Local Attractions & Things To Do

Ultimate Guide: Wine Caves

Posted on December 10, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

Visiting wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties is a bucket list experience that draws wine enthusiasts from all around the world, but wine tasting is really just the tip of the iceberg. Top your visit off with a visit to a wine cave for a truly memorable—even magical—experience.

The cave is where perfect temperature and humidity allow wines to age gracefully and transform from goodto award-winning. Caves provide the ideal storage environment for wine. The temperature remains constant—usually around 58℉ in California—and the humidity is relatively high. This, in turn, minimizes evaporation of the wines as they age.

The Soul of the Wine

There may be something intangible that caves add to wine as well—this is where the magic comes in. Martha McClellan, the winemaker at Sloan Estate, suggests the caves add to the soul of the wine. In her own words… “The cave’s purpose is to provide a tranquil, peace-filled atmosphere for the wine to rest and age for two or more years. In the end, this beauty contributes tothe soul of the wine, nurtured from vine, to tank, to barrel and ultimately to bottle.’”

Benefits of Caves

The constant temperature and humidity is not only good for the wines, it is good for the wineries and our world at large. By utilizing the stable cave climate there is no need to use expensive and energy intensive equipment to store wine. And by building underground, wineries leave the valuable real estate above ground available for planting.

Then to Now: The Evolution of Gourmet Caves

Caves were constructed in Sonoma and Napa Counties beginning in the 1870’s, but the caves that are built today are a far cry from their predecessors. Today’s caves are used for much more than just storage—they are designed to play a vital role in the hospitality of the wineries. Caves are used for tasting rooms, retail shops, office space, special events, private dinners, and even music venues.

This diversity of functions is great news for visitors, because the magic of being in a wine cave is an experience that you will not want to miss!

Go Deeper

Check out this fabulous guide to caves in Northern California that you can visit today!

Want a cave of your own? We are offering a well established winery off the iconic Silverado Trail with a 4500± sq. ft. cave of its own. LEARN MORE

 

*Quote from Martha McClellan courtesy of californiabountiful.com

*Featured image courtesy of Far Niente Winery

 

 

History of the Sonoma Valley AVA: Making Wine For 150 Years

Posted on November 07, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

The fledgling town of Glen Ellen has a post office, hotel and cooper shop. The area is home to “some of the most experienced vine-growers in the county . . . a radius of six miles, with Glen Ellen at its center, would, in the opinion of many, include the finest grape-growing section in the State of California.”
—Thompson’s Historical Atlas of Sonoma County, 1877

The Sonoma Valley AVA is the first winemaking region in Sonoma County. Home to one of the original commercial wineries in California (established in 1857), Sonoma Valley produces world class, unparalleled wines that bring in tourists from all around the globe.


*There are 18 AVAs in Sonoma County, encompassing 60,000± acres of planted vineyards & 425± wineries. The Sonoma Valley AVA is in the Southern portion of the county on the border of Napa County.

Sonoma Valley earned AVA status in 1981. It consists of 55 wineries and 14,000± vineyard acres along a 17± mile stretch of the Valley of Sonoma (also known as the Valley of the Moon). This unique and beautiful region is bordered by the Mayacama Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west. Significant towns of the region include Glen Ellen, Sonoma and the hamlet of Kenwood.

The vineyards are planted among groves of ancient Valley oaks. Established aquifers and seasonal creeks provide water year-round. Once home to Native American tribes, pioneers during the California Gold Rush era, grizzlies, Steelhead trout, salmon, migrating birds, tule elk, and pronghorn, the valley is rich in human and ecological history.

Known for its unique terroir, the vineyards of Sonoma Valley have long benefited from the cool air that flows through the valley from the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo bay. The valley has ideal growing conditions for the world-class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes of the region. Sonoma Valley winemakers have, for decades, transformed these grapes into fine wines that are unparalleled in body and flavor.

Discover a Few of Our Favorite Historical Wineries in the Sonoma Valley AVA

Established in 1857, Gundlach Bundschu is the oldest continuously operating family winery in California. The walls of the tasting room showcase the deep history of the winery. Surrounding grounds offer some of the best picnicking in the area. The tasting room is open daily 11 to 4:30.

Buena Vista Winery opened just three months prior to Gundlach Bundschu. Now owned by the Boisset Family, you can travel back in time with a tour in the retrofitted original building and caves. Stop by the tasting room any day between 10 am – 5 pm.

