (Christian Moueix napa valley Californie), and missing one. There seem to be 1 bottle of Poggio Antico Riserva brunello -di-montalcino 2000 left at SAQ which I am contemplating of buying, as I read that Brunellos have long lives!! What do you think?
Thanks & cheers,

Marcus said...

You sigh so sadly at the end of this post. Oh those daily tastings.

I'm glad your expectations for Niagara Cabernet have been lowered!

Joe said...

Hi David - Ouch! I was kinda wondering about the fuss. Last year in Napa and this year in Sonoma, whenever I ask locals where to go it always seems to be an over-the-top place. Martinelli was highly recommended.
Fadi - if you try to bring more than two you will pay nearly 100% tax on the RETAIL PRICE. Very painful, trust me. The delay is not too bad, and they are very friendly when they steal your money, but it is financial suicide. If you bring three, maybe four you might take a chance that they wave you through, but it would really suck waiting in line to pay for one bottle! You must be going to BIOCOM? You ask a difficult question - a few comments on that: (1) I bought Magnums for my kids, they last longer if you plan on waiting 18 years to open. (2) Brunellos should go the distance. Why don't you send me an email for some suggestions?
Marcus - yes, it was a big sigh...I really need to visit Niagara one of these days.

Randy said...

Just wanted to let you know that we talked about your Sonoma trip on the radio this week at our podcast (toward the end, anyway).

During the show, Kaz asked about where you're from, but I can see (from actually taking time to look) that you're from the Montreal area. Kaz was also curious about your background with wine.

Out of curiosity, why did you pick Sonoma? Oh and BTW, I agree somewhat that you don't want to stay in SR for lodging, but I also think that by staying in Healdsburg, you miss out on a lot of good wineries in the southern end of the county (i.e. Carneros and Sonoma Valley). Of course, the fact that both Kaz and I live in the Valley of the Moon probably biases our viewpoint, but there you have it.

Anyhow, great posts about Sonoma, and sorry about the EDK experience.

Sonadora said...

Glad you had a good trip....lots more to see next time. If you want to focus on DCV and RRV I still definitely suggest a Healdsburg base!

Joe said...

Hi Randy. Wine Enthusiast is my background, nothing more. I chose Sonoma because it (SFO) is a direct flight from Montreal, only 3 time zones different, and I did Napa last year. I am trying to knock off key wine areas one by one. I will probably do Mendocino or Santa Barbara next year. Europe is too difficult to do on a weekend, and it is impossible to ditch the wife and kids for a weeklong European Vacation. I actually looked at both Sonoma and Healdsburg, but I couldn't decide which one to do (hence SR - the middle). I meant to spend more time in the south, but I had such a great tour of Luna that it cut into my Sonoma time on day 1! Thanks for your comments - I left some additional comments on your site. Feel free to email, Cheers!

Joe said...

Hi Sonadora. Driving around the valley is not a big deal, but I hate driving for dinner. Healdsburg seems to have a nice layout for the evening, but Sonoma would also work. At the very least, I now know what I want to do next time. Can't wait to go back!

farley said...

Sorry you couldn't hit all the good spots, but it sounds like a great trip overall.

Cheers to more wine adventures for us all.

Joe said...

Hi Farley - I had such a good trip I am goin' back someday, and I promise to hit those suggestions - Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like all in all a great trip. I am going to have to check out Verite now! And the Venison at John Ash sounds amazing.
When you open the Emilia's Cuvee, let me know what you think if you get a chance... sambilbro@yahoo.com
Also, in about 18 months now I will hopefully be releasing my first wines. If you don't mind, I thought I'd keep you posted and let you know when they're out.
Take care.

Joe said...

Hi Sam - I can't wait to try your first releases. Verite is very expensive, but special, and a perfect match for the venison. I loved John Ash - very classy. Just sent you an email, cheers!