Winter Wineland Weekend in Sonoma County

Winter Wineland Weekend– 20th Anniversary 

In January Larry and I had the opportunity to enjoy the Winter Wineland weekend put together by the Wineroad organization up in Sonoma County.  In general the wineries that participate in this weekend are in the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys.  The weekend’s theme is Wine Art, Education or Display.  We only had Saturday available to attend so we made the best of it.

We started in downtown Santa Rosa.  We picked up our glass at Lost Canyon in the Railroad Square.  It is a small but nice tasting room, which is attached to a wine bar.  It’s in a great location if you are in the mood to walk around town. 

Afterwards we drove about 2 miles and went to the Vintners Square, which is an area with three different wine tasting rooms plus the Wineyard which houses a number of different small wineries.  Some of the wineries located at the Vintners Square are:  D’Argenzio Winery, Sheldon Wines, Krutz Family Cellars and MJ Lords Wine Cellars.  We started at the Wineyard and tasted wines from Santa Rosa Community College and Jazz Cellars.  The wines were good and they had delicious chocolate samples to taste with the red wine.  I really like the decor there, they have some really nice artifacts.  We walked a few steps and went into the building where Sheldon Wines and Krutz Family Cellars share a tasting room. It was very crowded and we weren’t received with any warm feelings.  The wine was o.k. I probably should go back on a weekend when it isn’t a special weekend and give them another chance.  We walked next door to D’Argenzio Winery.  We were greeted with smiles and wine instantly.  Both the father and daughter were there pouring the wines and talking to all the guests.  The feeling of the tasting room is of Italy.  The bar goes from the front of the house to the back of the house.  In the back of the house they have tables and chairs with red and white tablecloths.  If you go into the backyard they have a bocce ball court and a fire pit with some chairs to sit and enjoy.  The wine was very good.  We tried their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Zinfandel.  The highlight was their Super Tuscany blend.  The have a special tasting on Thursday nights where they have a food truck and a live band. 

After “doing” Santa Rosa we took off north to Dry Creek Valley and went to Sbragia Family.  This is way north near Lake Sonoma.  They have a very large tasting room with a large bar.  You don’t feel cramped inside.  If the weather is nice then you need to out to their deck.  They have a number of tables and chairs overlooking their incredible view.  They were serving their Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet and Merlot.  This day they had a number of vendors with their artwork for sale.  I bought a purse, orange on the outside and zebra striped on the inside.  Pretty wild!

Views from Sbragia

After Sbragia we drove to Lake Sonoma (3 minutes away) and took some pictures of the lake, a bridge and the dam.  It was a beautiful day out, blue skies everywhere.  We sat there and ate our sandwiches we had purchased for lunch.

Lake Sonoma

We then drove 20 minutes west into the mountains to Gustafson Family Vineyard.  They are 1800 feet above sea level.  They were pairing their wines with foods by Baci Restaurant.  We started with their Rose of Syrah in the tasting room.  We then moved on to the beautiful deck and had their Sauvignon Blanc, which was paired with a beet and blue cheese salad.  Then they poured their Zinfandel and served it with soft polenta and short ribs.  We met Emmet their winemaker and Dan Gustafson the owner; they were pouring the wines on the deck. 

Dan Gustafson (left) and Emmet (right)

The tasting room and Dan’s home are one in the same.  The home should be in the Sunset Magazine!  It is so beautiful!  The views from the deck were amazing!  We could see forever.  After we had the wines that were served on the deck, we walked around the back of the house to a path that took us to an oak grove.  In the grove were a few picnic tables and benches.  Here you have yet a different view of the east and Sonoma Lake.  We didn’t want to leave, as it was so beautiful and relaxing.  On our way out we tried their Cabernet Sauvignon that they were pairing with brownie bites.  One word “yummy”!

Dan Gustafson’s Home/Winery/Tasting Room

We thought that we were done, but on our way back to the kid’s house in Santa Rosa we stopped at one more winery that was on Dry Creek Road.  The winery was called Talty Vineyards.  Michael Talty came over and poured our wines for us.  His wines were all estate Zinfandel and very good.  Another wine that they were pouring there was from MacLarenMacLaren only produces Syrah’s.  They served us at our own private oak barrel (empty of course).  This was a clever idea especially if they know that it’s going to be a busy weekend.

These last two were not taking part in the Winter Wineland weekend but they were still open.  We were really done for the day and probably shouldn’t have stopped here but we were glad we did.   I liked the vibe at this tasting room.  I want to go back on a quieter weekend.

We had a great day, went back to the kids house to watch the last 10 minutes of the 49er vs. Saints game, which they won.  It was very exciting.  Another Winter Wineland Weekend in the books.

I love going to the wineries in the winter as it is in general very quiet, you usually can meet the owner and or winemaker and have a nice discussion with them.  Some of the wines are freshly bottled and just released.  Can’t wait to go again next year.  We covered a lot of ground on this day and all the wineries we went to were new to us except Jazz Cellars, which we have tasted at a few industry events.

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  1. Pingback: Tasting in North Dry Creek Valley; Harvest is Coming | Wine Region Travels With Lori

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