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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

Why does wine pair so well with cheese?

Have you ever wondered why wine and cheese taste so good together?  Is it one of those social norms that we’ve all grown accustomed or is there real science  behind this perfect match?  As with most wine related phenomena, the magic of its pairing with cheese is good old chemistry.   It starts with recognizing two very important qualities that are found in wine: tannin (found in grape skins, stems and seeds, this causes your mouth to feel a dry, chalky sensation, akin to drinking black tea) and acidity (this is what causes your mouth to pucker and causes you to salivate when you drink certain wines).  Cheese, by nature, is creamy, fatty and also contains proteins which when consumed, coat the palate of your mouth.  Your taste buds enjoy this sensation of oily, creaminess at first, but then crave balance, and both tannin and acidity help cut through the fat coating to “cleanse your palate”.  So if you’ve been indulging a bit too long at the cheese table, you may even crave wine!
The same is true in reverse.  Wines that have a high level of tannin can be harsh to drink and overpower some of the subtle flavors in a wine.  When a tannic wine is consumed with cheese, however, the proteins and fat in cheese start to break down the tannin and coat your palate protecting it from the harshness of the tannin.  This is akin to why people add milk or cream to their black tea in England.  If you want to conduct a fun science experiment, start with a bold, tannic red wine.  After tasting it, drop a cube of hard cheese into it and let it sit for a minute or two.  Then re-taste the wine; I guarantee you’ll notice that it tastes smoother.  You’ll also notice that the hard cheese has turned purple as it has been absorbing some of the tannin from the wine!
White wines don’t have tannin, so why do they also pair well with cheese? Many white wines have good acidity, which is an astringent and also helps cut through creaminess.  Crisp acidity, and effervescence that is found in sparkling wines is also a great counterpart to salty foods, which is why it pairs nicely with salty cheeses.  While some experts believe wine and cheese should be paired according to region or strength, I have a few general guidelines that are simple to follow and lead to matches made in heaven:
  • Pair creamy cheese with high acid wines like a sauvignon blanc or a riesling.  
  • Soft, fresh, cheeses pair nicely with a fruity wine (pinot grigio, chardonnay).  
  • Rich, heavy cheese (like Havarti or feta) pair well with a light red wine or full bodied white, like a Gewurztraminer.  
  • Highly tannic wine pair well with hard cheese, as you now know from the experiment I noted above.
  • And for a sweet and savory finish, try a strong, blue-veined cheese with a dessert wines (port, sauternes).

So the next time you’re enjoying a beautiful cheese course consider wine over other alternatives and  when you’re a few glasses of wine in at a party don’t forget to say cheese! For more Wine 101, follow my "Ask the Somm" posts on WhichWinery.
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OneHope - One impactful wine

It was the flashy, pink glittery bottle of champagne that drew me in at a Battery member wine tasting event in San Francisco. I’ll admit, I’m attracted to shiny things and the bottle screamed “I’m sexy, I’m unique, I’m fresh and perfect to bring if you want to make a splash at any occasion”.  Later on, I couldn’t get the glitter bottle out of my mind, so I took to my computer to do some research on how to get my hands on one of those bottles. As I explored the OneHope site, I realized that this wine, much like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, was much MUCH more than a pretty package…its mission is not pure consumer delight, but to positively impact an array of causes, giving back with every bottle.

OneHope was founded by 8 optimistic twenty-somethings who decided they wanted to use a favorite indulgence (wine) for good cause, donating proceeds from every wine purchase towards a unique charitable cause.  Similar to the Toms or Warby Parker “buy one give one” craze of the past decade, this younger generation of winemakers isn’t content to just produce good product with sleek packaging, but seek to also raise awareness and make an impact in the world through every bottle of wine sold. OneHope donates 50% of the profit from every bottle sold to their specified causes and as of this blog post, has already made more than $2 Million in donations, supporting over 12 causes, each measured on impact (i.e. each case of Chardonnay sold represents one clinical trial for a woman with breast cancer). Causes include autism and breast cancer research, microloans to help break the cycle of poverty, placing sheltered animals in new homes, vaccinating children to prevent deadly illness, planting trees to help save our planet and providing clean drinking water to people around the world. OneHope has also established another way to generate money for causes; if you host an at-home tasting with ViaOneHope (their direct sales community), 15% of the sales from that event can go to a local charity of your choice.  

