Saturday, August 5, 2017

Napa / Sonoma Wine Experience 2017

Napa / Sonoma Wine Experience 2017

We just returned from a week touring the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. This year we broke from the tradition and routine we adopted years ago of focusing on one 'AVA' (American Viticultural Area) or appellation per trip. We adopted this approach years ago for several reasons: the immersion in one appellation provided a comparative tasting of producers' styles and terrior effects, it simplified and limited transit travel from one wine stop to the next, and, in retrospect, its much easier to recall specifics of a trip as we recount experiences from our trip that focused on 'Atlas Peak', 'Diamond Mtn',  'Howell Mtn', 'Mt Veeder', and/or 'Spring Mtn' appellations.

Notably, we started this model when we were focusing on 'mountain' appellations where travel is much more challenging in the remote mountain regions. We adopted an approach of starting at the top of the mountain and working our way down. This worked out well and allowed efficiency, enjoyment, and perspective on the whole wine and travel experience.

This trip was the first time for one of our travelers so we were showcasing certain favored producers. We were also visiting or revisiting select targeted favorite producers rather than selecting based on geography.

This was also our first trip to focus on exploring and discovering the more remote appellations of Sonoma County, as a discovery and learning trip, setting the stage for further in-depth immersive studies in the future. We stayed the first few days in the Pacific coastal town of Bodega Bay.

Sonoma County is vast, covering almost 60,000 acres of vineyards, with a broad diverse range of terrior and microclimates. Sonoma County, reaches all the way to the Pacific Coast from the west side of the Mayacamas Mountain range that forms the eastern boundary of the Sonoma Valley and separates Sonoma Valley from Napa Valley. Sonoma County consists of 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs, or appellations) – each with its own distinctive characteristics. There are more than 400 wineries in the region.
The western Sonoma County Sonoma Coast area is emerging as the source of 'cool climate' Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
This week we focused on, visited and toured the Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Green Valley and Dry Creek Valley appellations, as well as Sonoma Valley. This set the stage, so watch for more immersive studies on these areas in the future, now that we have the big picture and understanding of navigating the region.

This trip targeted and featured several of our favorite and well known producers whose wines we hold and drink regularly as featured in this blog: Diamond Creek, Lewis Cellars, Joseph Phelps, Hall Rutherford Estate, Del Dotto, Darioush and Cliff Lede, and a few others.

We also discovered some new producers or producer's sites in the remote Sonoma areas - Gary Farrell and Porter Creek Vineyards and Winery. Lastly, we also visited Krug in Sonoma County, and  Chateau St Jean and Kunde in Sonoma Valley, and Trefethen in Napa.

Watch for and follow my winery visit reports and tasting notes and purchase and tasting 'Tweets' on @unwindwine on Twitter and in this blog in the coming days and weeks as I draft and publish my experiences and findings.