Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma Wine Country

buena10 Buena Vista is oldest winery in California, founded in 1857, Buena Vista is California’s first premium winery, and its history is as colorful as it is proud. Today, it’s belong to the vision of Jean-Charles Boisset. Just a few minutes drive from downtown Sonoma, the original winery is now a California Historic Landmark, and home to our Winery, Tasting Room, and Visitor’s Center.

It’s a beautiful and historical estate, open Daily from 10 am to 5 pm, buena3excluding major holidays. The drive here is quite easy. Plenty of parking spaces, stroll down the pathway, you will see the maze garden on your left and some of the historical figures on your right, before you arrive to the chateau-like main tasting room.

They offer so many tours and wines tasting options, check on their website is best: www.buenavistawinery.com/visit

buena7– Barrel tour and tasting  – $35 per person, the Barrel Tour and Tasting is available daily at 11am and 2pm, the tour and tasting lasts about 1 hour. Reservations are required.

– Private reserve tasting – Escape the crowds and explore a flight of our Private Reserve and limited-release wines at the Private Reserve Bar overlooking our main tasting salon. Available daily between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. $30 per person, $24 for Wine Club Members. No Reservations Required.

buena9– Grand reserve tasting experience – Enjoy a seated, by-appointment-only tasting experience that features library wines carefully selected by our winemaker and poured in the quiet seclusion of The Count’s Cave. Reservations are required. Available daily at 11:00 am, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm. $40 per person, $32 for Wine Club Members.

– Be the count blending experience – Who would like to be The Count or Countess?  90-minute,  you will play with Zinfandel, Merlot and buena5mixed reds. Find the perfect palate then bottle, cork, foil and label your bottle. You will design your own label and leave with a newly branded wine tailored to your masterful palate. The best part is you can order as many cases as you desire.
Available daily at 10:30am and 1:30pm. $100 per person, $80 for Wine Club Members. Reservations are required.

buena1– Picnic hampers – Picnicking at historic Buena Vista has long been a favorite for many guests, and we now offer a Picnic Hamper from a fine local food purveyor filled with delectable delights! Available daily between 11am – 3pm, we are offering two options:

The Count’s Hamper, named for our original founding proprietor in 1857, Count Agoston Haraszthy. For two: rustic sandwich, salad, assorted sweet delights.

buena2The JCB French Hamper, named for our current proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset. For two: assorted Artisan cheeses, Charcuterie, rustic potato salad, baguette half, assorted sweet delights.

Reservations are required  and the hamper is for day-of use only. Both Hampers are $75 and include a Buena Vista wine tasting and two glasses for your picnic. This is a good choice if you just want to lay out at chill and not worry about bringing your own food.

They offer variety of wines from rose to sparkling, from chardonnay to zinfandel, blend varietals and more. The wines range from $20 + to over hundred with their soon to be release red.

buena4  I enjoyed their Pinot Noir Carneros but it’s sold out currently. Their zinfandel is another one that you should try if you like spicy, full bodied red.

They are dogs friendly which is so awesome, so you don’t have to leave your 4-legs friend at home. Although they can’t come inside the tasting room unless they’re service  dogs.

I love the Champagne tasting room a lot, off-white leather couches, buena6chandeliers and by the cave, bring a jacket. It’s much more chill and peaceful than the main crowded tasting room.

If you come on the weekend, expect slower service and not much personal, but if you can come on week day, always excellent service here.

Follow them:
Instagram https://instagram.com/buenavistawinery
Twitter https://twitter.com/buenavistawines

by Manda Bear @1MandaBear

Cairdean Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa Valley Wine Country

cairdean1  Cairdean Vineyards just opened their tasting room in St. Helena in the Spring 2014, just right down the street from the Culinary Institute of America, opens 7 days a week from 11-8 PM and no reservation required; which is a perfect last stop on your way back since all the wineries are closed at 4-5 PM.

A beautiful tasting room, spacious, modern, and quite charming with a square bar makes it easy to serve guests as they can stand around or sit down. The earthy palette, concrete flooring and dark stained cabinetry are brightened with brass accents.Love the table with black marble top and brass base, leather club chairs, chandelier constructed out of wine bottles which give me a great idea for my own and a beautiful stone fireplace.
We got to try a lot of wines but a few that stand out.

– Haley Margaret White Wine – $10 of this wine helps raise awareness and funding for others who battle Cystic Fibrosis. Nice nose, stone fruits, smooth, bright, just a good wine for Sunday brunch, a unique blend of Pinot Gris, Roussanne, and Viogner.

– 2010 Cairdean Vineyards Merlot Bordeaux blend – 81% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Malbec, and 0.5% Petite Verdot. On cairdean4the nose, red berry, dark cherry , and blueberry aromas,  oak spice, hazelnut and cocoa, lingering finish, medium bodied with balanced acidity. Maybe I’m bias because I love Bordeaux, this wine reminds me of a good bottle of the Right Bank, Pomerol 2010 vintage, to be exact. Only 492 Cases Produced.

– 2011 Cairdean Vineyards Syrah – 84% Syrah, 11% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, dark cherry, spice, herbs, beautiful and cairdean3voluptuous on the nose, even more curvy on the bodied, long finish, full bodied. Syrah is not my favorite varietal, but this bottle makes me think of Northern Rhone, well done, I enjoyed this very much and I got to tried this the last 2 years. If you love a BIG wine, you must TRY this! Winemaker Stacia Williams surely nailed this one! She’s also very sweet and humbled, I’m lucky to get to meet here and her husband Edwin Williams co-owner of Cairdean Vineyards during Flavor! Napa in 2014.

cairdean2  Service was wonderful here as always and the tasting fee is very reasonable and affordable for Napa Valley. Cairdean Vineyards is a perfect last top for you before you leave Napa Valley, don’t forget to check out their newly opened restaurant The Farmer and The Fox cairdeanestate.com

Follow them on Twitter and IG: twitter.com/CairdeanWine

by Manda Bear @1MandaBear

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