Well, we stopped to check out this winery as it was along the route we were taking. I will not recommend a stop. The wine is just so-so. But that's not why you shouldn't bother. The women working behind the counter didn't seem very friendly. Almost abrasive. We saw other customers buying wine and they were more than happy to collect their payment but get the wine yourself that was stored underneath a table. Not too attentive when it came to people who were tasting wine (like us). We had to wait sometimes several, several minutes before we were offered a taste of the next wine. If you wanted to rinse your glass out, you had to go over to the water dispenser and get the water from there. Most wineries provide a pitcher of water at the counter even an additional glass of water if you want to clear your palette. Anyway, I thought I'd write a blurb so others won't waste their time.
Our friend Karen took us to this beautiful winery and we took a short tour of the shop and then decided on a bottle of Zinfandel 2003, it cost a hefty $US 24 (which is high compared to a similar wine in Israel), but was worth it when we enjoyed it over a picnic lunch that Karen had packed for us at home.
The hardest thing about our 2 days in the California Wine Country is to try and decide which wineries we wanted to stop by and visit and what else we could fit in. We didn't want to drive ourselves crazy going from winery to winery and attraction to attraction so it took plenty of pre-planning to at least assemble some semblance of order. Not that we were going to follow all of our plan, but at least it gave us a logistical way to cover as much ground as we could in our only two days in the area.
I had checked the weather forecast starting 10 days ahead of time and although it looked favorable, I was just a little worried. When we arrived in San Francisco a mere 33 hours before in a light rain after having been delayed at O'Hare in Chicago for 90 minutes we were getting a little worried. And then on Sunday morning into the early afternoon the gray skies and some light and heavy rain continued. However, late in the afternoon as we were finishing our brief tour of Sausalito and started heading up to Healdsburg, the rain departed. We woke up that Monday morning to an absolutely gorgeous day of sunshine and weather in the upper 60's, lower 70's predicted. My PERFECT type of weather.
We chose Ferrari-Carano as the first winery to visit based upon a recommendation from my server and wine buyer from my favorite restaurant in Moorhead, Minnesota. I had eaten at the restaurant where he worked in September and asked him to give me a few suggestions. This one was at the top of his list. And after visiting I could see why.
We started out just after 10:00 a.m. from our hotel and had a nice little ride in the country for about 15 minutes. I was surprised I only stopped for one picture along the way. I was tempted to take many more, but figured we would get a chance to work those digital cameras and camcorder once we arrived.
We found the winery with no problem as like a lot of wineries it is just off one of the main roads. Since it was fairly early in the day and a week or so past the rush of all the tourist and real serious wine folk there were only a few cars in the parking lot.
Before we even arrived at the house itself, we entered the area to the right where they have a very nice garden area to walk through. We got a little kick out of the gentlemen in the garden tending to the weeds. He was a little older then us, but must have been working 10 times slower. I have included the pictures from the garden area in a separate travelogue for Healdsburg.
More to come.
They are open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Enoteca open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding major holidays.
We were in the Healdsburg main street/park area around 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon. There was a small farmers market happening while we were there. We bought some local peaches and enjoyed them in the park before moving on. Once again a very relaxed atmosphere.
About half an hour drive or so west from Healdsburg was one of the main attractions of the area for us. We were very keen to see the massive Redwood trees and we weren't disappointed. They kept going up and up and up. Lovely relaxed area. Free to park and walk in. Easy walks within although there were more challenging trails for those with time and energy. You could drive in but that cost money and there was a nice little souvenier shop/visitors centre at the entrance. We spent 2-3 hours here but could have seen some sights in less than half an hour or had an entire day.
I wasn't too interested in stopping by this place but I thought I'd give it a chance. I should have followed my immediate instincts. This place is owned by the actor, Raymond Burr, who has been in some television shows such as Perry Mason and Ironside. The wine is mediocre. There is so much better wine in this region that unless you want to check out all the Raymond Burr memorabilia, you should skip this one.
Opened Daily 11am-5pm
Kendall Jackson consistantly makes great wine. But sometimes you can't get those special varietals in your local supermarket so it's worthwhile to check out the tasting room. I know I've said this before but I'll post it again here because it's relative - we usually just drink red wine. But in this tasting room we sampled some Grand Reserve Chardonnay and you know what? It was fantastic! Bought a couple bottles. I plan to give a bottle to my boss for his next birthday. He likes the Chardonnays and I'm sure he'll be pleased with this one.
