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Gary Farrell Winery: The Wow Factor!

October 29, 2009 3 comments

Wow!  What an experience!  Prior to our visit, I had heard that the tasting room at Gary Farrell Winery offers one of the best views overlooking the Russian River Valley and it did live up to its reputation.  The winding drive up to the winery set the tone as my wife and I kept commenting on the beauty that surrounded us as we made the drive up to the top of the hill to the winery.  Our 10 am appointment gave us 30 minutes before the winery opened to the general public allowing us to have the place relatively to ourselves for a brief time  — an advantage to making an appointment in advance.   As we like the slower pace we opted for the tour, tasting and cheese pairing and I urge you to do the same as it makes for a fantastic experience.

Gary Farrell: View off patio deck

Gary Farrell: View over-looking the Russian River Valley

Scott Monroe took care of us beginning the tour with the stunning view you see above.  This overlook of the Russian River Valley is fantastic and this photo does not even come close to capturing the beauty.  Scott described the wine making process beginning with the important long-term relationships the winery has with various vineyards for its supply of quality grapes — with only one exception, the fruit originates from Sonoma County — most of it coming from the Russian River Valley.  One particular relationship that caught my attention is the one with Rochioli Vineyard as this vineyard is known to produce exceptional fruit year in and year out — supplying both  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Scott detailed the process and concluded the tour talking about Susan Reed who spent 3 years working with Gary Farrell and then in August 2006 took over the reigns as winemaker at the winery.

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Winery Tour: Scott Monroe explains the wine-making process

The wine tasting and cheese pairing experience was both relaxing and enjoyable and the view — have I mentioned the view?  The view from the tasting room really is breathtaking, so much so I forget to take a photo for you to enjoy.  The relaxed atmosphere made the experience one both my wife and I will always remember.  We tasted Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, a Proprietary red blend and Zinfandel.  Of the 9 wines we tasted, I noted 4 as being very enjoyable including the 2007 Bradford Mountain (Dry Creek Valley)  Zinfandel.

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Wine and Cheese tasting setup

We joined the Gary Farrell Grand Crew Club as we were so impressed with the wines we tasted.  We just recently took our first delivery which consisted of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and once I open them, I will share the tasting experience in a future write-up.

On a side note, when you visit the Gary Farrell Winery you are a short drive (about 10 minutes) away from the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant, a Michelin rated one-star restaurant that is just fantastic — my suggestion is go there for dinner if you can.  The link will take you to my earlier post about our experience there — a truly memorable dining pleasure.  I only mention this as the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant is in my top 2 favorite restaurants in the Sonoma / Napa area.

The tour, tasting and cheese pairing is at a cost of $25 — do it!  You will enjoy it!  You can opt for tastings only with a tasting fee of $10 and $15 depending on the wine flight you choose.

Recommendation:  Make time to visit the Gary Farrell winery as you will enjoy both the outstanding wines and the exceptional view overlooking the Russian River Valley.

Gary Farrell Wines; 10701 Westside Road; Healdsburg, CA 95448

 

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Whetstone Wine Cellars: Visit to Phoenix Ranch

October 23, 2009 2 comments

Throughout my experiences in enjoying wines, Sommeliers have in many instances suggested wines that I otherwise would have never tried or experienced.  Such was the case at dinner at John Ash & Company whereby the Sommelier suggested trying a wine from Whetstone Wine Cellars.  He told us of Jamey Whetstone’s beginnings in the wine industry and his development as a “Rock Star” in the wine industry and the quality wines he crafts.  Jamey began at Turley Wine Cellars in the summer of 1998 and the evolution for him continues as he is the founder of the Whetstone Wine Cellars label, is co-founder of Manifesto! Wines and is a consulting winemaker for JT Wines.  That initial taste made me a believer in Whetstone’s quality and I have enjoyed Whetstone wines ever since.  A particular favorite wine of mine is the Phoenix Ranch Syrah and Jamey and Michelle Whetstone were gracious enough to invite us to a private picnic lunch at Phoenix Ranch.  Located in the southern part of Napa Valley, Phoenix Ranch experiences the perfect climate for the quality Syrah fruit this vineyard consistently produces.

Phoenix Ranch (Napa)

Phoenix Ranch (Napa)

Michelle had set up a spread of sandwiches and Whetstone wines for us to enjoy and as we did so we enjoyed the beautiful view of the scenic Phoenix Ranch Vineyard — what a memorable experience in such a beautiful setting.  I had only tasted the Whetstone Pinot Noir and Syrah and noticed that Michelle had included the Russian River Viognier for us to try.  My wife and I had previously made the mistake of limiting ourselves to the reds and the Viognier made us aware of the quality whites Whetstone also produces.    It was a pleasure spending time with both Jamey and Michelle  — they both demonstrated their passion reflected in the wines they represent.

Michelle & Jamey Whetstone

Michelle & Jamey Whetstone

If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying Whetstone Wines I highly suggest you take an opportunity and do so — you will be impressed.

Whetstone Wine Tasting Room — follow the link for information.  It is a fun experience!

La Follette Winery (Tandem Winery) : 2007 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

August 30, 2009 2 comments

Great wine and food are synonymous with the Sonoma and Napa California areas.  In July 2008, when on a trip to Sonoma my wife and I had the pleasure of dining at The General’s Daughter restaurant (now known as “Estate”) and it is there that I tasted a Tandem wine for the first time.  The more I learn about Tandem Wines, the more I am impressed by what the winemaker, Greg La Follette crafts.

Tandem 2007 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

Tandem 2007 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (193 cases produced)

Last night we enjoyed the 2007 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (Mendocino Coast) as I could wait no longer to try it.  I bought this bottle in February 2009 and I did good to hold it these 6 months!  Dark Ruby red in color with raspberries and cranberry along with rhubarb on the nose.  Well balanced with the continuation of the berry fruit flavors with a soft finish ending with a subtle earthiness that is enjoyable.  Paired very well with the Kerrygold “Dubliner” cheese as the cheese has a nuttyness and a bit of a sweetness to it.   I love cheese and good cheese with such a nice wine, well it just creates another great memory.  The 2007 Manchester Ridge is a Pinot that I will serve again and I do suggest you try it should you have the opportunity to do so.  Fortunately, I had the insight to buy 2 bottles in February so I still have another bottle to enjoy at some other time  — lets see how long I can wait this time!

Until next time …

Cheers!