Category Archives: Travel

Kistler Vineyards, Sonoma Wine Country

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY to visit this winery!

kistler1  Kistler Vineyards was never open their tasting room for decades until recently.  Can you imagine that their wine club members  and fans around the world can only drink the wines they purchase but couldn’t taste it before until now.

Once you RSVP, they will tell you the instruction how to get here with a gated property.

Trenton Roadhouse
7095 Trenton-Healdsburg Road
Forestville, CA 95436

Opens TUE-SAT, by appointment only at 10:30 AM and 2 PM only per day.

kistler2  A gorgeous cottage like next to their 2 vineyards on the property, a barn, a pond, and a gorgeous view from their second floor.

A newly remodeled and beautiful tasting room where you can be amazed, along with their award winning wines for decades.

Brooked was greeted us nicely as we pulled in. She has the brightest smile, model like figure, dressed stylishly, of course because she kistler4moved here from New York. I, on the other hand, totally over-dressed in my short and tank top gym clothes! I was embarrassed 🙂 Too much diking and eating the night before I just wanted to running around the vineyard to burn the calories, so my thought! Until Brooke poured us some of the best Burgundian style wines, I’d rather chilled and enjoyed it.

kistler7 She explained and walked us through the soils, “it’s all about the terroir” and that’s what Kistler Vineyards is all about. “If the Kistler Winery could be magically transported to the middle of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, it would quickly gain a reputation as glorious as any producer of Burgundy grand crus.”  Robert Parker said.

Brooke is also a sommelier from New York with a Southern accent. kistler6She’s vibrant, fun, and passionate about the program that Kistler is doing now with this brand new tasting room at the Trenton Roadhouse. She involved us in the tour that makes it so much more fun, very informative and educational. She also allowed us to taste side-by-side of the 3 chardonnays, so we could compare notes. That’s the best way to learn about the terroir and what you like. My friends and I had an awesome time here.

Both their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are crafted utilizing classic Burgundian techniques. Kistler wines are produced solely by native yeasts. Their barrels are crafted from French oak that is aged to specifications and specifically tailored to their program. All of their wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. All of the sites are planted to the same clone, a California heritage selection that they have been kistler3using for 3 decades, imagine that.

Their wines are always sold out and source after, to get their wines, you got to be on the mailing list. They don’t even have library wines, because they sold out after every vintage release.

They offer 2 tasting options:

4 wines: 3 Chardonnay + 1 Pinot Noir  for $75 per person

7 wines: 5 Chardonnay + 2 Pinot Noir for $150 per person

kistler9  I know it seems pricey for wines tasting in Sonoma, but remember this is not they typical Chardonnay and Pinot Noir you normally drink, this wine is source after, some of the best ever.

Think of old world style wines. If you want a buttery style chardonnay, this is NOT for you.

Burgundy style Chardonnay displays less fruit and more earth and mineral notes. They are powerful and rich, with complex kistler5fruit flavors and notes of earth and minerals. The wines expess more of the terroir, where it comes from. If you like me, you wold enjoy Kistler Chardonnay tremendously.

Kistler Vineyards at Trenton Roadhouse should be on top of your list to visit if you are a white Burgundy lover/collector.

Website: www.kistlervineyards.com

by Manda Bear @1MandaBear

 

The Donum Estate, Sonoma Wine Country

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY to visit this winery!

donum9  The Donum Estate is tuck in the quiet side of Sonoma, you wouldn’t know about it because even Yelp doesn’t have much information about it.  Beautiful vineyard, a barn with chickens running out, some beautiful art works, and a beautiful tasting room.

donum3  Anne Moller-Racke the President and Winegrower of Donum Estate came to California in the early eighties and became vineyard manager for the oldest winery for Buena Vista Carneros Winery in 1983. Then 2001 she took over The Donum Estate project.  She has truly become a wine grower, sheparding the grapes from vine to bottle. As president, Moller-Racke’s management style inspires a
donum2committed team to work with the utmost pride and care on the ultimate Pinot Noir project. Under her leading and the winemakers here, they produce award winning and outstanding Pinot Noir wines earning over 91-95 points by Wine Spectator and Robert Parker.

donum10  They produce only single-vineyard, estate wines from vineyards in Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley. Vintage 2012, they got 7 wines from 91-95, now that’s an amazing record.

