Healdsburg WHITE (Winery) and Olive Oil Suggestions
My husband and I are making the East Coast to West Coast pilgrimage in early April to visit some friends in the San Francisco area. We're doing one night in Sonoma in Healdsburg proper (dinner at Cyrus).
I think we'd like to stay close to the town on day one as our friends will be driving up and back the same day since they have to work the following morning and it will be less crazy for them to stay in a rather centralized area. My husband and I will be able to meander around the next day at our own pace, so we could go a little bit farther off the beaten path.
Unfortunately, as much as I adore red wine (and red wine loves Sonoma county), it does not agree with my chronic migraines, so I would like winery suggestions that have strong white lineup. I can have SOME red wine, but very sparingly and spread out. I prefer dryer, non-sweet, and non-oakey whites. Other than that, I am not too picky about specific varietals.
We would prefer smaller, more intimate places. We certainly wouldn't be opposed to visiting some of the larger places, but as a frequent visitor to the Finger Lakes I have grown accustomed to that kind of environment.
We'd also like to visit at least a couple olive oil places, so would appreciate any favorites for that as well.
Visited and back!
I just thought I'd stop in for a little play by play....
1. Sunce: Overall disappointed with them. I kept them on the list because we were told the owner's were the only people that would be working that day. I thought it would be a cool experience for my husband. However, they were not. Wines were ok.....nothing more, nothing less. I thought it was obvious they didn't really have a focus. They had some really good sales, however. 50% off about 5 of their wines. They do have an insane selection of wines I ended up with a Rose Barbera that I liked because it was such a good "summer" red and a Malbec.
2. Lynmar: So glad we stopped here! One of the gentleman serving wines grew up in the town that my husband works in, so we talked with him for quite awhile and had a blast. We did their wine and cheese tasting on their patio. They had 3 Pinots and a Chardonnay to taste. I loved them all, and I am generally not a Chardonnay fan (2009 Russian River). All the wines were extremely "silky" (for lack of a better word). The grounds were lovely--I especially loved their exansive garden (chocolate mint....the smell was amazing).
3. Ridge Lytton Springs: Horribly disappointed with this one. For whatever reason, from the moment we walked in the woman doing the tastings was extremely rude. It was the type of welcome you'd expect from a rowdy, drunk group of 20 suddenly decending on a winery unannounced....not 2 well dressed couples walking in without even uttering a word (not that well dressed is an indication of good behavior, but we didn't look like ruffians). Anyhow, each couple decided on one of their $5 tastings and one of their $15 tastings. The server said to us "ok, one here and one here" and pointed to each of us. We all thought she was confused and was serving ONE $5 tasting to all 4 of us, and ONE $15 tasting to all 4 of us, so we said "no, no, one of each for us and one of each for them." Apparently she was talking about giving us one tasting MENU for each couple because we got an eye roll, sigh, and then she snatched 2 more menus for us and said "there, does that make it any clearer for you?" By this point we were all completely slack jawed in awe. Anyhow, the wines were nice enough, but way to bold and peppery for me. With wine, if there is one thing that is pronounced in a wine, it overwhelms the wine and that's all I can taste. The Carignane they had for tasting was the only thing that really agreed with my palate.
4. VML: We were all a little irritated by this point and wasted a bit of time checking into the hotel...so we debated going to someplace in Healdsburg or somewhere else for our last tasting. I mentioned VML was having live music, so we thought it would be a nice pick-me-up. Anyhow, glad we went...if nothing else for the ambiance and grounds. I thought their Rose of Pinot Noir was very good and I also liked their Sav Blanc.
5. Dry Creek: Again, beautiful grounds with vine-covered buildings (although no view). Very friendly server. Nothing in particular stuck out as being amazing, although the selection of whites was great and they are very affordable. I thought the Chenin Blanc was the best.
6. Preston: Fun little place...you feel like you are getting lost driving to it! Very peaceful grounds since you are so far off the beaten path. This winery definitely stuck out for the unique wines they have. Definitely not your typical Northern California winery. Great whites, great reds, great olive oil, and hopefully great jams! The Rousanne stood out as a first taste for me.