Open daily 10am to 5pm in Healdsburg Square.
The setting is not too idyllic like some of the wineries in this area. And if you run out of ideas on where to stop, then stop here. The wine is okay. I wouldn't buy it to haul home as it's available in our local grocery and wine stores.
Opened daily 10:30am-4:30pm.
What can I say, elegant tasting room but nothing special about their wines. We even tasted a Pinot Reserve that just didn't do anything for us. I like that you can select your own wine flight for the cost of the tasting. But other than that I would have prefered to have something else. So, you're in Healdsburg Square - go to Souverain's, La Crema's and Rosemblum Celler's tasting rooms instead.
Opened daily 11am-7pm Healdsburg Square.
This is one of my all time favorite wines. The La Crema Pinot Noir is just that good for an excellent price. You can usually find it anywhere for $20. But, I especially enjoy finding it for less. I've paid as little as $15 a bottle at times. You will not always get your best price at the winery itself so make sure to shop around if it's available in a grocery or wine store. We didn't stop by La Crema on this visit but we have in the past.
Opened daily 10:30am-5:30pm in Healdsburg Square.
This is a wine you can find in your grocery store most of the time. It's always very good with an affordable price. But...as I've said before, you have to go to the wineries if you want to try some of the varietals that are not sold in the stores due to low production levels. We tasted quite a few wines in their tasting room but one just really stuck out for me and I bought 1/2 a case of it to bring home. It was their Aparicio Vineyard Zinfandel for $20 a bottle. A really good deal, I thought. On this particular evening of our visit (during an open house celebration), they were giving food samples of a lamb stew. I'm not fond of lamb but this was very delicious (not gamey). Not sure if this is a common practice in the tasting room but definitely worth checking out.
Opened daily 10am-6pm in Healdsburg Square.
This wine is sold in most grocery or wine stores. But sometimes, you just have to go to the tasting rooms because not all varietals will be available in the stores. Souverain has some great wines. We're sorta partial to reds but they have a great Chardonnay and Voignier. My boyfriend enjoyed the port which comes in a 750ml bottle unlike most ports that come in a smaller bottle. They give pretty good discounts when you purchase in larger quantities so that's always a plus. Healdsburg Square was a handful of tasting rooms so make sure to make the most of your visit and check them all out. Some of my favorites are La Crema and Rosemblum Cellars.
Opened daily 11am-6pm located in Healdsburg Square.
Pronounced Sah-brah-je-ah. The winery is modern with a fairly large store. They had quite a few items for sale ranging from wine paraphernalia to dishes, linens, food, wine country prints, etc. The wines were okay but nothing that tickled our fancy. Did I mention we are sorta wine snobs (ha!ha!). Living in California has it's benefits as we have access to some fantastic wines at affordable prices.
Tasting hours are Daily 11am-5pm and tours are available by appointment.
This is a very picturesque winery. The grounds are meticulously manicured. They provide two wine tastings at different prices. One as you walk into the main building has several retail items for sale as well. The other for their more expensive wines down in a basement area with an awesome view of the casks. Ferrari-Carano (not related to the Italian automobile) family makes money from owning hotels and casinos all around the world. Their vision was to attract guests to their hotels with great amenities and food. The winery (we were told) is more of a "hobby" rather than a business venture. The wines are a little pricier than most. My boss and his wife like their Chardonnay. For the price, I think we found some better wines in the area. But, you should see this place. It is definitely spectacular!
Open daily 10am - 5pm.
As we followed the scenic country road from Healdsburg to Guerneville, clusters of trees and fields of grapevines passed by our window.
Signs announcing wine-tastings, sat like little soldiers at the end of long driveways. We stopped in front of one: 'Armida Winery, Tasting 11-5' , then ventured up the drive....
The grounds are very pretty with ponds and view of the valley (picture 3). There is a deck area for picnics and even a bocce ball court!
Since we wanted to visit Korbel's tasting room before 5pm, we had to keep our visit short, so after a quick look around, we continued on our way.
You might be interested to know that they recently received awards for three of their wines at the 2007 Los Angeles Wine and Spirits Competition:
2005 Maple Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley--Platinum Award, Double Gold and Best of Class
2005 Poizin, Sonoma County--Gold Medal
2005 Il Campo, Estate Blend, Dry Creek Valley--Gold Medal
FYI: According to Armida's website, they were "voted the #1 tasting room in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties by readers of the NorthBay Biz."
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