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Meeker Vineyard You

Award-winning Cab, Pinot, Zin, Cab Franc, Syrah and Petite Sirah. Their tasting room is located in Sonoma on the Plaza. 481 First St. W., Sonoma. 707.939.9099.

might expect Meeker to be more slicked-out, what with its big-time Hollywood origins (co-owner Charlie Meeker is a former movie executive). But that’s clearly not the case. 21035 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville. Open Monday–Saturday, 10:30am– 6pm; Sunday, noon–5pm. 707.431.2148.

Arnot-Roberts Some

Siduri Winery A Pinot-

Adobe Road Winery

fresh pepper on that Syrah? Duo of chums craft spicy, savory lower-alcohol wines from cool climates in funky backstreet cellar. 6450 First St., Forestville. By appointment only. 707.820.1383.

Cellar No. 8 Historic Italian Swiss Colony at Asti revived as a rechristened timecapsule. Original woodwork, motifs, mementos and the marble wino carving are not to be missed; tasting-room only Sonoma County Zin and Petite Sirah have gobs of oldfashioned flavor. 26150 Asti Post Office Road, Cloverdale. Open daily, 10am–5pm. Tasting fee, $5. 866.557.4970. Eric Ross Winery Just friendly folks pouring Pinot, Zin and Marsanne-Roussane; don’t ask about the rooster. Ask about the rooster. 14300 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. Thursday-Monday 11am– 5pm.707.939.8525. Hauck Cellars Peach-tree state wine fans on a mission to be the “best Bordeaux house in Sonoma County” doing fine so far. Tin-roofed, 1948 Quonset hut off the plaza sports a long bar with plenty of elbow room. 223 Center St., Healdsburg. Friday–Tuesday, 11:30am–5pm; until 7pm, Friday–Saturday. $10 fee; one taste free. 707.473.9065. Kendall-Jackson K-J produces the popular wines gracing most American tables. Amazing gardens, and great place to explore food and wine pairings. 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton. Open daily, 10am– 5pm. 707.571.8100.

heavy slate. 980 Airway Court, Ste. C, Santa Rosa. By appointment. 707.578.3882.

Simi Winery Pioneered female winemaking by hiring the first female winemaker in the industry. The tastingroom experience is mediocre, but the wine is fantastic and worth the wait. Excellent Chard, Sauvignon Blanc and Cab. 16275 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. Open daily, 10am–5pm. 707.473.3213. Thomas George Estates Pinot pioneer Davis

of solid varietal wines, plus library selections of flagship Georges de Latour Cab back to 1970. 1960 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford. Daily, 10am–5pm. Tastings $15–$20; Reserve Room, $35. 707.967.5233.

Casa Nuestra Winery Endearingly offbeat, with a dedicated staff and a collection of goats and dogs roaming freely. 3451 Silverado Trail N., St. Helena. Open daily, 10am– 5pm. 707.963.5783.

Chateau Boswell Winery (WC) This small, boutique winery is open by appointment only, selling most its wine directly via post to club members. 3468 Silverado Trail, Napa. 707.963.5472.

Monticello Vineyards Thomas Jefferson had no success growing wine grapes; happily, the Corley family has made a go of it. Although winetasting is not conducted in the handsome reproduction building itself, there’s a shaded picnic area adjacent. 4242 Big Ranch Rd., Napa. Open daily, 10am–4:30pm. $15. 707.253.2802, ext. 18.

Bynum hung up the hose clamp and sold his estate, but the good wine still flows in remodeled tasting room featuring a long bar and vineyard videos. Russian River Chard, Pinot and Zin; sweet berry flavors and long-lasting finishes. Caves completed for tours in 2010. 8075 Westside Road, Healdsburg. 11am–5pm, daily. Tasting fee, $5. 707.431.8031.

estate-grown Cabs are among the most highly regarded in the world. 5766 Silverado Trail, Napa. By appointment. 707.944.2020.

Toad Hollow A humorous,

Vincent Arroyo Winery

frog-themed tasting room begun by Robin Williams’ brother Todd Williams and Rodney Strong, both now passed. Refreshing and fun. 409-A Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. Open daily, 10:30am–5:30(ish)pm. 707.431.8667.

Small, tasting room is essentially a barn with a table near some barrels, but very friendly, with good wines. 2361 Greenwood Ave., Calistoga. Open daily, 10am– 4:30pm. 707.942.6995.

N A PA CO U N TY Beaulieu Vineyard History in a glassful of dust– Rutherford dust. Somethingfor-everyone smorgasbord

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (WC) Their three

The Wine Garage Defunct filling station with a mandate: No wines over $25. Well chosen from Napa Valley and beyond, plus half-gallon house jugs for $29.99. 1020-C Foothill Blvd., Calistoga. Monday–Saturday 11am–6:30pm; Sunday to 4:30pm. Tasting fee $5–$10. 707.942.5332.

Talisman Wine


hat does it take to make wine? A lot of beer, chuckle the home winemakers. More realistically, a lot of money, while for industry veterans like Scott and Marta Rich of Talisman, it takes years of experience and wellcultivated relationships with growers and mentors. But all can agree on one thing: it takes a lot of water.

When considering the whole process through bottling, wine lags just behind coffee as a water-hog, as any winery intern can attest to, having been instructed to wash a few errant grapes off the crush pad with a never-ending jet of water. So when Sonoma’s Eighth Street Wineries gathered to discuss adding a social-benefit factor to their biannual open house, water came to the top of the list. “Wine is the polar opposite of water,” says organizer Amy Tsaykel of Tin Barn Vineyards. “Wine is a luxury, while water is a necessity for life.” (Perhaps some would disagree with the severity of that dichotomy.) An intern at Tin Barn happened to have spent the past two years in the Peace Corps and helped direct them to a reputable water charity, While the funds that the nine wineries raise from 10 percent of online ticket sales might not go far locally, in areas where some 900 million people lack access to safe water, it will go a lot further. Talisman occupies one efficiently organized space in this warehouse complex, specifically built with winery needs in mind. Scott Rich made his first 200 cases in 1993 while working his first job out of graduate school. Along the way, he was mentored by winemakers Merry Edwards and Tony Soter, but Pinot Noir had made an impression on him since growing up with his father’s Burgundy collection. Now Rich technically qualifies as a flying winemaker—during harvest, anyway, he flies to L.A. to consult a new winery—but he and Marta, who is sales manager for Calera, operate their 1,500-case brand out of a passion for Pinot. (Yeah, that phrase is nominally on my no-fly list, but when it fits, it fits.) The 2008 Gunsalus Vineyard, Green Valley Pinot Noir ($40) has lovely aromas of potpourri, fresh-baked ginger snap, bright red berries and finely textured tannins, while the 2008 Wildcat Vineyard, Los Carneros Pinot Noir ($45) has dark, feral, smoky aromas, and a fleshy palate of black cherry and leather. Don’t miss the taste test between the 2007 Red Dog Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noirs: the brooding Pommard Clone ($46) and the brighter Dijon Clones ($46). Eighth Street Wineries Open House, Saturday, Feb. 25, 11am–4pm. Includes food pairings. $30 online; $35 door. Talisman Wine, 21684 Eighth St., Sonoma. Limited tasting availability, by appointment. 707.996.9050.—James Knight


Most reviews by James Knight. Note: Those listings marked ‘WC’ denote wineries with caves. These wineries are usually only open to the public by appointment. Wineries in these listings appear on a rotating basis.


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