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Posts Tagged ‘Dry Creek Valley’

Quivira Winery: Visiting a Sister (Winery)

November 13, 2009 1 comment

As my wife and I are Tandem Wine Club Members  La Follette Club Members — and as Quivira Winery and Tandem La Follettee are related (“sister wineries”) — we decided to swing by Quivira Winery after our visit to Michel-Schlumberger — an easy five-minute drive away.  As some background, my wife and I were introduced to Tandem Wines in July 2008 at a restaurant known then as The General’s Daughter located in Sonoma — the restaurant has since been sold and reopened under the new name “Estate” and is now more of an Italian restaurant.   Getting back to my short story, the sommelier recommended that we try Tandem’s 2005 Peloton as she told us, “the interesting thing about Peloton is the blend changes each year yet it consistently is a good tasting quality wine” — I totally agree.  I have found that I have enjoyed the blend from 2003 through 2005 with the 2005 Peloton being my favorite.  The photo below is Tandem’s 2007 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir which is a wine I wrote about earlier and illustrates Tandem’s label should you be unfamiliar their wine.

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Tandem: 2007 Pinot Noir (Manchester Ridge Vineyard)

I assume you are wondering how the visit to Quivira Winery is relevant to a Tandem Wine club member.  In January 2009 Greg La Follette (Tandem) agreed to take on a new majority partner, Wine Creek, founded and owned by Pete Kight.  Pete Kight is also the owner of Quivira Winery thus establishing the relationship between the two.  Jennifer Rolander, Direct Sales Manager for both Quivira and Tandem, was so kind as to arrange a quick last-minute tasting for my wife and I.  In our haste I forgot to take any photos, however the Quivira wines we tasted were delightful and the staff in the tasting room were great.  Jennifer poured a variety of wines for us, including the highly rated 2006 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) along with the 2007 Grenache  (Dry Creek Valley) and a Sauvignon Blanc — we enjoyed all of the wines.    On our visit, we were fortunate enough to meet Pete Kight and he did reaffirm that Greg La Follette, who heads up Tandem’s wine-making and viticulture, is now able to focus on his passion:  crafting fantastic wines without having to worry about all the business trappings.

This was a quick visit but I am glad we took the time to introduced ourselves to Quivira wines.  The winery is in beautiful Dry Creek Valley and should be visited if you are in the area.

I have to further acknowledge the outstanding customer service as provided by Jennifer Rolander.  Not only did she arrange her schedule to accommodate our visit she has since worked with me to reduce the shipping costs I incur by consolidating wine club shipments.  This may not seem to be a big deal but the cost savings to me will be significant — such that I can spend the money on what I enjoy — wine!  Most wineries I have spoken to have not been willing to even entertain the idea.  Cheers to delicious wine and great customer service!   These days, extra efforts towards customers is that special touch that sets a winery apart from the herd and Quivira / Tandem does an outstanding job due to Jennifer’s special touch.  Should you desire to follow Quivira on twitter they are @Quivirawinery.

Recommendation:  If you are in the Healdsburg area you should visit Quivira winery as they craft quality wines you will enjoy.  Make sure you make an appointment if you would like to take the tour and, as always, I suggest you take the tour if you have the time.  No appointment is necessary for the tasting room with a $5 tasting fee that is waived if you buy a bottle.

 Quivira Vineyards and Winery:  4900 West Dry Creek Road; Healdsburg, CA 95448

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Michel-Schlumberger Winery: Gem in Dry Creek Valley

October 31, 2009 2 comments

From the Gary Farrell Winery we had some time before our next appointment so we drove into Healdsburg, had lunch at El Farolito (Mexican food) and then walked across the street for ice cream at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe.  Healdsburg itself is fantastic as there are plenty of great restaurants, fantastic shopping, wine tasting opportunities and of course, one of my favorites — yummy desserts.

After lunch we drove to Michel-Schlumberger Winery, located in Dry Creek Valley, for our 2 pm appointment for our “Estate Tour and Tasting”.   A “Wine and Cheese Pairing” is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday (we visited on a Tuesday so this was unavailable).  In addition, a “Vertical Tasting of Reserve Cabernet” is also an option — looking back I wished we had gone with the vertical tasting as it would have been interesting to taste the differences in the 1998, 2000 and the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon side-by-side.

Twitter Info:  Michel-Schlumberger has an active presence on twitter so if you are into that you can follow them at @M_Schlumberger along with Jim Morris who is the Director of Retail and Direct to Consumer operations for the winery and is known as @Sonomawineguy.

We began the tour walking a short distance up the hill — the view from that vantage point is quite impressive.  As you look around, you see vines on the sloped hill, the picturesque lake and the vine-covered valley below — a truly beautiful setting.  The 30 minute tour continued stepping through the entire process from the vineyard to the bottle and then ultimately, to the tasting.

Michel-Schlumberger Lake View

Michel-Schlumberger: Lake View

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Tour was informative in a beautiful setting

Our tasting experience allowed us to enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc in the beautiful mission styled main building.  As we walked in, it was if we were special guests entering a friend’s home  — you could see the painstaking efforts made to ensure that we felt like honored guests.  Nice touch indeed! Enjoyed the winery, however the wines were not to my liking — not all wines are for everyone.