But it gets better. The wine actually tastes good.  So good, that it’s ranked the #1 selling wine out of 10,000 wines available for purchase on Amazon, has received multiple 90+ point ratings, and has been rated one of the top 300 wineries by volume of 8,000+ in the US!  Key to the wine’s quality and success? Back in 2009, Michael Mondavi, one of the pioneers of the Napa Valley wine industry, met the young founders at a tradeshow and offered to help them.  Today, Rob Mondavi Jr. is a consultant winemaker for the brand and produces a product that’s consistently high quality and actually affordable too. R.M. Jr. does all of the sourcing for OneHope and has helped expand the portfolio of wines to include grapes that come from Monterey, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Lodi, Sonoma Coast, etc.  Since OneHope wants anyone to be able to afford and enjoy their wines, they have a moderately priced core collection, and have expanded to Reserve tiers and special editions (including the Glitter bottles!)

I haven’t yet visited OneHope in person, as it’s undergoing construction and will not be finished for another year and a half, but I am eagerly awaiting the opening and looking forward to a “hard-hat tour” before it’s officially open.  The winery has been designed by renowned architect, Howard Backen, iconic in wine country for designing Meadowood and Harlan Estate, and will be located on a prime piece of real estate in the heart of Napa wine country off of Highway 29 in Rutherford across the road from Cakebread and a neighbor to the iconic Mondavi Winery.  The 15,000 sq. foot winery facility is intended to be a community hub, great for social gatherings, exhibits and tributes to the causes supported. The design will feature lots of windows and glass doors to bridge the outdoors with interior, wrap around porches, and a large private barrel room and tasting room open for public tasting. It will be named "Estate 8" to symbolize the 8 partners that founded it, to represent the infinity sign, in all of its symmetry and infinite cycling of resources, and to pay homage to the Chow family that the winery was purchased from, since 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture. OneHope is not just a producer of wine, but rather a lifestyle brand that you will want to be part of, especially if you embrace the company’s credo: “Make giving back part of what you do every day”.

Wines I sampled*

*Fun fact: the dots on the bottles aren’t just a pretty decoration, rather they’re a statistic representation related to the cause supported by the bottle; i.e. 1 in 7 children do not know where their next meal is coming from in the US, hence, 1 in 7 dots is filled in on the Sparkling Brut.  For every case of the Sparkling Brut sold, 25 meals are donated through the charitable partner, WhyHunger.

Rutherford Estate Sauvignon Blanc: A unique sauvignon blanc that is aged in oak yet remains crisp and fresh. Notes of tangy citrus, stone fruit, and tropical fruits are balanced with a bite of crisp green apple. Really intense fruit flavors and aromatics.

California Brut Sparkling Wine: Crisp, light, wine with a nose of green apple filled croissant .  The body has light fruit flavors of gooseberry, white peach, baked bread and prickly pear. Refreshing and perfect for summer.

California Chardonnay: A warm, rich Chardonnay with aromas of baked apple pie sprinkled with baking spices.  On the palate, buttery caramel apple, vanilla bean toffee and crisp pear.

California Cabernet: A deep hued cabernet with nice tight structure and hints of blue fruits to match the bottle. Notes of blackberry cordial, coffee, dark chocolate and some dried tobacco. Some secondary notes of leather and roasted plum make for a nice finish.

California Pinot Noir: A bright, layered pinot with notes of red fruits, wild strawberries and bing cherries on the nose and palate. Secondary flavors of fall leaves, spices and violet make this wine interesting and rich with a nice finish.
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Robert Sinskey Vineyards - Elegant, Organically Grown Wines for Food Lovers

The Experience: This is a Napa winery experience that’s suitable for everyone.  Robert Sinskey Vineyards, boasts a recently remodeled modern winery, caves and tasting room off the Silverado trail off Oak Knoll Road, beautiful culinary gardens and orchards, a coi pond, and an extensive culinary program and team that prepares a custom tasting menu daily from the Vineyard Kitchen. The team here cares a lot about hospitality and there is a tasting experience t suit every preference whether it’s a relaxed tasting at the communal table, a tour through the gardens and caves, or a food and wine pairing out on the sun-speckled terrace.  RSV features over thirty varieties of wine to suit every palette so plan on lingering here while you embark on your own tasting adventure.  Sinskey is also one of Napa’s first organic and biodynamic wineries, certified C.C.O.F., and you’ll also notice the orchards, organic gardens, owl boxes and animals that round out the RSV ecosystem and contribute to the terroir-driven wines.

