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Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh no, another barrel tasting!

The first two weekends of March hosted the Wine Road Barrel Tasting Event with well over 100 wineries participating from Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys.   This weekend was Sonoma Valley's turn.   I made a few stops on Sunday.


They have a small tasting room in Kenwood with their production done in a Sonoma warehouse.  This is the first time I've had their wines.  They seem to be mostly about Syrah and Petite Sirah though my favorite was the Bedrock Zinfandel from a nearby 120 year old vineyard.  As with most old Zin vineyards this one is field-blended with Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouchet, Carignane and God knows what.


One of the bigger facilities and it was a popular stop for folks.  I've had their wines many times, but this was the first time I've been in their caves--what a huge maze of tunnels!   But the aisles are narrow with wine barrels up both sides.  I wouldn't want to be the one maneuvering a forklift hauling barrels through there.  

They were only pouring a few or their many wines.  The Rhone blend, Vallee de la Lune, stood out but I have a thing for Rhone blends anyway.

This is a good stop if you want something besides the regular wine tasting.  They offer special tour/tastings with everything from a hillside mountain tour with one of the Kunde family where you can bring your dog to a "Bottle Shock" tour showing you where scenes from the movie were filmed.

The Kunde family has been on the same large ranch for many generations.  They were recently in the news for selling off ("partnering" they called it) a percentage of the hospitality side of the business, but not the vineyards, to a marketing firm.  The recession is hurting everyone.

Little Vineyards

It's a little family (four kids actually) with a little tasting room where one of the sons had his little jazz band playing (ok, I stop the "little" jokes now).  This was my first experience with these nice wines.   The red blend, Band Blend Track 4, at $17 retail is a great deal.  I bought several.

Just one more... Since the name Little Feat is already taken maybe the band could be Little Feet (used for stomping the grapes)?  Okay, I'll stop.


An Aussie winemaker specializing in Syrah and Cab/Syrah blends (imagine that)!  I hadn't  been to their facility before but have had their wines a couple times previously.   Besides the Syrah, the Hillside Zinfandel was also good.

St. Francis

I'm quite familiar with their wines but we had to stop for the triple chocolate brownies.  They had a '09 barrel sample Zinfandel from the vineyard of Mike Lee, the original owner/winemaker from Kenwood Vineyards.  Good stuff!  They didn't know yet whether it would be a vineyard-designated wine or blended in another Zin.   Hopefully, it will be on its own.  

Only problem was when I bellied up to the bar with one other couple and four staff members behind the bar I couldn't get waited on.  At least the cellar staff with the barrel samples was nice.


VJB was founded by an Italian family who immigrated here to first open a restaurant in Santa Rosa.   The winery's name is the initials of a son who passed unexpectedly in his 30's.

My first tasting here in a long time and they have some nice wines.  The Montepulciano stood out. It's an Italian-style red at $50.  The Dante, a Cab/Sangiovese blend, was also well done and retailing for a more reasonable $32.

An Aside

There is a lot of wine available at these events.  You have to be smart enough to control your intake -- someone apparently didn't.   On Saturday, at a winery to rename nameless, as the employees were leaving at 5 pm a slightly frantic sweet young thing came up telling them she'd "lost" a girlfriend a couple hours ago.  She had just sent her boyfriend to find her (that sounds like trouble).   She was afraid maybe her friend had passed out in the vineyards somewhere.  Oh well, I guess she eventually showed up.  Maybe she was in the bathroom.   Maybe she didn't go back out wine tasting Sunday.   And the sweet young thing was standing around with an unzipped fly while she's telling her tale.