In operation since 1904, Kunde Winery is currently run by 4th and 5th generations of the Kunde family. The original winery was located a few miles from the winery you see today. Still, the place is steeped in a deep knowledge and unique history. Tasting room open daily, 10:30 am to 4:30.

Annadel Estate Winery was first established in 1880 by the Bolle family. The Bolle family home still stands. And the old stone walls of the original winery still grace the property. Purchased in 2007 and renovated over the past decade, this estate vineyard is a stunning example of Sonoma Valley history. Tasting is by appointment only.

We are thrilled to announce a new listing for Majestic Oaks Estate Winery in the Sonoma Valley AVA! View the listing: CLICK HERE

Wildlife Wineries of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

Posted on October 24, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

You may already be aware of the importance of sustainable agricultural practices for the longevity of our land, wildlife & communities. These practices minimize the use of pesticide and chemical fertilizers, protecting our waterways and topsoil; maintain wildlife habitat by setting aside acreage for wild plants and animals; and include efforts to reduce water, energy use and recycle material goods in all aspects of the business (aka vineyard & wineries).

Discover our favorite local wineries and vineyards that are making sustainable wines, and focusing on wildlife habitat conservation at the core of their land management plans.

Frey Vineyards

Frey Vineyards manages just 10% of their land as vineyards with the remaining acreage kept as wild forestland. They have placed bird boxes throughout their property, and have eight hives of honey bees.

Preston Winery

Preston produces more than just wine… they also grow olives, heirloom grains, apples, peaches, figs, walnuts, vegetables, sheep, chicken, and pigs. Beyond this agricultural diversity that supports insects and bird life, Preston Winery leaves some of their property wild. They have hedgerows that attract beneficial insects, and use annual cover crops—a method central to organic farming—to build healthy soil.

Parducci

The Parducci Winery Estate is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, allowing and even encouraging wildlife to life among the vines. To facilitate this partnership between wildlife and their land, they provide nesting boxes for owls and songbirds to help manage pests, and plant cover crops to attract beneficial insects.

Quivira

Quivira has been a leading voice in preserving and restoring the riparian corridor of Wine Creek, a Dry Creek tributary that has a native Steelhead trout and Coho salmon population. Beyond these restoration efforts, they are committed to composting. In fact, they maintain a 500 cubic yard compost pile that recycles waste from their gardens, animals, and vineyards.

 

If you enjoy this topic and want to do more for the wildlife in your neighborhood, check out my article from last week about simple steps to increase wildlife habitat in your own backyard: CLICK HERE

 

Art Trails of Sonoma County – Like a Treasure Hunt (but better!)

Posted on October 10, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

Sonoma County Art Trails goes onto my schedule, every year, twice a year, without fail.  And this isn’t just because I live next door to the talented Carole Watanabe.  Well, that could be part of it… but more so, Art Trails creates a great excuse to get out & about to new places in Sonoma County.  As we are driving down numerous hidden back-country roads toward our next stop on the Art Trails, we have the perfect excuse to stop off at a nearby winery or restaurant for refreshment and sustenance.  After all, looking at so much great art is sort of like an endurance race, requiring (delicious) food & hydration……

I am proud to call Sebastopol my home of many years. I love its progressive attitude and upscale down-to-earth vibe, among other things. So its no surprise that my town is home to the largest Art Center in California, north of San Francisco—Sebastopol Center for the Arts—responsible for creating this fun adventure known as Sonoma County Art Trails.

If you’re new to Art Trails, here’s a great way to take advantage of this event: Go to the Sebastopol Center for the Arts at 282 S High St, Sebastopol, CA 95472. They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10-4 pm and have extended hours over the weekend from 10-5 pm (10/13 & 14 and 10/20 & 21). Once there, you can pick up the Art Trails Catalog and Map, plus view the participants’ paintings throughout the gallery (each artist has one piece hanging in the gallery).  Or simply CLICK HERE for a digital version & print at your leisure.

Meanwhile, enjoy rambling around all the open art studios throughout Sonoma County….and have a great, art-filled weekend!