The Credo: At RSV, winegrowing begins with the land and embraces the “whole farm” philosophy of interrelationships and biodiversity of nature, embracing natural processes to grow healthy grapes that become vibrant, living wines.  Robert Sinskey and team believe that wine is best complemented by food and meant to be shared communally which is why every tasting is accompanied by a culinary pairing cooked fresh from locally sourced or farmed ingredients, many from the RSV organic gardens.  Their guiding principle when it comes to the craft of winemaking is that “wine is not an athletic event”, where elegance over brawn is the house style, resulting in balanced wines with great acidity that pair really really well with foods.  An anomaly in the Napa Valley, RSV doesn’t even submit their wine for review by score-centric critics because they don’t believe that wine should be tasted and judged in a competitive atmosphere, devoid of food on the table.

Unique Offering: There has been many occasion in Napa when one faces the dilemma of when to squeeze in time to eat between an afternoon of wine tasting.  If you’re planning to visit Robert Sinskey, the one thing you don’t have to plan is where to stop for lunch; every guest who visits RSV will be treated to delicious food pairings to complement the wines, so don’t fret if you arrive with an empty stomach.  We toured the winery and grounds with our guide, JB, before settling outside on the terrace and while we weren’t expecting such a robust offering, to our surprise (and delight), one of the most beautiful cheese and charcuterie boards was presented to us.
Home-made gougeres, fresh and dried fruits from the organic gardens, honey from the bee hives, and local cheese and charcuterie, paired beautifully with the Abraxas wine (a blend of riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc and gewurztraminer).  To follow, we snacked on an appetizer of roasted chicken with mushroom stuffing, cooked in the wood-fired oven.  The earthy mushroom notes and smoky chicken paired beautifully with the Capa pinot noir.  To finish, we were treated to a display of sinful house-made petit desserts served with the late harvest pinot gris. Robert Sinskey’s pairing notes booklet even comes with beautifully photographed recipes from the Vineyard Kitchen so you can whip up delicacies like the wild mushroom and cheese souffle at home.  

The Team: Robert Sinskey is a native Californian who received his BA in Fine Arts from Parson’s School of Design and didn’t fall into winemaking until later in life when a six-month assignment helping his father turned into a twenty-five year career making “wines of character that pair well with cuisine”.  
Jeff Virnig, RSV’s winemaker, found his calling to the wine industry significantly younger than Robert He became one of the youngest winemakers in Napa working for RSV in 1991 after getting a BS in agriculture business management from Cal Poly and working at Mayacamas winery and at RSV as assistant winemaker.  Jeff has been instrumental in helping develop RSV’s vineyards as well as wines, emphasizing the importance of improving wine quality through sustainable farming, and helping vines achieve natural balance while growing.
Rob and Jeff both hold the philosophy that artisanal winemaking begins with the care of the land and have farmed their vineyards organically since 1991, honing the biodynamic process and attempting to leave a minimal footprint on the land.  75% of the energy used at the winery is sourced through solar power and they use bio-diesel, made from used restaurant oil to power their trucks and tractors. Robert and Jeff’s conscientious business practices have helped to define the RSV brand as a pioneer of sustainable winemaking in the industry.

The Wines: While there is an extensive array of varietals to try at RSV, there is a consistency in style that ties the portfolio of wines together. They are all made with a higher acidity and elegance that makes them excellent food wines - so think about picking up a few bottles to bring to your next dinner party!  The RSV website does a beautiful job of categorizing the wines by color, varietal, and special release making it both easy to navigate when searching for just the wine you have in mind, and also fun to explore.  The tasting experience is similar. Rather than sticking to a pairing that has been pre-planned and standardized for all guests, at RSV, you can tell your wine guide what you’d like to taste, or let them learn your style and make recommendations as you move from one wine to the next.  
NOTABLE: Check out the POV collection, a wine that is impressive to drink and also to bring to dinner as each bottle features a stunning black and white photo taken by Robert Sinskey himself.