7. Merry Edwards: After having Lymar's Pinots and really loving them...and hearing SUCH amazing things about ME, perhaps I went in with higher than normal expectations. Now, don't get me wrong. Still amazing Pinots. But I expected something to really knock my socks off. Not sure I got that with ME....and I can't even put my finger on it. I do think their Sav Blanc was everything and then some that it was billed as. I have no idea what the magic formula is, but I suspect it's being aged in neutral oak? (opinions on this one??) However, it is a strange tasting room. Literally an office...and tastings are literally in a board room (I read this ahead of time, but feel like people exaggerate sometimes!). I thought it was an odd set-up, but I'm sure it works for them. However, the Edwards family seems absolutley lovely. There was a very friendly, talkative younger woman and a gentleman that were in the office. We got to talking to them as we were leaving and they offered to box up all our wines we had bought on the trip for us so we didn't have to do it when we went to mail them. It turned out it was Merry's daughter and husband! I thought that was an extremely nice gester. Yes, we bought wine, but we certainly didn't buy them out of their most expensive bottles.
Dutton Goldfield: I think by the time we got here, we were both feeling a little "wined out" after 2 days, lots of travel, Cyrus the night before, and lots of driving around. I thought their Chardonnay was very good, but wasn't overly enamoured with anything else. Again, despite the high reviews of Pinots. But overall very nice.
And I think I'm wined out again after typing all this. I"m so wordy!
Phew! I wish we were up there a few more days. Would have liked to have done more of the recommended wineries--I feel like there was so much more I wanted to try--and definitely would have liked to have hit up Napa.
Thank you so much for reporting back! It really helps to get people's reactions to wineries. Thoughts:
I'm really glad you liked Lynmar. They have very smooth fruit forward wines that I enjoy.
I'm sorry that the experience at Ridge was that rude! I haven't had similar issues but definitely would not have returned if I had your experience.
Based on your thoughts on Merry Edwards, and you liking Lynmar, a thought is that Merry Edwards wines may be too earthy/secondary in flavor for you. It certainly is for me (I have some trouble with old world Pinot by itself - love it with food - but by itself it becomes a tricky thing).
Also, based on liking Lynmar - if you ever do come back I would suggest checking out Dutton Goldfield again when the palate is refreshed. Copain as well.
What the heck...in light of the above list of wineries open on Easter...I'm adjusting. DG and Lynmar both told me they were close when I called about 2 weeks ago. Grrrr. I'll double check on that today before I leave (hopefully). In light of that, here's the new schedule:
Sunce (still gotta go here!)
Ridge Lytton Springs
Williamson Wines ('cause they are open later and right in the village, so we can stop here on the way to dinner)
Dry Creek (keeping them on here despite some recommendations not to since they have such so many whites)
Preston of Dry Creek
Copain (if I think I have time.....I they are appt only on Monday and my husband and I don't want to be on a schedule)
Hopefully it won't change any more, but you never know at this rate!
Also heading to Healdsburg on Sunday. I've been but I'm taking an out of town guest. Other places that are open are Amista (not far from Ridge), and they usually have a chardonnay and sometimes a rose to taste. They are very friendly there.
Also good in downtown Healdsburg - LaCrema (lots of chardonnay) and Stephen & Walker (just one white, an excellent sauvignon blanc).
If you are headed to Preston on Monday, I also recommend Bella.
Thanks for all the advice that keeps coming! I didn't think about limited whites available for tasting.
However, I do really ENJOY the taste of reds, and can drink a little bit--so even if there is only one bottle of white open, I would still be content. I just want to avoid the wineries who have no or maybe only 1 white since half the reason of doing this is to stock up on wines myself...hard to do when you're only buying maybe one bottle of red to every 6 white (still buy reds to bring to parties or open and have 1/2 a glass of at our own parties).
VML, franky, is only on the list because they are one of the few open on Easter! Horrible to say, but they wouldn't be visited otherwise as it seems like nothing in particular stands out.
ML, Lambert Bridge seemed to have a healthy selection of whites...do you just not think they are up to par? Do you think Dutton Goldfield is, despite only having Chards, a better stop over them?
Regarding all day tastings...I'm only about an hour from the Finger Lakes, so I'm pretty used to marathon-hour tasting events and pace myself pretty well (although the tasting experience and way things are set up is SO SO different between the two places!), so I should be fine doing a 10:30-5:00PM day.
