Coming here for the first time on an afternoon day for my birthday without knowing anything about the winery was certainly taking a chance. I had no idea what the quality of the wine was like and I had 16 yearning wine enthusiasts driving an hour from San Francisco to join me. The winery is noticeably located next to a housing track in the hills and not your usual winery sign after sign road. But, driving up the driveway and through the unique sculpture garden, we were transported into a completely secluded property and elbow free tasting room. We were greeted at the door by extremely friendly tasting room staff who seated us on two round tables on their shaded veranda overlooking their vineyards.
The tasting room hostess gave us a private tasting on the veranda of 5 wines; 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Grandview Vineyard, 2008 Estate Chardonnay-Nagasawa Vineyard, 2008 Russian River Pinot Noir, 2006 Estate Zinfandel, 2006 Convict Zinfandel-Rockpile Vineyard. The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay had great floral bouquets, but the Chardonnay lacked body and creaminess I usually love in chardonnay. The Estate Zinfandel was a superb blend of Zinfandel and Petite Syrah. It had a complex rich berry flavor with a lingering spicey finish, a tasty signature of Zinfandel. The Convict Zinfandel was equally rich with more tannins and roundness. The heartier stone fruit flavors are perfect for duck, lamb, and grilled meats.
The tasting room hostess was lively and recounted us stories to us of the history of the winery, including some of the origin of the wine names. The Convict Zinfandel was named after laborers from a local jail who actually carved a 15 mile road over the terrain of Rockpile. The Estate Chardonnay was named after the first Japanese winemaker in the world, Kenaye Nagasawa.
The winery also allows guests to take a self-guided tour of one of their vineyards. After our tasting, we were given maps and information and drove down to a gate on the property that led us onto a path with numbers and information about each varietal, the soil, and history of the vineyard and included the story of a 200 year old oak tree with a vast amount of poison oak underneath it! We avoided the poison oak successfully. Good thing everyone in our group reads signs well.
An insider secret that’s well worth the find, Paradise Ridge Winery is located in the rolling hills of Sonoma Country. The Santa Rosa property has stunning views of Russian River Valley and an expansive deck for sitting, sunning, and most importantly sipping! The winery property has been family owned and operated since 1991 and only produces about 5,000 cases a year. The estate varietiels include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Petite Syrah, and Zinfandel. Definitely worth a stop.
13 Mar 2011
Seeking a wine bar to write about on Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend suggested Vintage Wine Bar located in Santana Row in San Jose. Suited for people watching, the Vintage Wine Bar is located amongst trendy restaurants and shops. The Wine Bar is small with only outdoor patio seating.
The menu consisted of a good variety of international wines with an emphasis on California wines. My personality is to always see what others are having and then say to myself, Huh, I should have ordered that. But, in the world of wine, you live and you learn.
I ordered a flight of three tastes; a 2006 Mitarte Rioja from Spain, a 2007 Chateau Tanunda Shiraz from Australia, and last a 2007 Le Roc des Anges Cotes du Rousillon. Out of all three, I enjoyed sipping the Rioja the most for it’s fruitiness and rich red berry flavor and hint of spice. The Shiraz has some added mineral elements that I liked, but fell only slightly higher than a bargain house red I could find anywhere. The Cotes du Rousillon grew on me after letting it sip for a few moments and then trying it again. It definitely brought it much more complexity and floral hints once I appreciated and gave it a chance.
If you are in the area and looking to try a wine bar, I would rate Vintage Wine Bar on a scale of 1-10 at about a 6. The location is great for sitting and people watching, but the wine and the service is not as good as other places.
Photo by Joe Ercoli at anvilimage.com.
Happy Wine Hunting!