Visit Details:  While reservations are highly recommended, RSV has the hospitality credo of welcoming everyone to the winery. Your options below:
  • “A Perfect Circle” gives guests the opportunity to explore the caves and gardens, tour the cellar and indulge in a 3-course tasting of seasonal dishes from the Vineyard Kitchen accompanied by a flight of RSV wines. By appointment at 11am and 1pm
  • “The Communal Table” allows guests to enjoy a flight of wines seated in the Great Hall, Terrace or Fig Garden with a communal group of up to 8 people.  An RSV Wine Informant will guide you through a flight of RSV wines accompanied by tastes from the Vineyard Kitchen. By appointment
  • “Unscheduled Flight” for those who prefer spontaneity, this is the first come, first served option for guests to belly up to the tasting bar and enjoy seasonal tastes from the kitchen paired with a flight of RSV wines. No appointment necessary, though there may be a wait for this option during peak times

Tasting Notes:  It’s hard to select which wines to feature here, but here’s a diverse array of the RSV offering and some of my favorites.

Abraxas, Vin de Terroir, Los Carneros 2013
This wine is fun in so many ways. From the bottle (which looks like an oversized riesling bottle) to the blend of grapes (riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc and gewurztraminer), it’s a great wine to sip on it’s own on a hot day, but pairs beautifully with so many foods, from spicy foods to vegetable dishes to seafood, it’s a great wine to pair with foods that can be otherwise tricky to balance with wine.  The wine has aromas of pear and almond and lychee, with an old world style, but bright, minerality.  It mas a medium body and long finish with tasting notes of peach, lime and even melon or grapefruit rind.

Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Los Carneros 2015
I first tasted this wine at a blind tasting and have never forgotten it’s subtle elegance and the color, the palest peach hue, is just lovely. It’s a stunning wine with aromas of peach and apricot, strawberries and citrus notes of grapefruit and lime.  The wine is vibrant with fruit and also has some savory herbaceous qualities which makes it the ideal wine to pair with virtually everything.  

Pinot Noir, Capa Vineyard, Los Carneros 2012
This pinot noir is surprisingly full bodied and bursting with ripe, red berry notes. It has generous, bold fruit flavors, like ripe cherries, but also savory qualities with touches of dried rose, tea and tobacco.  This wine beautifully bridges old world with new world styles, and is perfect to drink now or set down to age gracefully for years to come.

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Wine-based Specialty Cocktails!

It's May and Napa is blooming with weekend weddings! In my opinion, no wedding is complete without the chiming of wine glasses in cheers - I personally will never forget the spectacle of my father saboring the top off of a bottle of champagne at my own wedding in Napa at Auberge du Soleil! For those blushing brides who are looking to go beyond just a straight pour from the proverbial bottle, these wine-based cocktails will refresh and satisfy any guest. Plus, by including a signature wine-based cocktail at your wedding, you can dazzle your guests with a hint of personality while saving on your budget by eliminating a need for a full bar.  

Have your service staff tray-pass the cocktails at the reception to manage the inevitable crowd at the bar. Or consider serving a specialty cocktail during the cake cutting as a more edgy alternative to an espresso bar or champagne toast. Below are some favorites I'm bringing back for wedding season!

Saint G. Hibiscus Mimosa
Next to the Bloody Mary, the mimosa is the most famed daytime cocktail, but more elegant and better suited for festive occasions. For a more inventive alternative, try this sophisticated twist on the standard mimosa.  The addition of tangy hibiscus flowers and sultry St. Germain maintain the delicate, fruity nature of a mimosa and the beautiful hibiscus flower is exotic and festive.  I first served this beautiful rose-hued drink at a wedding shower, but it would be just as well-suited for a wedding brunch or bachelorette party.  

1 Wild Hibiscus Flower*
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Wild Hibiscus Syrup
1 oz soda water or sparkling grapefruit juice
4 oz Dry Sparkling Wine or Prosecco

Place flower in champagne flute. Mix the next 3 ingredients and strain into champagne flute. Top with dry sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon twist.

• Visit WildHibiscus.com for more information on hibiscus flowers in syrup

Classic Champagne Cocktail
Just as a ring is the ultimate symbol for tying the knot, nothing says celebration like a champagne cocktail.  This timeless libation has a special place in my heart as it was recommended by sommelier Erik of Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Bouchon, where I got engaged. I also enjoyed this classic many times on my honeymoon; there is just something about sparkling that accentuates joyful occasions unlike any other drink.  Best served on a silver platter during cocktail hour with canapes, or paired with dessert - the hint of sweetness from the sugar can handle wedding cake and creates another great opportunity for a toast.