Dutton-Goldfield is a terrific winery, with many beautiful vineyard-designate wines, and Dan Goldfield is an enormous talent. Yeah, maybe no fancy views, but the wines are something to behold. I'm an enormous fan.
Merry Edwards is located at nearly the same intersection as Dutton-Goldfield. Merry Edwards is diagonally across the intersection of Frei Road and Gravenstein Highway (Hwy. 116), and just down a bit on 116. Easy to hit both.
Does anyone know if Merry Edwards still shares a space with Mycopia/Gourmet Mushrooms,
the great mushroom company??
Last time I was at Lambert Bridge tasting through the lineup, I didn't find their wines particularly well-made. In light of that, I'd suggest another winery in its place.
re: maria lorraine
I would cut Dry Creek Vineyards and Lambert Bridge before cutting DG, Lynmar, Copain or Merry Edwards. I realize that Preston is out that way, so it would be nice to visit some other wineries while up Dry Creek, but in my head both Lynmar and DG are heads and tails above Dry Creek and Lambert Bridge when it comes to whites.
If I had to, and I was a visitor, I would pick Lynmar over DG. Lynmar has a beautiful space, the wines are lovely, and there are many different chards and pinots to pick from (as well as different tasting options). While I don't need pretty spaces in general, it would be a shame for you to not experience how beautiful the area and weather can be (assuming the weather clears up by the weekend). DG is a quick 30 minute stop at the wine bar.
The only way I would flip it, is if price is a consideration. DG wines are wonderfully priced considering how great they are. Lynmar wines are at a substantial premium.
Ok, Copain misled me--they are actually NOT open on Easter. So VML is back on the list. We'll keep Ridge on there...Portalupi and Williamson will be our backups (but I want that truffle salt....)
For lunch on Sunday (and Monday), I have it down to Oakville Grocery, Bovolo, BarnDiva, Willi's, or Bear Flag Brew Pub.
Monday, our list for wineries is as follows (any input would be great):
Dry Creek Vineyards
Preston of Dry Creek
Copain (appt only for Mondays, I haven't called yet)
Lynmar Estates (cheese pairing tasting)
Am I missing anything good for Monday? These seem to be the best places for whites. I would love to stop at Unti, but they are sold out of their whites, so not sure how I feel about wasting their time since any reds we would buy would be on a very limited scale.
It's a good list ...a little ambitious on Monday. You'd have to be out tasting at 10 am, and hope the last winery you go to is open until 5. And, you'll need to eat as you go along (remember to bring lots of water, cheese/dried meats etc. to snack on). This is how I go tasting and really enjoy it, but it can be exhausting.
If you do end up needing to cut something, I would pick between Lambert Bridge and Dry Creek and cut one of those (both do not have a great focus on whites). I, personally, would cut Dry Creek.
If you have time at the end (and feel up to it), I'd stop by Hartford, Martinelli, or Dutton-Goldfield.
GoldangI95's post contains some good points, and reminds me of something.
There may be a big difference between what white wines are listed on the winery's website,
and what white wines are open for tasting. For example, you're heading into Pinot Noir country and that is the focus, not white wines so much.
Please contact each of your wineries and ascertain what white wines will be open for tasting.
Otherwise, you may be very disappointed to schedule an appointment and drive all that distance to a winery only to discover one white wine to taste. Make sure you tell them only white wines when you make your appointment. Please use the info to re-consider which wineries you are putting on your list.
For example, Lynmar makes four chards, but only one or two may be open for tasting. Their cheese pairing may be paired to the red wines mostly, though many cheeses pair better to whites.
To continue...Merry Edwards makes both a great Chard and a good Sauvignon Blanc, but probably only the SB is available for tasting. And so on.
Is VML's one Chard good enough to warrant a visit? Not sure at all. Same question for Lambert Bridge.
Preston will be still be a good spot, as will Dutton Goldfield for their two chards (I love their wines). Dry Creek makes very good chards, a Musque and Fume Blanc, so there's some variety in your varietal choices -- I think that might be a good stop. I like the other wineries goldangI95 listed also: Hartford for its Four Hearts Chard and other chards, and Martinelli.
