Sonoma wine tasting, where to start

May 26th, 2006, 07:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 76
Sonoma wine tasting, where to start

This will be our first wine tasting trip to Sonoma this weekend. I enjoy wine but I'm a little inexperienced in this matter. I'm a little nervous about my trip because I don't want to come across as a complete idiot with my lack of wine knowledge. I've read some posts where there have been wineries that aren't too "nice" if you don't know your wines. I'm hoping to avoid this, so do you have any suggestions as to what wineries we should start with to begin our wine tasting journey. Any help would be appreciated.
JennyP is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 08:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Preston, Quivera, Ledson & Viansa.
SAnParis is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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I don't know a lot about wine either. My brother lives in the area so I have been to a TON of wineries, most of which I can't remember the names of. If you just drive around, they are EVERYWHERE. There are "Wine Road" maps available all over the place in Sonoma and Napa area. I prefer Sonoma and Russian River area. A zillion little and big wineries. Some charge to taste, some don't. Some will have a selection of free tastings and then will charge to taste the "better" wines. Frankly, any wine maker worth anything takes pleasure in speaking to people about his/her product and helping people learn more about wine and to appreciate wine. This has been MY experience in most of the wineries I have visited. If someone EVER gave me the feeling that I was stupid because I did not know a lot about wine? Well, I would be taking my business else where. As far as good or bad wine? There IS NO good or bad wine. If it tasted good to YOU then it's a good wine, if it tastes BAD to you, then it's a bad wine, and don't let anyone ever tell you differently. I don't drink a lot of wine, so....for me, if I taste, I like, I buy, and for the most part, I don't care about the price. I don't drink everyday so I don't need to find one of the inexpensive "drinable" table wines. I'm NOT a snob...I just don't drink very ofter. I have a wine frige so that my wine will keep well while it waits for me to drink it. I have wine I love that's 20.00 per bottle, and wine I love that was 60.00 per bottle. It doesn't matter, the only thing that matters to me is, do I like it. It's just that simple. People wax on about "chocolate overtones, hint of berries" and yadda yadda. I am not denying that there are knowledgable people with sophisticated palats. I'm not one of them. The wine country is gorgous, there are a zillion wineries you can visit, so worrying about what you know or don't know is just something you don't have to deal with. Just enjoy your visit, taste some wines, buy if you like and not if you don't like. That's the other thing...I feel NO obligation to buy the wine I taste whether I have paid for the tasting or not. If I don't like it, I won't buy it. Period, end of story. Do NOT be intimidated and if ANY winery makes you feel that way, leave. Enjoy your trip.
crefloors is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,398
Head to Glen Ellen--Benziger Family Winery on the road to Jack London State Park. After the tran tour, you might stop for lunch in Glen Ellen, then head over to Imagery (Benziger's sister winery--they should comp you while you're at Benziger). Then either head up the valley to a number of great wineries, or down the valley to Gloria Ferrar (sparkling wines) or Viansa (great deli & views). Salute!
TrvlMaven is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,857
JennyP, I think crefloors gave you some very good advice-don't bother with any winery that has attitude-there's a
a nicer staff next door !

Ask all the questions you want and enjoy being new to the experience.
My faves for newbies in the Sonoma Valley area
are Mayo, Benzinger (tram tour is cute),
Ravenswood (very fun crew), Buena Vista,
Gundlach Bundschu, Gloria Ferrar-not Viansa-tour bus hell, the quality of the deli and the entire operation has gone downhill since the
the original family sold out to a corporation which is running them in to debt.

Do bring a light jacket-it's chilly and very,very windy here this weekend !
razzledazzle is offline  
May 27th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Jenny, you might consider getting a guide book from your library or store rather than just going blindly. Except for Viansa, you've gotten some great tips. I also love J's with their delicious food/wine pairings. We've done that for lunch a couple times. I'm not sure if you're talking about Sonoma the town or the vallet, but my favorites are the Dry Creek Vallet, Russian River and the Alexander Valley. The latter is a lot of fun, very quiet and a real diverse selection of wineries from the potholed driveway garage-type tasting room at Johnson Family to the elegant mansion setting at Robert Young. If you go to small wineries, they'll have time for you and teach you a lot. Remember to SIP and don't be scared to pour it out.
LLindaC is offline  
May 27th, 2006, 11:18 AM
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I can't type. I meant valley with a Y, lol, and what I meant about Viansa is that even though the views are nice and the gift shop is fun, the place is a zoo, crowded and I don't like their wines anymore. We used to be wine club members and noticed a real decline.
LLindaC is offline  
May 27th, 2006, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 36
Viansa Winery which is owned by Sam & Vicki Sebastiani is a great location for wine and food tasting. Not only do they have wine tasting and educational tours, but a fantastic marketplace to sample dozens of dips, sandwiches and treats to satisfy any palate.
vickmar is offline  
May 27th, 2006, 12:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,857
Viansa winery is no longer owned by
Sam & Vicki Sebastiani, or any of their children. The couple is divorced. The children sold the place to the 360 Global Corporation in 2005. The winery is 30 million in debt and not at all the place you describe anymore.

razzledazzle is offline  
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