Sonoma County stands among the great wine-growing regions in the world. Napa may lay claim as the finest wine region in this country, but that’s a sort of Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning sort of argument (or, now, Tom versus Aaron Rogers): the argument cannot be won. Sonoma, with its long wine-producing history—long by American standards, at least—has brought forth wineries and wines to match any in the world.
Russian colonists first planted vines in Sonoma in 1812. Vineyards now command some 49000 acres. The county claims 750 growers and 180 bonded wineries. It is a major industry.
We wish to highlight a few Sonoma wineries for your delectation. As no one needs reminding, we enter the season both of gift giving and festive celebration. The following wineries offer splendid choices for both uses.
This energetic winery has become a staple for our stores. Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather lived in Sonoma. This gentleman, Jacuzzi by name, left Fred with sufficient inheritance from the family spa business to allow the purchase of 350 acres in the Carneros District of Sonoma County. Thus in 1982 began Cline Cellars.
Considerable of Cline’s vineyard holdings include old vines, Zinfandel and Mourvedre particularly. Old vines produce scant quantity but their grapes possess great concentration. Cline produces a heady array of wines, much of them Rhone varieties, both red and white.
Cline’s best wine, if one must choose, could be the Rhone blend Cashmere. Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah combine in the silkiest of red wines, super ripe and delectable. Cashmere has been a significant hit when poured at our tastings.
Other wines include Pinot noir, Viognier, and Pinot gris.
That Cline Cellars’ wines price below $20 a bottle adds to their charm.
Dry Creek Vineyards
MIT grad David Stare worked for several years for B&O Railroad before realizing that life on the Monopoly board was not for him. Interest in Loire Valley wines inspired him to start his own winery, back in 1972.
In those olden days, much of Dry Creek Valley and much of what we now know as wine country, was family farms or prune orchards. Stare pioneered the region. He replaced prunes with Fume blanc and other varieties. Fume blanc put the winery on the map. Even now, Dry Creek’s Fume blanc stands as a definitive expression of the grape: racy, grassy, and citrusy, and a match for any Pouilly-Fumé but far less dear in price.
Dry Creek also produces Cabernet sauvignon and Zinfandel, both full-scale yet rewardingly supple. Now run by Stare’s daughter Kim, the winery’s lineup of wines expresses Sonoma’s balance of power and grace.
Rodney Strong Vineyards
Rodney Strong established his winery in 1959, becoming Sonoma’s 13th bonded winery. Strong helped bring Pinot noir to the county and was the first in the valley to produce a single vineyard Cabernet.
The Klein family bought the winery in 1989 and have continued the innovative tradition set by Strong. Rodney Strong Vineyard consists of 14 vineyard holdings, with each variety planted in the best climatic conditions for its kind. The winery is the first in Sonoma to be carbon-neutral.
The winery offers an extensive lineup, including three stalwart, go-to wines: Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, and Chardonnay. All three of these wines cost less than $15 a bottle, and all perfectly are delicious. The winery’s lushly-fruited Pinot noir never disappoints.
The combination of price, quality, and character present in the wines of Rodney Strong Vineyards makes this winery one of the standards of our stores.
For 40 years, Silver Oak has produced richly-flavoured, sensually-textured, world-class Cabernet sauvignon. Abidingly deep fruit, fragrant new oak, and a silky mouth feel have made Silver Oak the quintessential restaurant wine. The winery ekes out some few bottles for retail trade.
What better gift, to yourself or to friends, than this astonishingly delicious wine. Silver Oak Cabernets age quite well, but few wine lovers manage to hold onto the bottles long enough to find out.