— Mark

 

Schedule for Sonoma County Art Trails

Sundays and Saturdays, October 13, 2018 – October 21, 2018

Upcoming Dates:

~ Saturday, October 13, 2018 – 10:00am to 05:00pm
~ Sunday, October 14, 2018 – 10:00am to 05:00pm
~ Saturday, October 20, 2018 – 10:00am to 05:00pm

Cost: Free

Location:

Various Sonoma County Art Studios
Sebastopol Center for the Arts
282 S. High Street
SebastopolCalifornia 95472

For More Information:

Contact: Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Local: 707-829-4797
Email: info@sebarts.org

 

*Featured image courtesy of sonomacountyarttrails.org

Sebastopol Highlight: The Barlow

Posted on October 02, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

With the holidays around the corner, you may be looking for inspiration and specialty gifts for your loved ones. Look no further than The Barlow in Sebastopol. First opened in 2013, The Barlow is almost a town unto itself, filled with premier shops, tasting rooms, breweries, and restaurants. Set aside a few hours to drink, eat, picnic, walk and shop in this beautiful outdoor shopping center featuring some of the best products Sonoma County has to offer.

Shops

Scout West County has been called “The Barlow’s new modern general store.” They have a wide selection of clothes, homegoods, and gifts focused on sustainability and craftsmanship.
Sonoma Flower Mart brings wholesale flowers to the public. They work with 15+ local farms to source high quality flowers year-round.
Community Market is a full-service grocery store featuring organic and health foods. Stop in to fill your kitchen larder or enjoy prepared food from the deli.

Also check out: Adele Stoll, Tamarind Clothing, Gallery 300, Elsie Green, California Sister Floral, The Passdoor, and Soap Cauldron.

Dining and Drinking

Kosho is a new addition to The Barlow. They offer modern Japanese cuisine utilizing fresh, high quality ingredients.
Golden State Cider (coming Spring 2019) uses the finest west coast apples to make a selection of high quality hard ciders.
Barrio: Fresca Cocina Mexicana serves gourmet Mexican street food in a contemporary style.
Pax Wines is focused on making wines from Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Carignan grapes with as little intervention as possible.

Also check out: Seismic Brewing Company (coming soon), The Farmer’s Wife (coming soon), Crooked Goat Brewing, Friedman Wines, Guayaki, Kosta Browne Winery, MacPhail Tasting Lounge, The Nectary, Spirit Works Distillery, Two Dog Night Creamery, Taylor Lane Coffee, Village Bakery, WM Cofield Cheesemakers, Woodfour Brewing, Zazu Kitchen + Farm.

The Barlow also has an event center that is available to host weddings, corporate events or private events celebrating any special occasion.

*images courtesy of thebarlow.net and www.fdc-comp.com

2018 Wine Country Harvest Celebrations

Posted on September 18, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

We are thrilled grape harvest is in full swing—full of anticipation for spectacular 2018 vintage. To celebrate the harvest and honor the hard work that goes into turning the excellent fruit of our region into world class wines, check out our favorite events in the area.

Valley of The Moon Vintage Festival
September 28 – 30, 2018
Cost: Varies

The oldest festival in California, this gathering offers a variety of events that appeal to all interests. Enjoy live music, dancing, local food and wines, grape stomping, a “light parade,” and various running races.

Kendall-Jackson
September 30, 2018, 11:00 – 4:00 PM
Cost: $150, $120 for wine club members

Join Kendall-Jackson for their second annual harvest celebration. Enjoy live music, exquisite wine and delicious food from local restaurants—including Single Thread and Two Birds/One Stone. Benefiting the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County, this unmissable event offers educational seminars and demonstrations that highlight local food and the local wine industry.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair
October 5-7, 2018
Cost: $5 for Gate Admission, $60 for Grand Tasting, $125 for Harvest Fair Dinner

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is an excellent showcase for some of the stunning products that are grown and made in Sonoma County. The multi-day event celebrates the region’s top winemakers, growers, microbrewers, and artisans—plus it includes opportunities to taste award winning wines, craft beer, and excellent regional cuisine.

Seghesio Home Ranch
October 6, 2018, 10 AM – 1 PM
Cost: $75 General Admission, $60 Wine Club Member

Begin your day with a guided hike through Seghesio’s 120 year old vines up to  Rattlesnake Hill overlooking the beautiful Anderson Valley. With the most delux views in the region, you will be treated to a lunch featuring wines exclusively from Seghesio’s Home Ranch Estate.