The January blues can be averted with a journey to Winter WINEland, the ultimate winter wine break.
Winter Wine Break
The Wine Road’s Winter WINEland is held January 13-14, 2018, which is also a three-day weekend. Take Friday off and spend a long weekend in northern Sonoma County for the perfect winter escape.
The theme for Winter WINEland is Vintages, Varietals, and Verticals, with each participating winery showcasing one of these categories. But, there is also more going on than just wine. The program gives details of the focus of each winery, and here are a few highlights to give you a jump-start on the long list.
There are two new Wine Road Members participating in Winter WINEland 2018.
Friedeman Wines is located in the Barlow in Sebastopol, just a short walk from MacPhail Wines, who is also participating. Friedeman Wines has been making wine for a few years now, but opened their tasting room in 2017. On a recent visit to their tasting room, I was thrilled at the quality of the wine and the gracious and knowledgeable staff.
For Winter WINEland, the folks at Friedeman are pouring a vertical of their 2104, ’15 and ’16 UV Lancel Creek Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. I’ve tried the 2014 and 2015 vintages, and can recommend you make this a stop on your travels if you love Pinot Noir. They plan to also have some library wines available to taste.
Leo Steen Wines is the other new member, located on Front Street in Healdsburg. Leo Hansen, longtime winemaker at Stuhlmuller Vineyards (another Wine Road member), only recently opened his own tasting room featuring his wines. For Winter WINEland, the tasting room will focus on showing how growing the same grape in different regions can impart different flavors and nuances to the wine. Try a Chenin Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, Mendocino, and Santa Ynez Valley, plus they’ll be pouring their Grenache and Cabernet Franc.
Although some wineries like Pech Merle and Porter Creek will be embracing a winter theme, others will be offering an escape from winter. J. Rickards asks, “Who doesn’t love Hawaii in January?” They’ll be transporting visitor to a virtual island paradise where they’ll pour their current release wines. Get your hula on!
Hot Havana Nights await visitors at Mutt Lynch at the Tasting Room on the Green in Windsor. Their description reads, “Enjoy Buena Vista Social Club Cuban music, authentic Cubano sandwiches, and amazing Sonoma County Primitivo and Zinfandel red wine.” Sounds like a great way to forget that it is January!
Want to Tailgate?
If you need a football fix amid a weekend of wine tasting, we have that covered too! David Coffaro Vineyard & Winery is offering up wine, food, and football all weekend long, with the football coming at you via their new, and even bigger projector screen. Having seen the old projector screen, I can’t wait to see the new, improved version. Nothing like football, snacks, and wine.
Simi Winery has “FOOTBALL on our 92-inch screen along with winery chef Kolin’s favorite Super Bowl snacks.” It might not be the Super Bowl just yet, but we are always ready to enjoy some football-friendly food.
Music, Food & More
In perusing the Winter WINEland program, I discovered several wineries offering food pairings. Although this isn’t a food event, if you enjoy food pairings, here is one opportunity you might not want to miss.
Occidental Road Cellars is pairing a vertical of their Estate Pinot Noir with Dungeness Crab Fondue. This off the beaten path winery on the north edge of Sebastopol produces delicious wines, so if you haven’t ventured through their door before, maybe the lure of Dungeness Crab Fondue and Pinot will entice you.
There are many other wineries that will be serving small bites or food pairings, so be sure to review the program carefully.
Live music will entertain you sip by sip at Carol Shelton Wines in Santa Rosa, and Selby Winery and Stephan Walker in Healdsburg. Alexander Valley Vineyards is offering a cave tour Saturday at 4 p.m., plus will have small bites and wine trivia for their guests. At Zichichi Family Vineyard and Christopher Creek you can get a sneak peak of future wines with their barrel tasting samples.
If the holidays hit your bank account a little too hard, several wineries will be offering specials on wines. Here are a few: Sonoma Cutrer, Topel Winery, Cast Wines, Geyser Peak, Merriam Vineyards, Notre Vue Estate Winery & Vineyards, and Old World Winery.
Verticals, Varietals & Vintages
The theme for this ultimate winter wine break is Verticals, Varietals, and Vintages. Each participating winery has selected one of these categories as their focus. But what does this mean?
Vintage refers to the year the grapes were harvested and the wine was made. So if a winery is signed up for Vintages, you might expect they to be pouring all one vintage. Viszlay Vineyards will be featuring their 2013 wines. Trione Vineyards & Winery is also focusing on Vintages, but they have carefully selected older vintages from their library cellar to pair with a chef-prepared hearty soup. Trione also will have discounted wines and shipping specials.
Varietal refers to a wine being made from a specific variety of grape, like Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Grenache, or Merlot. When more than one grape variety comprises a wine, it is often referred to as a blend unless there is one dominant varietal, and the other varietals were added in very small amounts. Wine Guerrilla is focusing on Zinfandel as their varietal, while Soda Rock Winery is offering flights of their Bordeaux varietals, which could includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec or Petit Verdot—the five recognized Bordeaux varietals. Sanglier Cellars is serving their French-inspired Pinot Noirs as their Varietal focus.
Last but never least is Vertical. A wine vertical refers to the same wine from multiple successive vintages. A great example is the vertical tasting Peterson Winery is treating Winter WINEland attendees to, six vintages of their Bradford Mountain Gravity Flow Block Syrah. I’ve tasted this mountain-grown Syrah before, and it is definitely worth the visit. Peterson will also be offering barrel samples of their Rosé, and according to the program, if you like it, you can bottle it and take some with you!
Many of the wineries are offering verticals on varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah from multiple vintages. (I was able to use all three V-words in one sentence!) Be sure to check out the program to enjoy a rare opportunity to taste multiple vintages of the same wine.
So don’t hibernate this January. Get out in enjoy a wonderful wine-filled weekend along the Wine Road!
Tickets are available at the Wine Road website. Winter WINEland tickets also make a great holiday gift for every wine lover on your gift list, even that person is you.
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