1 cube sugar
1 ounce Cognac
5 ounces chilled Champagne

Drop bitters onto sugar cube; let soak in. Place sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Add Cognac, and top with Champagne.

Continental Sour
This classic layered sweet and sour drink gets its sweetness from mulled wine.  This drink will warm you up from its rye base and spicy mulled wine and is best served as a festive addition to dessert.  Tip: Use the mulled wine to poach pears, then serve them with creme fraiche or ice cream for a festive fall or winter dessert paired with this cocktail.

1 oz Ritten House Rye - 100 Proof
1 oz fresh lemon juice  
1 dash simple syrup
1 dash Orange Curacao
Shake all ingredients, then fine strain into a chilled port glass (copita_ or a Nick and Nora glass.  
1 oz Blood Orange Mulled wine should be floated at the top of the glass.
Garnish with blood orange.

Mulled Wine Ingredients:
Blood Orange, Cinnamon Sticks, Cardamom, Cloves, Sugar, Star Anise, Nutmeg and red wine.  Combine in a pot and boil.  

The French 75
I served this as a special cocktail for my husband’s birthday in Napa this year and pre-made a pitcher in advance so I could easily pour and serve it to guests as they arrived.  This cocktail works beautifully for wedding showers, rehearsal dinners or engagement parties and served with light  canapes, oysters or seared scallops.

1.5 oz Gin
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Shake well, strain into flute.
top off with 2.5 oz of Champange or prosecco
Garnish with a mint sprig pierced through a lemon slice and floated in the champagne flute.

The French A5:
Amy Jacot, Head mixologist from San Francisco’s hot 5A5 Steakhouse coined the name for this drink one day while playing around with new drink recipes. Particularly fond of  the aforementioned “French 75”, Amy wanted to create a cocktail that was reminiscent of it while being more approachable to a sweeter palate. After a few different iterations, the French A5 was born and went on to become the top-selling cocktail on 5A5’s drink menu.  This light and slightly sweet cocktail pairs wonderfully with hard cheeses or with spicy passed appetizers.
Recipe Courtesy of Steve Chen, owner or 5A5 Steakhouse, San Francisco.  Recipe created by Amy Jacot, Resident Mixologist and Bar Lead at 5A5 Steakhouse, SF.

1.25 oz Ketel One
0.75 oz St-Germain
0.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
2 oz Proseco
.25 oz Chambord

Combine Ketel One, St-Germain, and grapefruit juice and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a
champagne flute, and top with Prosecco. Carefully sink the Chambord, so that a very faint rainbow effect appears at the bottom of the glass.

HIP SIPS’ Herbsaint Champagne Love Brew
A New Orleans favorite, this anise-spiked sparkling cocktail is one Courtney Cochran whipped up for the Cosmic Love Ball – an annual fete in San Francisco celebrating the culture of love through music and live theater (how very SF, right?).  Pair it with something spicy - shrimp or sashimi canapes or something sweet - pie and gelato to compliment the anise.
Recipe provided Courtesy of Courtney Cochran, certified sommelier, Your Personal Sommelier®, San Francisco, and author of Hip Tastes: The Fresh Guide to Wine.

Herbsaint (anise liqueur)
Massenet Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur)
or Mathilde Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur)
Lemon twist

Combine 1/2 glass Champagne or good sparkling wine with 1/2 ounce chilled crème de mure and 1/4 ounce anise liqueur; for best results, shake the liqueurs together and strain into the bubbly.  Add the lemon twist and rock on.

The Black Sabbath
This perfectly balanced, delicious and restorative cocktail created by Gail Izaguirre from San Francisco’s iconic Foreign Cinema restaurant, is fresh on the palate, uplifting in spirit, and lovely to look at.  Serve this festive and refreshing libation during the cocktail reception with Fruits de Mer, Brandade, Melons and Prosciutto.
Recipe provided courtesy of Greg Borden, Beverage Director; Mas Farmhouse and Mas la Grillade and former Wine Director; Cafe Claude, Gitane, Claudine, San Francisco.  

1/2 oz freshly pressed Lemon Juice - when in season, use Meyer Lemon
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange liqueur
Top off with Prosecco

Served tall over ice; garnish with a blood orange twist and a smoked salt rim.
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Three Sticks Winery serves up the perfect trifecta: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet

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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