I need this sign I saw at Christie Vineyard
I had the best day yesterday, attending the Wine Road Barrel Tasting in the Russian River Valley. This is an event running two weekends in March in which many of the wineries participate and offer tastings from their barrels, as well as current production, and offer futures on the barrels. It is a great opportunity to explore the wineries in the area, talk to the winemakers, and learn more about their offerings. I went up with Stef, one of my best friends whom I've known since middle school, and her fiancee Philip.
Our first stop and check-in point was Alderbrook Winery for check-in. It was very crowded, but only because it was the beginning of the morning and every had to check in somewhere; we met fewer crowds at most of the other stops we made. We picked up our souvenir wine glasses and were strapped with our identifying wristbands, and then got to tasting. Alderbrook has a lovely and large tasting room, with lots of wine-type items and foods for purchase. They were pouring quite a few of their current bottles, and had a barrel of their zin for sampling.
Our next stop was Twomey Cellars, with a very modern tasting room and native plant gardens. We sampled a few barrels, and a few bottles (one smelled strongly of strawberries!), and snacked on popcorn topped with a variety of gourmet salts.
Accidental color coordination
Next up was Wilson Winery. They were pouring in the tasting room and from barrels in their barrel room. My favorite was their Molly's Zin, named for the winery dog. The Sawyer's Zin from the barrel was good too. Along with their wine Wilson was serving tri-tip and a fantastically garlicky coleslaw. This winery, and Twomey before it, were on the busier side, but things quieted down over the course of the day as participants spread over the entire area.
I think we're both copping a feel here
Then we stopped at Rued Vineyards. It was much quieter here, and their Cabernet Sauvignon was very nice. They also had caramel corn to munch on, and a very pretty little setting. Next we were off to Zichichi Family Vineyard, a very small operation where we tasted some very good Zin. And then we stopped at Dutcher Crossing. They have a beautiful facility, good wines, and also offered risotto topped with a sausage sauce and rosemary grape tomatoes that were fantastic.
Mustard in the vineyards
Then we headed back down 101 to Christopher Creek Winery where we had more great Zin and watched people overfeed a dog that was wandering around on the sausage appetizers while I snacked on brownie bites. The staff here, like almost every other winery we stopped at, were very friendly too. A short drive down the road and we got to Limerick Lane Cellars, where they have a pool shaped like a wine bottle, though I didn't see it.
Our final stop, and my favorite, was Christie Estate Winery, which doesn't seem to have a webpage. They were very laid back and fun, housed in a big old barn. The wines were very good (I left with "Pantry Dropping Zin" and "imPORTant" and I want to go back from the Big 5), the people were great, a kid was giving ATV rides around the property to see the vines and the pigs, and they had a game where you got three basketball shots: sink one and you get a case of their wine; miss and you have to buy a case. I loved the chill atmosphere here!
This is what happens when you give Philip the camera - hiney shots
Stef and I want to be their next label girls
Then we headed home, stopping off for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in San Rafael for a big bowls of pasta and yummy spinach dip to soak up some of the wine in our bellies. It was such a fun day, I got to try so many different wines and definitely have a few new favorites, meet some really nice people at the wineries, and spend time with two of my favorite people in the world. Thanks!