Posts tagged vineyards

Wine Tasting in Sonoma: Bartholomew Park Winery

Sonoma Landscape

 

Days before our olive oil and wine tastings in Paso Robles, and way before that lunch at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, we spent a day wine tasting in Sonoma with Jim’s parents. Our West Coast trip had begun in San Jose, where we had all convened to celebrate the holidays with my sister-in-law and her family. But somehow, even after two days of wonderful food and wine, we still had room for more. So the day after Christmas we hopped in our rental car and drove out to wine country.

After a two-hour, sometimes-scenic drive, we made our first stop at Sebastiani Winery and its impressive tasting room near the center of town. But then we drove down a rustic, tree-lined road to Bartholomew Park.

With its gorgeous grounds, simple tasting room, and knowledgeable staff, Bartholomew Park Winery won us over even before we tried their 2004 Kaspar Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. But peppers sealed the deal. After smelling this wine, I expected fresh green peppers to come pouring out of the bottle–the aroma was that strong. Their flavor in the wine was more subtle but surprisingly enjoyable.

Bartholomew Park’s property has quite an eclectic history. It’s all on their website, but it’s interesting to know that for a period of time starting in 1920 the land hosted a State Farm for Delinquent Women, housing prostitutes, drug addicts, and “wild women.” Long after this excitement (and much more), Bartholomew Park Winery was officially founded by the Bundschu family in 1994. They focus on small batches of handcrafted wines, all of which are available only at the winery and through their wine club.

We did some more driving and wine tasting that day, even going all the way up to Healdsburg to explore their wineries. But we kept talking and thinking about Bartholomew Park. It was those peppers; we just couldn’t forget those peppers.

Bartholomew Park Winery, 1000 Vineyard Lane, Sonoma T: 707-935-9511

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Wine Tasting in Paso Robles

The winding roads, sun-stroked hills, and draping tree branches of Paso Robles, California, were just as I remembered from our first visit a year and a half ago. I relaxed in the car’s passenger seat, taking in the scene while Jim navigated us around one of our now-favorite destinations. But in addition to viewing the area’s natural beauty, we had another agenda for our trip: wine tasting.

Paso Robles Landscape

 

Paso Robles’s warm days and cool nights encourage the production of a wide variety of excellent wines, including Cabernet, Syrah, Viognier, and of course Zinfandel. (We’re not big fans of Zin, but the area is very well-known for them.) As the reputation of the local wines has grown, so has the number of wineries dotting the landscape. During our first trip we explored several of Paso’s family-owned vineyards and chatted with their friendly, passionate winemakers. This year we returned to visit old favorites as well as wineries we missed the first time around. Here are some of the standouts, all of which produce both red and white wines:

Adelaida Cellars: As soon as we arrived in Paso we drove straight to Adelaida. Their vines grow in the limestone soil of the Santa Lucia Mountains, imbuing Adelaida’s vintages with bold flavors and minerality; the winery is actually located at an elevation of 1,800 feet. Picnic tables overlooking the panorama supply the perfect spot for outdoor tastings. Upon entering the small, unassuming tasting room, we were happy to see staff members we met during our first visit. Favorites from our tasting included the Viognier Glenrose Vineyard from 2005, a tart, clean white wine with hints of grapefruit, and the fruity Rhône Style Red from 2004. 5805 Adelaida Road T: 800-676-1232

Hansen Vineyards: A leisurely scenic drive towards Templeton led us to Hansen Vineyards, where the gregarious owner was holding court in the rustic tasting room. We had arrived on a lark, looking to buy a bottle of wine for a friend with the same last name as the winery, but we wound up being pleasantly surprised by Hansen’s strong, peppery Cabernet Sauvignons. After a lively discussion with the owner over which vintage we preferred, Jim selected the 2004. We ended our visit with a picnic lunch in the winery’s sunny yard, and then moved on to our next stop. 5575 El Pomar Drive, Templeton T: 805-226-9023

Maloy O’Neill Vineyards in Paso Robles

 

Maloy O’Neill Vineyards: We visited this small, family-owned vineyard after several disappointing stops at larger wineries along busy route 46E. While Maloy O’Neill has been growing grapes since 1980, the actual winery has been open for only 2 years. Concentrating on handcrafted quality, Maloy O’Neill sells 35 different wines, mostly blends, and makes very small quantities of about 200 cases each. Most can only be bought at the winery or through their wine club. Among the many interesting wines on their list were a 2004 Malbec, an unusual wine varietal for Paso Robles, and the 2005 Enzo, which utilizes a grape called Lagrein, originally found in Northern Italy. 5725 Union Road T: 805-238-7320

Tablas Creek Vineyard: Robert Haas partnered with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel in France to create Tablas Creek, one of Paso Robles’s best-known wineries. It specializes in estate-grown, Rhône style blends, focusing on the Châteauneuf-du-Pape style. During our first visit to Tablas Creek a year and a half ago I discovered my love for Mourvèdre. Mourvèdre is a meaty, fruity grape often used in blends with other grapes such as Grenache and Syrah. And even though Tablas Creek uses it often in their blended wines, they also produce a 100% Mourvèdre, which I especially enjoy. 9339 Adelaida Road T: 805-238-2083

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