3 of their Pinots – Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley – carry appellations names while the others come from their most prized sites or are a small barrel selection. An estate Carneros Chardonnay completes their donum8Burgundian portfolio.

The Donum Estate is right next to the Stemler Vineyard, doesn’t open to the public, appointment only. We came in and Maggie was the one who hosted us. She was very nice and walked us through the wines, explain anything we asked thoroughly.

If you are a Pinot Noir fan, a Burgundian style, come here, you would enjoy it very much.

donum1  They offer 2 wine clubs that you find more information here:  thedonumestate.com

1 of my favorite and the best Pinot Noir Burgundian style from Sonoma.

by Manda Bear @1MandaBear

Stone Edge Farm Winery, Sonoma Wine Country

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY to visit this winery

Stone Edge Farm Winery has a few location, but the only one you stoneedge1will be visit is not the one that the address listed here on Yelp. Their official tasting room is located here:

The Silver Cloud Vineyard

5700 Cavedale Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

It’s bout 30 minutes from the Square in Sonoma, if you are coming from Silicon Valley and using WAZE GPS, it’s most likely will take you pass Yountville on highway 29, drive through the mountain, a serious stiff drive, think of HWY 1 and Santa Cruz HWY 17 combine, and 1 lane with 2 ways traffic, we drove up in our little Prius C, we got a little anxiety by the time we arrived.

stoneedge2  However, it’s the landscape that glistens at this 160-acre property, had been remodeled and expanding plans in place. It’s such a beautiful place, peaceful, and charming,  It’s also linked to one of America’s most famous adventurers Jack London. Silver Cloud Vineyard is surely a hidden gem of Sonoma Valley history.

stoneedge7  The property is set on the eastern slope of Mount Vedeer above Sonoma Valley, about 5 miles from Glen Ellen downtown.

They only offer a few appointment per day. If you got lucky enough to get in, either Frenchman Philippe or Sonoma local Dorothe will host you. They are both simply the best of what they do. We got Dorothe this time. She is beautiful, humbled, warm and made us feel as we were VIP.

She toured us the property, explained everything and since she came on board 4 years ago, Stone Edge Farm Winery produced only 1 red, stoneedge5now in 2015, they produced multiple red, specializes in BORDEAUX blend, and a bright and crisp Sauvignon Blanc. We heard that they also plan to produce white Bordeaux with Semillon varietal in the near future, this is a fantastic news, because we don’t see it much here in the Sonoma Wine Country.

I enjoyed the 2010 Stone Edge Farm Surround Bordeaux Blend Sonoma Valley, 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 1% Malbec, 22 months in tight-grained 225 liter French oak barrels, 60% new. Winemaker Jeff Baker surely knows what he is dong and he has been master his craft for many decades here.

donum6  This full bodied Bordeaux Blend has aromas of cassis, black pepper, coffee, and a hint of dark chocolate. The flavors are lively and focused with powerful layers of black plum, cherry, and tobacco. It is deep red in color, with soft rich tannins, and a persistent finish. For only $55 per bottle, this is probably 1 of the best CAB Bordeaux style that you can ever have. A beautiful, voluptuous wine that you don’t have to break your bank like typical Napa Valley Cab.

The Stone Edge Farm Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 months in French oak barrels, this is some of the longest barrel that I’ve heard. Think of Barolo in Italy for 35 months barrel aging, and even with this long, their current release vintage 2010 is only $85. This wine is cellar worthy for you collectors out there. Their 2009 vintage got 96 points from Robert Parker.

stoneedge3  Don’t forget to check out their beautiful award winning cookbook by chef John McReynolds, the book contains more than a hundred recipes. It also includes essays on gardening by Colby Eierman, a winemaking essay by Jeff Baker, and a vineyard essay and poem by our viticulturist, Phil Coturri. The book concludes with a lively extended conversation on pairing food and wine among McReynolds, Baker, and our proprietor, Mac McQuown.

Sitting on the deck wines tasting, with cheese and charcuteri to snack on, looking at this gorgeous vineyard and a breathtaking view on a lazy afternoon in March at 75 degree, with cool breeze, this wine country living can’t get better than this.

stoneedge5  Thank you Dorothe for an impeccable service. She’s 1 of the reasons why I love wines. She shares with us beautiful story about this winery. She has so much passion for what she does and it shows. We would come back to visit soon even with this rough drive to the wood, just to to visit her, and of course, the delicious wines too!

