My dad was visiting with his wife last week and they had yet to make the trek to the wine country and wanted to see what it is all about. I had hoped to make it up during the week as fewer people usually mean a better experience. Alas, that job got in the way again and the calendar was on Sunday. With their return date looming we hopped in the car and headed for Sonoma County. I found a few wineries in Dry Creek that piqued my interest so we headed in that direction knowing that I had a few favorites in the Alexander Valley next door.
Our first stop was Pedroncelli, this one caught my eye as it did not seem like a massive operation but still had a number of wines that you could take home in the neighborhood of $10. I wanted to make sure that if my dad was going to buy something he could get it at reasonable price point. Further more, I wanted to go here first so they could see the difference in prices as you went from winery to winery. The experience here was very nice, the staff were very friendly and they had plenty of wines available for tasting and I don’t think any of them were more than $20, I knew I should have saved my tasting sheet… Just checked the net and all 13 of those currently listed for sale were available at the tasting bar. None of them were bad, none were remarkable. Fair value for the dollar would be the best way to sum up our experience here. I am a sucker for a good rose when out tasting, but never barbeque so they end up piling in the wine rack. Nonetheless there is a new one know as I picked up a bottle of the Zinfandel Rosé ($10). The Port ($16), which I always seem to come home with as well, was very nice and made the shopping bag. Lastly, the Petite Sirah ($14.50) seemed worthy of a buy, if any are going to disappoint it may be this one. Very nice wine for the price but may have rather rolled the dice on something else. When tasting my wallet tends to open wider that when in the store so this one found its way to the car and we were off.
By this point the intentions of those along for this ride were clear and everyone was more interested in a day in the wine country than in tasting, except for me of course. So upon leaving here we immediately headed to the winery I wanted to visit the most, Martin Family Vineyards. I am not sure how I knew of them but I was sure I did. I think a friend brought over a bottle of their wine sometime back, though maybe not. Here nor there, we entered the tasting room and cozied up to the bar. Most of those mentioned here were available for tasting. First on the menu was their Chardonnay ($14), those of you that read here often know that I am not a fan, but boy was I impressed! They let the grapes do the talking, most chardonnay all I seem to here from is the barrel. I enjoyed this one so much that I likely should have grabbed more than the bottle that I did but I was attempting to be fiscally responsible. Next up was another Zinfandel Rosé ($14) which was again a very nice wine. Had it not been for me walking out of our previous stop and promising myself no more rosé or port this would have been headed back to San Francisco as well. We followed that up with their Merlot ($18), which I like even less. I have posted 98 reviews here and if you look closely there is a grand total of zero for this varietal. At the time, this one was more or less making its way home with me. Sadly, it appears this was the last time the Chardonnay and the Merlot will be available. Most of the fruit for these was usually sold, I believe to Clos du Bois, and apparently the business plan had changed and these vines were uprooted. From there we tried a few other offering which were all very high quality efforts before our kind hostess pulled a bottle of Old Vine Red Rooster Zinfandel ($31) out from underneath the counter to share with us. Apparently this was one of the 21 bottles left, which I could have afforded them all. A stunning effort I was ready to buy at first taste, what made it a no-brainer is when my wife was on board with me purchasing it. This was a great stop! I think I am likely to join this wine club once I figure out which one I can drop. The quality of all of these wines plus their interest in trying things, there was a Carignane that I saw listed and was hoping to taste and they were selling futures for an Alicante Bouschet I would love to try, oft the beaten path match perfectly with what I am looking for. These are bottles that you can look forward to receiving not only because the wines are good but because they are also interesting and likely to be rewarded by learning something new about wine, your palate, or maybe even yourself.
Hope I didn’t lose anyone there, obviously really enjoyed the experience at Martin Family. Back in the car it was clear my dad and his wife were only interested in seeing what the wine country was all about. Thoughts of quickly heading over to Sausal and/or Ridge were rapidly disappearing. Though I was tempted to run in and see if they had any of the 2003 York Creek Zinfandel left. I was able to buy some of the ’04 but sure would have loved another try of that ’03. Common sense and/or fiscal prudence overcame nostalgia and we headed into Healdsburg for a quick bite before returning home. Time to start saving for next time!