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We went wine tasting in Sonoma, so follow along with our adventures at some Sonoma County Wineries!
This last fall we went on a wine tour of beautiful Sonoma County! Sonoma County is one of our favorite places to visit (check out or adventures from last year in the Russian River Valley and at Gloria Ferrer Winery!) Sonoma County wineries are amazing, and have scenery that can’t be beat! Its always a go to destination for us! We went back with our good friends again, (cause we all dig some day drinking with friends!) and always plan on having at least one day where we take a big wine tour.
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There are lots of great ways to take tours around the wineries in Sonoma County, but one of the best is Simply Driven! Simply Driven lets you hire a professional driver (and wine expert) to drive your rental car around on your tour! They can even set up your itinerary for you! We highly recommend Grady, who drove us around and even serenaded us at one of the wineries!
We loved that there was a service that would drive our own rental car! So, It was better than a shuttle or limo (we did that before, and it is fun too!), but we were already paying for the rental! This was just was a great cost effective way of doing winery tours! It also was really handy to have a local who knows wine country and has tons of knowledge about wine! We were picked up at our rental house (We stayed on property at the Thomas George Estates, but that is an article for another day!)
We started our tour “early” in the morning (early in wine country is like 10 am!) at our rental house at Thomas George Estates. Also, it’s located just outside of Healdsburg and right in the heart of Sonoma! One of the great things about Sonoma county is that you might find some real gems just down the road. Sure enough our first winery of the day, MacRostie was just down the road!
Macrostie blew our socks off! It was absolutely beautiful there, and they greeted us as we were getting out of the car in the parking lot with glasses of wine! One of our friends jokingly said to his wife that he expects this kind of service when he gets home from work every day! It was a pretty amazing way to start our day!
We were taken to their patio to start our tasting experience. The tables were set and waiting for us! And, an incredible vista of grapevines and mountains spread out in front of us to enjoy. But, the weather in the morning can occasionally be a little chilly, (wear layers). Therefore, MacRostie even had beautiful blankets and lap rugs available for us if we needed them to chase the chill away! We also were seated by a heater, which was a lovely added touch.
Starting the Wine Tasting
We started our tasting, with our hostess Jordan pouring us a selection of white wines. MacRostie likes to do their tastings in a unique way by doing comparative tastings. They started us with 3 white wines, side by side. These Chardonnays were actually very different, and it was a great way to compare what we liked and didn’t like about the wines. Most of the time with tastings, you get one at a time and it’s easy to forget what you like.
The comparative tasting continued after the Chardonnays, moving on to three Pinot Noirs. MacRostie uses grapes grown from areas around Sonoma County, which bring different characteristics to the selections we sampled. Sonoma County has prime conditions for growing Pinot grapes. Of course the resulting wines crafted by wine maker Heidi Bridenhagen and founder Steve MacRostie were all delicious!
We ended up having a tough time picking which was our favorite. But, I think all 3 couples ended up buying a bottle of the really fantastic Terra de Promissio.
We were sad to leave the beautiful setting around us, but we knew we were headed to the next winery, and then lunch. Yeah lunch! Remember, drink lots of water and make sure to eat while day drinking and wine tasting. You will thank us later!
Fritz Underground Winery
We headed north to Fritz Underground Winery, which is in the Dry Creek Valley. Originally founded in 1970’s in the midst of the energy crisis, the founder Arthur Fritz built the winery with modern efficiency in mind! Built into the side of a massive hill, the winery and almost all of its operations are underground, making for a very unique place to visit!
Why Build a Winery Underground?
Fritz uses a three tiered structure, which cuts down on energy usage by using gravity to their advantage! Starting at the top of the hill the winery is built into, they process the grapes on the crush pad and then let gravity take over! Using gravity to move the wine from the crush pad down a level to the mixing tanks down again to the barrels for aging.
Using gravity to help move the wine around the winery not only is more energy efficient, but it also helps preserve the flavors in the wine. It doesn’t expose the wine to agitation and oxidation that comes from using pumps!
Building a winery underground also saves on cooling costs which is important when making wine. To make good wine, having control of the temperatures as you process the grapes into wine is vital! The temperatures found underground tend to be cooler and very constant. These temps save on expensive air conditioning and refrigeration, which makes Fritz Underground Winery extremely environmentally friendly!
We got a tour of the whole facility, which was such a neat process to see. After the tour, we ended up in the tasting room, of course! We got to try a number of lovely wines (we signed up for the wine club, if that tells you anything!) and even some wine and chocolates together. Then it was time for lunch, yay!
Where did we Eat Lunch in Wine Country?
We ate on Fritz’s patio with the lunch that we had packed (we are totally parents, can’t you tell?!) During lunch we were surrounded by the beautiful rose and flower gardens that overlook the small pond and grounds below the winery. These grounds are home to wildlife, and if you are lucky you might even see the wild turkeys that adorn the winery and logos on Fritz’s bottles!
So, after a nice lunch and a round of water bottles for all of us, we loaded up the car and headed out for the last stop of the day, Silver Oak Alexander Valley.
Silver Oak Winery
Fans of wine know Silver Oak Napa is a legendary winery. Silver Oak is famous for its amazing tasting room just outside of Oakville (and the famous Oakville Grocery) in the Napa Valley. Silver Oak Alexander Valley had just opened a few months before, and we were excited to check out this new property.
We were wowed by the beauty of the new building and winery which is set in some incredible scenery! After tasting some of famous red wines while enjoying the views from the patio, we headed back to our rental house.
If you are going to wine country, we recommend renting a VRBO Rental Location to stay at!
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