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Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living. - Robert Mondavi

Three Sticks Winery serves up the perfect trifecta: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet

Monday, October 26, 2015
The Experience: Fans of historic Sonoma, Ken Fulk, silky Chards, Cabs and Pinot will delight at the charming, intimate experience offered at Three Sticks Winery. Don’t expect to find a flashy tasting room bar crowded with tourists here. Instead, tastings of the boutique winery are conducted at The Adobe directly off Sonoma Square next to a perennial favorite, El Dorado Kitchen.  The Adobe is easy to miss as you drive past, but once inside, it’s as unforgettable as the wines are delectable.  Renovated by acclaimed interior designer, Ken Fulk, the unique site blends historic artifacts with country-chic decor. The details are everywhere - note the imported Italian chandelier here, a French lantern there, the three sticks logo worked into cowboy-boot print furniture so seamlessly you wouldn’t notice unless pointed out. An integral part of the tasting experience is the tour of the Adobe - with a glass of the bold “Castanada” red Rhone blend in hand - an informative, educational and interesting prelude to the luxe wines to follow.  The abode is humble, yet expertly appointed, consisting of a sitting room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom plus the a beautifully maintained garden for tasting alfresco the warmer season.  A renovated barn near the garden provides a luxuriously private ambiance fit for dining and celebrations.  

After our tour of the property, we were seated to a private tasting at the dining room where the wines had been properly decanted in advance and were also treated to a picturesque display of gourmet snacks and charcuterie which beautifully accompanied the wines.  The leisurely tasting was intimate, the wines exceptional, creating a great balance between rarefied and casual.

The Team:  
“Three Sticks” refers to the three Roman numerals that follow Founder and Principal Bill Price’s written name. He grew up and attended high school in Hawaii where his surfer friends gave him the lasting nickname. Though Bill started as a businessman, spending about 30 years in corporate board rooms, he eventually traded in his successful business career for the life of farming, believing in the importance of leaving the world a better place for generations to come.  Winemaker emeritus, Don Van Staaveren was initially enlisted in the project in 2004. Well-respected in the industry, having been in vineyard management since 1970, Don was chief winemaker and Vice President at Chateau St. Jean and accumulated 36 years of experience making wine, in particular Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma County before helping start Three Sticks Wine program.  Director of Winemaking, Bob Cabral, has decades of experience making wine in Sonoma County and some feel his name is synonymous with great Pinot Noir. Bob’s passion, experience and following for his work with the varietal is second to none.  He’s held roles as associate winemaker at DeLoach Vineyards, custom crush winemaker at Kunde Family Estate, winemaker at Alderbrook Vineyards and winemaker at Hartford Court Winery before taking his seminal position at Williams Selyem.  Bob’s winemaking philosophy has always been to source and farm the best fruit possible, with minimal intervention in the cellar. He was awarded the 2011 Wine Star Award from the Wine Enthusiast as “Winemaker of the Year.”  

The Wines: Three Sticks Wines is one of the few wineries in California succeeding with the trifecta of popular varietals: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The high quality of Three Sticks wines can be attributed to the relatively old vine vineyards farmed by an experienced vineyard manager, the consulting from a veteran winemaker, and Price’s expert management due to experience in the wine business. The first barrel of wine was made by Bill in 2002 before he hired on Don who produced the first commercial wines in 2005. Three Sticks has a natural pedigree from the famed Durell Vineyard from which grapes for some of its Chard and Pinot are harvested. The Durell Vineyard sits on 200 acres of land that overlaps both the Sonoma Coast and the Carneros AVA, and has been producing top quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for almost 20 years. The grapes have been and continue to be sold to many top producers including Kistler, winemaker of one of California's most sought-after Chardonnays.  Three Sticks is a small production winery that produces a couple hundred cases of Pinot, and about twice as much Chardonnay, all from the Durell Vineyard, as well as a Cabernet from grapes sourced from Moon Mountain.

The Credo: The past influences the present - fuse the two to create an inviting space for guests to linger and relish the wines while embracing Sonoma’s rich history. This credo was brought to life by the incredibly talented Ken Fulk, a designer internationally known for creating one-of-a-kind living spaces that marry the past and the present. Ken’s eclectic style coupled with The Adobe’s rich history create a gorgeous juxtaposition that enthrall visitors with a historic vibe while making them feel welcome and free to linger and enjoy the plush, inviting spaces. Landscape Architect Penney Magrane has also managed to combine past with present when redesigning the Adobe’s exterior. She incorporated modern, artful notes while preserving many of the historical plantings and even incorporating design elements from the original Helen Van Pelt garden design.  

Unique Offering: The home of Three Sticks Tasting Room is The Adobe, the longest occupied residence in Sonoma and one of the town’s few remaining buildings from California’s Mexican Period. It was built in 1852 by Native Americans but went through a number of owners in its first 100 years.  After purchasing it 170 years after it was constructed, owners Bill and Eva Price gathered a team of local architects, contractors and archaeologists to carefully preserve The Adobe’s integrity and protect the aspects that held the most historic significance. During restoration, a refuse site dating back to circa 1860 was unearthed. Sonoma’s City Historian, George McKale, oversaw the archaeological excavation of the site while Three Sticks staff sifted through all the dirt, rocks and clods  - many of their finds are now on display at The Adobe for guests to see and even feel for themselves.

Visit Details:
All tastings are available by appointment only, Mon - Sat. 10:30am, 1:00pm, and 3:30pm. 
Tastings last between 60 -120 minutes depending on whether dining options are included.
Four-wine Current Release Tasting - $35 per person
Seven-wine Current Release & Library Tasting - $70 per person. Limit is 8 people per group tasting.

Dining Options: All food is prepared by El Dorado Kitchen.
Five wines paired to perfection with chef’s seasonal selections - $85 per person
Private Luncheon: Three-course meal with Three Sticks wine pairings - $200 per person
To book, contact Three Sticks at concierge@threestickswines.com or (707) 996-3328

Tasting Notes:

2013 Durell Vineyard ORIGIN Chardonnay - Durell Estate Vineyard $48

This austere wine is fermented in a concrete egg for 28 days and aged 12 months in small stainless steel barrels, this wine reveals the distinct characteristics of Durell Estate Vineyard. The wine’s richness is surprising for an unoaked Chardonnay, and also bursts with tropical fruit, honeyed lemon, peach and honeysuckle. High acidity adds balance and gives the wine mouthwatering tartness.

2013 Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast $65

Fresh blackberry, hints of soft leather and Durell’s signature tea leaf and savory mushroom aromatics, this wine captures your attention right away. This Pinot shows off its wonderful intricacy via layers of dark cherry and earth embodying Sonoma Coast’s unique terroir.

2011 Moon Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon - Moon Mountain District $75

Rich and aromatic, this sleek Cabernet shows tiers of blue fruit, berries and dusty deep rose. Upon entry, juicy dark cherry and sweet oaky spice predominate. Round tannins and a plush structure elevate the lengthy finish on this rich mountain Cabernet.


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