Stone Edge Farm Winery at Silver Cloud Vineyard is absolutely worth the drive. A must visit if you are in Sonoma County, please plan extra 30 minutes on driving just in case you get lost.
Absolutely NO CELL SERVICE when you drive through the wood, so pay attention to the road.

Website info for their wine clubs: stoneedgefarm.com
Follow them on Twitter: twitter.com/stoneedgefarm

by Manda Bear @1MandaBear

Regale Winery & Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains, Silicon Valley, California

I can’t believe that living in the Bay Area for this long and I P1030332
haven’t been here to Regale Winery and Vineyards at all. Even the winery is in Los Gatos, but it’s actually deep inside the Santa Cruz Mountains, just a short drive of 10 minutes from downtown Los Gatos and 20 minutes from downtown San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley.

The Tasting Room Open to the Public Saturday and Sunday from Noon-5 PM by appointment only, but Regale Winery and Vineyards are strictly for  members only and during the week, they often rent out for corporate events and weddings.

Regale Winery and Vineyards is so beautiful with gorgeous Italian IMG_2832inspired landscape, garden, water fountain, and a breathtaking view of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the vineyards. It’s peaceful, tranquil, and romantic. I can see why it’s such a great place for a wedding.  A spiral herb garden, outdoor fireplaces, a bocce ball court, and a traditional wood-fired oven. Three varieties of olive trees line the property from which they hand-pick and press the olives to produce their Estate Olive Oil. Wait till Summer, when they harvest their tomatoes, it’s so much fun to be here.

We were lucky enough to get to meet the winemaker Larry Schaadt and his brother, the men behind this operation. He makes wines with a passion, besides their vineyards, the winemaker sources the grapes from all over Sonoma to Napa Valley to make his wines and bottling it here at the winery.

The winemaker is such a charmer, with a warm personality, and IMG_2827beautiful blue eyes. (OK, so that got nothing to do with wines, but you know what I mean.) He and his brother were so gracious chatting up with us and sharing with us their story behind the winery.

Instead of tasting a selection of 5 wines limited productions, we got to try a few more rare wines, never before seen; from Pinot Noir from different appellation to Cabernet Sauvignon, to sparkling wine. Everything was delicious.

On our third visit, we got to try the new release 2013 Regale regale-cabRussian River Valley Pinot Noir which was quite nice and the Super Tuscan.  You can do tasting flights here or you can order a bottle of wine on the menu to share with your group. They focus on Pinot Noir and Cabernet, but they also feature limited-production Italian varietals such as Sangiovese and Barbera as well as their popular Chardonnay.  It’s a perfect way to spend a beautiful weekend afternoon with your friends and loved ones.

My friends and I enjoyed our visit and the hospitality of the staff there from beginning to finish.

They also offer the wine club members with a lot of benefits you can find more details on their website:

P1030367Wine Benefits
* Bi-Monthly shipments of 2 or 4 bottles
* Generous discounts on wine purchases
* Access to limited production member-only wines
* Free tasting for you and your guest(s)
* Membership privileges at their new Regale Wine Bar which is Rendezvous in Campbell, CA opened in late 2014.

Event Benefits
* Private member-only events for you and your guests
* Generous discounts on special events
* Special discounts on private events at Regale Winery and Wine Bar

IMG_2828Exclusive Estate Privileges
* Members-only wine tasting lounge
* Priority reserved seating
* Priority access to bocce, patios and terrace areas

Spa Privileges
* 15% Off spa services at The Spa ~ Los Gatos, Monday – Friday

I love the space and the gorgeous garden they offer, from the balcony of the second floor, you can enjoy the peaceful but breathtaking view of the mountains.  The wines are good and also very reasonable in price. Regale Winery and Vineyards is such a great place to throw a party, wedding, or corporate events.

Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/regalewinery

Regale Winery and Vineyards
http://regalewine.com
24040 Summit Road
Los Gatos, CA 95033
events@regalewine.com
wineclub@regalewine.com
Phone: (408) 353-2500

by Manda Bear – @1MandaBear