But again, please check to see if the open whites at each winery warrant a visit. Sorry for the additional wrinkle in your planning, but I mention it so you won't be repeatedly disappointed later.
You may also want to check the consumer ratings for each winery at cellartracker.com. This is a great resource. In the upper left corner of the website is a search window. Type in the winery name. A search window at the top of the results lets you sort by varietal (choose Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.) to see the scores. Or, you can simply type in a region and a wine, like Russian River Chardonnay and see what the top-ranked wines are.
I'm sure I'll annoy you all by the time this is over! :-)
I decided to take VML off the list--it is slightly out of the way, 7 seemed like a crazy amount, and I can't find a whole lot about them.
Sunce -- I'd like to hear more about this winery. I'm thinking of keeping it on the list for the fact my husband always appreciates the chance to reminisce about the motherland. It seems as if their wines, however, are not necessarily thought of as top-notch. But I think it will be worth it if the owner happen to be around and my husband can chit chat.
Copain is a definite yes. DaVero is a definite yes--even though their wines are not necessarily on the top of the list--we're doing this for both the food and the wine aspect.
Ridge and Portalupi -- I'm on the fence about these two. I'm not super set on Ridge, and we're checking out Portalupi on the recommendation of a vitner friend. Has anyone been to both? Preferences on either?
Williamson -- Seems wines are generally thought of as a bit overpriced. But their food pairings have good reviews, and I wold like to check them out. I"m not sure if a few little snacks before dinner at Cyrus will ruin our appetite, or if that would be a good thing to do on our way. They are open later, so I thought would be a good last stop.
I know! Not the best day! But it's what worked best for my friend who we are visiting. She wanted to go with us, and it was the only day. Never fear--I think I have gotten a decent list together. Thoughts? I'm a bit burned out from calling around, so hopefully this has a good lineup of wines.
Sunce (know little to nothing about them, but they are Croatia--as is my husband--so I figured we had to go...plus they are OPEN!)
Davero Wines and Olive Oils
Ridge Vineyards Lytton Spring
Oh--and wanted to say---my husband and I are staying over on Easter night, so we are planning on making our way back and hitting places that aren't open that we want to go to--that list is TBD!
And of course now I can't decided what I want to do on Monday the 9th....back down 101 and diverge to the Glen Ellen area, or head over to Sebastapol? Good wineries in both areas. I did really want to visit Merry Edwards for the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot. But there also seem to be some good options to the east.........oh, too many wineries and too little time :-/ I wish more was open on Sunday...............who needs Easter brunch with their family?! :-)
I would advise Sebastapol over Glen Ellen. There was a long thread on this a couple weeks back, but it best could be summed up as I think you will get a better selection of well done whites from the tasting rooms around the Sebastapol area than around Glen Ellen.
If it helps with your decision, as a generalization, around Sebastapol for reds will mostly be Pinot, with some Zin or Cab. Glen Ellen will mostly be Cab with some Pinot, Zin.
Thank you so much everyone for all the suggestions! Right now I'm still trying to get a list together for wineries that are open on Easter Sunday. Bad choice of dates, but what can you do??
Preston was the one I was determined to go to originally, and glad to see that it's highly recommended by all of you!
How about BIG winery suggestions with good whites? I'm thinking that I'll have better luck for those being open on Easter...
The Russian River Wine Road organization with member wineries in Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, and Russian River Valley just published a list of wineries open (or closed) on Easter Sunday.
EASTER – Sunday April 8, 2012
Along the Wine Road
Northern Sonoma County, CA
WINERIES THAT ARE OPEN
Acorn Winery by appt.
Amista Vineyards 10:00-4:30
(egg hunt – 10:00-12:00 $10
)Armida Winery 11:00-5:00
Benovia Winery by appt.
