Wine tasting in Sonoma

In mid April I enjoyed a trip to Sonoma wine country with a few friends. Here is a report on some of the vineyards and wineries we visited which included Ryme Cellars, Williams and Selyem, Ridge and Trione.  I have included information on how you can find these wines.

Ryme Cellars –
It was a real treat to visit and taste at Ryme Cellars. I had seen their name popping up around wine blogs and wine reviews and was curious about this small boutique winery. Megan and Ryan Glaab greeted us at their wine making facilities located near Forestville California. The passion of this husband and wife wine making team is very exciting, it’s great just to hear them talk about getting started and their vision for the wines.
One of the first things I noticed that was very different about these Sonoma wines were the grape varietals. Yes there is a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but then…. Vermentino, Ribolla Gialla, Cab Franc and Aglianico (the first varietal that was purchased to start Ryme). Megan and Ryan love the old world style of wine, we talked about how they’re working with the Cab Franc with the Chinon style on their mind, and the Italian varietals that inspired them.
I was able to taste through many of the wines including several straight from the fall harvest and still in barrel. Ryme really lets their fruit do the talking, they buy used neutral barrels, leaving their wines with very little oak influence.
Most of Ryme Cellars wines are created cooperatively by Megan and Ryan who are clearly working with a similar vision. But from time to time they do have very different ideas of what they want to do with a grape, for example the Vermentino, which was my favorite tasting experience of the visit. They both took a portion of this grape’s harvest and took on separate projects creating the “His” and “Hers” Vermentino. “Hers” was pressed, settled clean, and bottled early. “His” picked later, destemmed, fermented on skins, and aged longer. It was a blast to taste side by side the two wines, both are fabulous, but offering very different characteristics.
If ordering wines from Ryme Cellars I would encourage you to purchase a “His” and “Hers” Vermentino. Wines can be purchased on their website.

Website – http://www.rymecellars.com

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Williams and Selyem –
A few years ago I was introduced to Williams and Selyem wines via one of their Russian River Pinot Noirs. It was excellent to say the least, and I had to learn more about them. The first thing I learned was I had about a year wait to get on their allocation list as the wines are not readily available in most wine shops and the wait list was long. But after a year or so I was in, and could access ordering wines via a spring and fall release.
A tasting appointment at Williams and Selyem is a special event as they only accept folks who are members of the wine allocation program. I was excited to see the property, tour the facilities, and learn more about the wines.
A tasting appointment at WS will not disappoint, the property is beautiful, the tasting room is classic and the wines are all very good. Williams and Selyem pretty much sticks with your classic Sonoma grape varietals Pinot Noir, Zin, and Chardonnay. While they do multi vineyard regional wines, the real highlight of their wines are the single vineyard offerings.
I really enjoy the Pinots from the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast vineyards.
A highlight of my time at WS was being able to look at the library collection of wines they keep for sale only at the tasting room. We chose a 1999 Sonoma Coast Coastlands Vineyard Pinot for enjoying later that weekend, it was beautiful.
Williams and Selyem wines are high quality wines from Sonoma, the Pinots have beautiful fruit and nice oak characteristics. The Chards are bright with great light fruit characteristics and ready to be enjoyed right away.
So you want to enjoy WS wines? It’s an investment in time and patience I have found for the reds. My experience with buying and tasting their wines are buy them when released, and let sit for several years. First sign up for the list at ( http://www.williamsselyem.com ), when its your time to buy I would suggest buying for the future. I really like these wines with at least 5 to 6 years on them minimum, to let the fruit smooth out and earth notes come forward. The 2006 – 2008 vintages are drinking really well right now, and if you can get your hands on anything older….cheers.

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Ridge Vineyards –  
Ridge holds a special place in my heart, one of their wines was the first “quality” wine I ever had and it’s when the lights came on for me wine speaking. I’ll never forget a dinner at St. John’s in Chattanooga and a friend ordered a Ridge Lytton Springs…. and that is where the wine obsession began.
I set up a Ridge Estate tour and tasting appointment which anyone could do via the Ridge website. It was a good time, super informative and a “classic” wine tour in California. They load you up (small group) and take you through some of the vineyards explaining the history and the how and why, then a walk through the barrel rooms and production facilities. Finishing up with a really nice tasting of older wines that had been decanted before our arrival.
Ridge makes wines in two distinctly different wine regions in California, out of two estates. The Lytton Springs estate in Sonoma and Monte Bello in the Santa Cruz mountains south of San Francisco. The wines in Sonoma focus on blends of multiple varietals including Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Mouvedre. In Monte Bello they have traditional Bordeaux blends of Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petite Verdot.
Ridge has been a front-runner in sustainable wine making practices with organic farming, solar power, and special water management. To learn more click here – http://www.ridgewine.com/About/Sustainability
Ridge was also on the forefront with being one of the first to start putting ingredient labels on their wines. As they say….Ridge is adding to its labels a list of actions and ingredients to demonstrate how little intervention is necessary to produce a fine, terroir-driven wine from distinctive fruit. Although an ingredient list is not required, if a winery chooses to add a list of ingredients to its back label it must list ALL ingredients.
Ridge wines are easily accessible around the country and in Chattanooga, most quality wine shops will stock several of the various wines offered.
I would highly suggest an appointment with Ridge if you are making a visit to Sonoma wine country.

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Trione Vineyards –
Upon arrival the Trione property and tasting room is impressive. It’s a beautiful property, with a large stone building dating back to 1908 and a bocce ball court next to the vines. A great spot to enjoy a bottle of wine with friends if you’re so inclined. We had a great tasting appointment and complete tour of the wine making facilities. It was a highlight to taste Trione wines straight from the tank before bottling as well as vintages dating back to 2006 in the tasting room.
Trione is growing the following varietals – Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, and making single varietal wines and a red blend “Red Wine”. The best description I can give to their wines overall is they are very solid quality wines. I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc and the Red Blend. The Cabernet and Red Blend are big wines, I would suggest cellaring for several years with the current vintages. The Sauvignon Blanc is prime and ready to be consumed right now, a great spring and summer wine.
Trione wines can be found in Chattanooga, I know they are sold at Riverside Wine.

Website – http://trionewinery.com/

 

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