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Beautiful room setup for our tasting

Recommendation:  Make efforts to visit the winery — the view plus the enjoyable wine makes it worth the effort. Michel-Schlumberger:  4155 Wine Creek Road; Healdsburg, CA 95448

Ferrari-Carano Winery: A “Special dessert”

September 30, 2009 1 comment

Ferrari-Canano Vineyards and Winery (located in Dry Creek Valley). My wife and I had talked about going to the Sonoma County / Napa Valley California wine country for quite some time but we just never made the time to do so.  It took a fund-raiser Gala event to turn that tide as one of the items was a private tour, tasting and lunch at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, CA.  The item came up for bid and I thought, time to just do this.  We won the bid and I thought it would be great for our 25th anniversary celebration and it was even better than we could have imagined. I have written about the other wineries visited in previous posts as this is the last winery we visited during our July 2008 trip — we wanted to save this special experience for last — kind of like a special “dessert”.

Our first view of the winery:  outstanding

Our first view of the winery: outstanding

Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery will treat you to fine wines and will overwhelm your senses with beauty throughout the entire winery.  You will be overwhelmed with the beautiful gardens, the tasting room, the wine cellar and the views and how the design of the winery compliments the beauty you will see all around you.

Upon arrival, Patrick Mukaida (Director of Hospitality) greeted us and took us on a private tour, where we met Sara Quider (white wine winemaker), followed by a private tasting and lunch which all combined to be perfect to help us celebrate our 25th anniversary.

The view is simply amazing

The view is simply amazing

Patrick Mukaida takes on the tour of the vineyard

Patrick Mukaida takes us on a tour of the vineyard

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Downstairs: "Enoteca Lounge"

We walked through the cellar and the great smell of wine, it is just something that I will always remember and hope to experience again and again.  The cellar itself is beautiful as is the downstairs limited release and reserve wine tasting room (the “Enoteca Lounge”).  Shortly after tasting a few of the select wines we moved on to the private lunch at “Villa Fiore” as provided by Chef Joseph Costanzo.  The entire experience was just amazing and gave us the chance to experience wine and food pairings that were outstanding.  Chef Costanzo gave us many hints and did a great job in teaching us how he paired wines to compliment the food served.

We started out with a Chilled Avocado Soup with a Tomato, Shallot and Mango Crab Salad paired with the 2005 Tre Terre Chardonnay.  Next, we had a Pan-Seared Herbes de Provence Marinated Lamb Loin topped with Goat Cheese paired with the 2006 SIENA.  The Siena is mostly made up of Sangiovese (about 75%) blended with about 25% Malbec and the pairing was perfect.  Next we had Blackberry Sorbet paired with the 2006 Eldorado Noir.  The Eldorado Noir is made from 100% Malbec and is styled as a “late harvest” wine.  I had never thought of such a combination and was amazed at how outstanding it was.  Just as a note of information, Ferrari-Carano’s web site has a wine and food pairing guide along with all kinds of fun recipes which you may find useful.

After lunch, we walked outside to enjoy the gardens and said goodbye to our host Patrick.  Ferrari-Carano was the last winery visited on our trip in July 2008 and absolutely was fantastic.  The sights, the wines and the friendliness of the staff left an impression that will last forever.

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View from "Villa Fiore"

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Garden View

Garden View

Recommendation:  A must visit winery! If you are going to be in the Healdsburg area, the wines and the views will be worth the effort to visit.

You will need an appointment to take the winery tour which I highly recommend.

Tasting Fee; $5 (No appointment necessary) — fee refunded with purchase of $25 or more

Location:  Ferrari-Carano; 8761 Dry Creek Road; Healdsburg, CA 95448

Follow on Twitter:  @ferraricarano


Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves is located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley and the drive along West Dry Creek road offers beautiful views of various vineyards along with plenty of opportunities to visit numerous wineries, so many it becomes overwhelming.  We decided to go to Bella as we had tried a bottle of their Zinfandel — which we enjoyed  —  and thought it would be a great idea to experience the “caves” and enjoy the other wines Bella had to offer.  As we turned into the entrance to Bella we knew this would be a memorable visit as the entrance to the wine cave was right below one of their vineyards (Lily Hill) — visually it is very impressive.  Being the geeky person I am, I had to ask about the cave details and we were told the cave took 1 1/2 years to complete as excavation began in June 2002 and was completed in December 2003.  The cave has about 5200 square feet of barrel storage space and another 1500 feet used in entertaining guests (tasting area, music room and dining room).

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View towards Lily Hill Vineyard and Wine Cave

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Entrance to Wine Cave and tasting room

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Wine Cave entrance: View towards tasting area

The cave and tasting room is located tucked just beneath the Lily Hill Vineyard which produces great old vine Zinfandels (over 85 year old vines).

As we visited mid-week, the Cave Tour was not available but we did enjoy great wine tastings.  We tasted the 2005 Big River Ranch Zinfandel, the 2006 Sonoma County Syrah, the 2006 Lily Hill Petite Sirah and the 2007 Late Harvest Zinfandel.  We had a great time and enjoyed the wines and I think we appreciate the wines even more now.

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Lily Hill Vineyard: Photo to give you an idea of one of the vines

Tasting Fee: $5 (No reservation required)

Make sure you make reservations ahead of time if you want to enjoy the Cave Tour and/or Tour of the Vineyard both of which I highly recommend — I wish we had done it!  We will next visit, for sure.

Recommendation:  Highly recommend you visit!

Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves:  9711 West Dry Creek Road; Healdsburg, CA 95448