The Sonoma Run, Pt. III
Being that our hotel was in Santa Rosa, we were positioned comfortably near the middle of the Sonoma winery region. We headed north on Hwy 101 for a thankfully short ride (Highway 101 has all the charm and appeal of most freeways) to the Kendall-Jackson Winery Center.
The winery was founded in 1982 by Jess Jackson and his family. In 1983 K-J debuted with their Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay and won the Double Platinum Award in the American Wine Competition that year. By 1992 Kendall-Jackson had become one of the most popular chardonnays in the U.S. Tasting prices are $10 USD for “Classic” and $20 USD for “Reserve”. Both tastings include a signature glass although our sommelier failed to provide one. Favorites: 2010 Grand Reserve Chardonnay – $22 USD and 2009 Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – $19 USD.
A stone’s throw way (if you’re an MLB pitcher) is the Sonoma Cutrer winery. Sonoma Cutrer has produced some of the finest chards available in California. Although true “Grand Cru” wines can only come from Europe, Sonoma Cutrer practices what they call “Grand Cru Philosophy” in winemaking. They’ve adopted the same detail oriented techniques that the burgundians have been using for centuries. Tasting costs are $10 USD and the taste/tour combo is $25 USD. Both are real bargains and both do require reservations. Favorites: 2008 Russian River Pinot Noir – $34 USD, Les Pierres Chardonnay 2010 – $36 USD.
Our final stop for the day was at the Simi winery in Healdsburg. Founded by brothers Guiseppe and Pietro Simi, Simi has been producing wines in California since 1876. The existing winery location has enjoyed the same address since 1890 and still retains much of the same architecture. Tasting costs are $10 USD with tours available at select times of the day. Favorites: 2010 Russian River Valley Reserve Chardonnay – $28 USD and 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel – $30 USD.
Back to our hotel to compare notes and see which of the two valleys – Napa or Sonoma, makes the best use of their grape harvest.
Next – The outcome.