Roche Carneros Estate Winery, and Cline Cellars Winery, Sonoma report w/ pics
I'm not a wine person so take that for what it's worth, I thought this place was ok. Free wine, who's complaining?
We tried 10 different wines, they have 14 free ones you can try!
2005 Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Estate Chardonnay
2005 Reserve American Oak Chardonnay
2004 Carneros Pinot Noir
2002 Carneros Estate Merlot
2005 Mendocino Zinfandel
2001 Carneros Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Sweet things in life-I liked all the sweet wines
2005 Muscat Canelli
2005 Late Harvest Merlot
Group tasting fee $5 pp group of 10 or more, lucky we were only 6.
Separate men/women bathrooms.
Roche Carneros Winery
28700 Arnold Dr
Sonoma, CA 95476
Cline Cellars Winery
I'm not much of a wine drinker, and I thought their wines were pretty good.
They have 5 free tiny pours from regular list, we didn't try the reserve tastings which are $1 per taste. Small tasting room with a gift shop inside.
Ones we tried:
2005 Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay
2003 Oakley fiveREDS
2004 Red Truck
2005 Ancient Vines Carignane (karen-YAWN)-I think it was my fav.
They have 6 ponds outside, a Mission Museum (we couldn't go in because it closed at 4pm), lots of unique birds in cases, and some lambs.
Nice outside tables to enjoy the view of ponds, etc. We enjoyed taking pics with "Crazy Bob" outside, he's goofy looking. Bathrooms available outside in the back.
24737 Highway 121
Sonoma, CA 95476
The two above and below wineries researched from sfgate.com winecountry guide:
Schug Carneros Estate Winery also has free tastings normally, but this weekend Nov 18-19, 2006 had Holiday in Carneros (a special $25 fundraising event) 602 Bonneau Rd, Sonoma CA
Viansa Winery now charges $5 for tastings, and also participated in Holiday in Carneros. 25200 Arnold Dr (Hwy 121), Sonoma.
Moon Mtn Vineyard (formally Carmenet Winery) now charges $10 for tour and tasting, maybe need apppt. 1700 Moon Mtn Dr, Sonoma.
Robert Stemmler Tasting Room (no longer called that), on 498 First St, Sonoma charges for tasting.
SFgate is a good place to collect logistic information on wineries, but it should be noted that just because a winery is listed on the site, doesn't mean the Chronicle is recommending them. The wineries post their own information -- if the Chronicle has reviewed a tasting room, there should be a separate link to the review and star rating.
Wine snobs, relax. Yes, Roche makes some average wines, but ask the tasting room for the Italian guy in the back office (I think his name is Dino). Roche has a unique license where they can also import and distribute wine. Ask for the list of Italian wine. It's under the counter. You can't taste, but you will be able to buy very fine Barolos, Brunellos, etc. that you can't find elsewhere in the Bay Area. If you are a true connoisseur, you will recognize the quality selection. Also, in some years, Roche has bottled a reserve merlot made from Nancy Pelosi's vineyard. It is far better than their regular offerings and now with her elevated standing in DC, an interesting bottle to serve.
Roche and Viansa make awful wine. Cline isn't much better.
I'm sorry you had to experience those wineries, because
with 10 minutes more driving, you could have tasted some
very good wine at Charles Creek on the Sonoma Square, Ravenswood and Hanzell, also close by. A little farther north on Highway 12 brings you to Kunde, Laurel Glen, Matanzas Creek and Landmark.
I still can't believe you went to those wineries. Please go taste some really good wines, and then write about them.
Here is a map of Sonoma Wineries in that neck of the woods:
re: maria lorraine
Unless something has changed recently, Laurel Glen is not open for public tasting at its Sonoma Mountain vineyard on that map. It does offer wine tasting at Locals in Alexander Valley, some distance away.
Disclaimer: Patrick Campbell and Ray Kaufman of Laurel Glen are friends of mine.
re: maria lorraine
Cline makes pleasant, drinkable wines (for the most part), although at their last Harvest Celebration, I tasted some very interesting (and far more complex) Italian varietals that they're bottling under the Jacuzzi name. The very first sentence the OP typed was that he/she was not a wine person. There's zero need to so vehemently assail the choice of wineries. Another wine snob could call you out for mentioning Ravenswood as making very good wine (I've never thought a complete vintage could taste like it was corked until I made the mistake of tasting numerous bottles of their 2002 cab at different social events), but I won't. Different strokes for different folks.
re: Eugene Park
Yes, I understand the OP was a beginner, not a wine lover. With very little extra effort -- rather than an indifferent effort (meaning: rather than stopping at the first two wineries on the highway as you enter Sonoma County, even if they are recommended on sfgate.com) -- a far better quality and taste experience could have been had.
I mentioned three better choices with an additional 10 minutes of driving. Perhaps the 2002 vintage was off, but who can deny Ravenswood's and Joel Peterson's contribution to Zinfandel making? (So who's assailing what now?) By just doing just a little more research and digging, even using this board, the OP could have had a much more flavorful and interesting experience, and perhaps one that could have been more useful to readers.
Yes, everyone has different tastes, and one of the wonderful
things about Chowhound is that our palates can develop as we seek out the wonderful experiences of others. And by seeking out quality wines (not necessarily more expensive!) and wine experiences, what better way to BECOME a wine lover?
re: maria lorraine
Personally, I find Kunde's wines oaked to death. Ravenswood used to be good but at about the time they were bought by the corporations (or perhaps it started when they went public) they've been turning out mostly one dimensional fruit bombs. Neither has even been a pleasant visit for me, as they've always been packed several rows of pushy drinkers deep at the bar. Dollar-for-dollar, I'll take a Cline wine over those two any day.
I think Viansa Winery is a great one to stay far away from. It's the most merchandise happy place I've ever been into. They are far more interested in selling jellies, jams and mustards than they are wine. Plus, there's always at least 2 bus loads of people there. No fun whatsoever.
Cline is a favorite stop of mine, especially when I am taking folks on their first wine tasting adventure. Nice inexpensive wines, pretty setting, convenient location if you're heading to Sonoma Valley, Carneros, and/or Napa. In my opinion, their best wines are their Mourvedres.
I've stopped at Roche a couple of times and haven't been impressed. The wines were just dull. But it has been several years now.