Collier Falls 10:30-4:30
Dashe Cellars 10:30-4:30
DaVero Farms & Winery 10-5
Forth Vineyards 10:30-4:30
Francis Ford Coppola 11:00-6 Rustic Restaurant 11-9
Freestone Vyds. w/art display
Geyser Peak 10:00-5:00
Hart’s Desire Wines 11:00-4:30
Inman Family Wines 11:00-4
J. Keverson 11:00-4:00
Kachina Vineyards 11:00-4:00
Kendall-Jackson Healds 10-5:00
Lago di Merlo Vyds. & Winery
LaCrema Tasting R 10:30-5:30
Locals Tasting Room 11:00-6
Longboard Vineyards 11:00-6
Lynmar Winery 10:00-5:00
Mercury Wines 11:00-6:00
Merriam Vineyards 10:00-5:00
Mietz Cellars 10:30-4:30
Moshin Vineyards 11:00-4:30
Mueller Winery 11:00-4:00
Peterson Winery 11:00-4:30
Philip Staley Vyds. & Winery
Portalupi Wines 10:30-4:00
Porter Creek Vyd. 10:30-4:30
Ridge Vineyards 11:00-5:00
Roadhouse Winery 11:00-7:00
Russian Hill Estate 10:00-4:00
Russian River Vineyards 11-5 Corks Restaurant @ RRV / Brunch
Selby Winery 11:00-5:30
Sheldon Wines by appt.
Stephen & Walker 11:00-7:00
Sunce Winery 10:30-5:00
Taft Street Winery 11:00-4:30
Tara Bella Winery by appt.
Teldeschi Winery 1:00-4:00
Thumbprint Cellars 11:00-6:00
Toad Hollow 10:30-4ish…
Topel Tasting Rm. 11:00-7:00
Truett Hurst 10:00-5:00 music
VML Winery 11:00-5:00
VML 1:00-5:00 music
West Wines 11:00-4:00
Williamson Wines 11:00-7:00
W2 Williamson 11:00-6:00
WINERIES THAT ARE CLOSED
Alexander Valley Vineyards
Battaglini Estate Winery
Bella Vineyards & Caves
Carol Shelton Wines
Cellars of Sonoma
Christopher Creek Winery
Clos du Bois Winery
D’ Argenzio Winery
David Coffaro Winery
De La Montanya Winery
Dry Creek Vineyard
Dutcher Crossing Winery
Dutton Estate Winery
Everett Ridge Winery
Field Stone Winery
Forchini Vyds. & Winery
Göpfrich Estate Winery
Graton Ridge Cellars
Hanna Winery Alex. Valley
Hanna Winery, RR Valley
Harvest Moon Winery
Hook and Ladder Winery
Hop Kiln Winery
Iron Horse Vineyards
John Tyler/Bacigalupi Vyds
J. Rickards Winery
Kendall-Jackson Wine Ctr.
Korbel Champagne Cellars
Lost Canyon Winery
Manzanita Creek Winery
Martin Ray Winery
Medlock Ames Winery
The Meeker Vineyard
Mill Creek Vineyards
Mounts Family Winery
Papapietro Perry Winery
Paradise Ridge Winery
Pech Merle Winery
Preston of Dry Creek
Quivira Vyds. & Winery
Raymond Burr Vineyards
Robert Rue Vyd. & Winery
Robert Young Estate
Rodney Strong Vineyards
Sbragia Family Vineyards
Seghesio Family Vineyards
Silver Oak Cellars
Soda Rock Winery
White Oak Vyds. & Winery
Windsor Oaks Vineyards
Yoakim Bridge Winery
I third Preston, for both white wines and olive oil. Preston specializes in Rhone varietals, so his white wines are Roussanne and Marsanne blends, and lemme tell you, they are delicious! Especially the Madam Preston, as arlenemae suggested. Also at Preston: freshly baked bread, produce, olive oil, bocce ball and a picnic-ing area.
re: maria lorraine
I just found this thread. I also like Preston a lot, especially for their ambiance and "country" bread which is just delicious especially with their olive oil. But I've been disappointed in their reds the last few times I've been there. Maria, do you find any of their reds particularly good? I'd love to picnic there but don't like the reds I've tried enough to do that.
Out on Dry Creek Road, the David Coffaro Winery is a fun visit to a small winery with lots of character and excellent wines. (7485 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg; (707) 433-9715; www.coffaro.com).
For olive oil, you can go out Westside Road to the tasting room for DaVero. They not only make high quality local Tuscan-style oils, but also wines. (766 Westside Road, Healdsburg; www.davero.com)