From Redding, CA we continued our jaunt down I-5 for about another hour then veered off onto Hwy20 for a drive which would take us over the mountains and around Clear Lake. Clear Lake is the largest freshwater lake completely contained inside the US. It is 19 miles long . . .yeah I can confirm that. There are also several small communities and towns along the way around the lake.
We eventually made our way into Mendocino County and the real beginning of our Sonoma Wine adventure.
Our first stop is Parducci Wine Cellars . An impressive monument sign greets us as we pull off the highway into their street . . . but then we pass thru a small community area . . . oh there it is. Their tasting room was in a Spanish style, a nice space and friendly staff.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc – Hints of grapefruit and lemon greet the nose, nice acidity and a clean crisp mid palate finish. Pretty nice . .took one home
2016 Viognier – Roses and citrus aromas, as well as a hint of violet. Creamy mid and very well-balanced.
2016 Rose’ – A blend of Grenache and Syrah . . .light nose, not much there. Starts dry and finishes there quickly. Flavors just disappeared.
2016 Muscat Canelli – Lychee and peach on the nose. Lovely sipper, sweet and creamy. Really nicely balanced. Took one of these home too.
2013 Petite Verdot – Robust dark red fruit aromas greet my nose. Silky mid with flavors that carry thru, a bit dry and a nice lingering finish.
2013 Reserve Red – Bright red and dark fruit dance across the nose. . .Its a party. Satiny smooth and fantastically integrated tannins and acidity. Great all around.
2014 Petite Sirah – Brooding nose . . . loads of dark fruit. And they carry over onto the flavors. Warm like your favorite blanket.
2013 Coro Mendocino – There is a really cool story surrounding the CORO program in Mendocino County. Follow this link to find out more. This is a wonderful blend that centers on Zinfandel . . . I got slightly dried fruit on the nose coupled with dark berries and plums. A silky mid palate and really nicely balanced. The flavors linger for a long time. Great blend and really interesting program.
Next we headed a short way down the road to Testa Vineyards. We discovered some very old vines, really interesting blends, and got to chat for a bit with some local ladies that gave us tons of information about Mendocino County and some great places to check out in Sonoma County. Thanks Dena and Ari for being so friendly, inviting, and for sharing our passion of great wines along side fun experiences.
NV White – This Simply White is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, with a tad bit of Viognier, Muscat and Pinot Gris to round it out. I got hints of pear and citrus with nice acidity. It finishes fruity, crisp and clean.
2016 Rose’ – A blend of Petite Sirah and Grenache. Light strawberry and slightly earthy aromas. Flavor falls off fast. A good patio wine.
2012 Coro Mendocino – Their blend is slightly different from previous. It includes a grape called Charbono. It’s a lighter style Zin based blend. Plenty to like about it.
2014 Black – Nice dark fruit nose, flavors follow. It is hearty and rich, smooth and balanced. Black fruit, earth and soft tannins give this wine a nice full mouth feel.
2014 Petite Sirah – Brooding dark nose, great dark fruit aromas, Smooth mid structure. Like a nice warm blanket.
Our next stop in Mendocino County was Nelson Family Vineyards , Their empire is more than just grapes: plums, olives, as well as other fruit, and even Christmas trees occupy their ranch. But on with the wines . .
NV Brut – 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Nicely balanced and lots of bubbles. Have to take one home.
2015 Pinot Noir – Earthy nose with a mild and light body. Light fruit but very delicious.
2016 Rose’ of Pinot Noir – Lightly floral nose, Dry-ish mid . . Light flavors and finishes dry.
2015 Zinfandel – Jammy nose, loads of dark berries. Very smooth mid, and bursting with those same fruits. Very nice. Taking one home.
2016 Barn Blend – A blend of Cab Sauv, Zin, Petite Verdot, and Viognier. A nice bright nose, dark fruit on both nose and palate and quite nicely balanced. Good show.
2014 Petite Sirah – Bright dark berry fruit aromas with pronounced blackberry flavors. Satiny smooth mid, and a nice lingering finish.
2015 Orange Muscat – Gorgeous aromas of tropical fruit and floral scents, A superb summer wine. I think this was my wife’s fave . .so of course one is going home.
2016 Vernache – This one is quite unique. They fermented Viognier about 3/4 of the way and stopped the process to leave residual sugars behind. This dessert wine is very crisp and bright, not cloying sweet at all. Really nice citrus overtones as well as peach. Very refreshing, a good palate cleanser. This one is also going home.
2015 Ice Riesling – Suffice it to say . .very flavorful . .but very sweet.
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – Plummy and Jammy dark fruit and a satin-smooth mid to finish. Very nice.
2014 Top Row Cabernet Sauvignon – Grown at a higher elevation than the classic. It still has a similar aroma profile, but the mid palate is more complex, a bigger texture and a bit more tannins. Quite excellent.
2014 Petite Verdot – Beautiful dark fruit aromas, very aromatic with a satin-smooth mid palate . . .Glorious dark fruit thru to the finish.
This winery was a big surprise. I almost didn’t choose to stop here. I am very glad we did. In fact we ended up joining their Wine Club. I didn’t think I’d ever join a club where I’d have to have wine shipped. This one is really worth it. Everything was superb.
Our last stop of the day was the most elegant. We had to see Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The resort is so much more than wine: the grounds and architecture, memorabilia, swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and tasting room. The movie memorabilia is showcased around the tasting room and gift shop in the themes of the movies for which Coppola is most remembered: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Tucker, Marie Antoinette, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and more . . . a museum to his art. We even got up-close to his many awards, including several Oscar statues. The restaurant is very nice and casual; the dishes we ordered were superb. An all around great experience. I had only been familiar with their Diamond Collection before our visit today, but they have a lot to offer. Our tasting was centered around the Director’s Cut series.
2016 Director’s Cut Sauvignon Blanc – Bright fresh tropical fruit notes, carrying into the palate. Nicely balanced and crisp on the palate. Very nice.
2015 Director’s Cut Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – Strawberries and earth greet the nose. A silky smooth mid and medium body carry those fruit flavors thru. Excellent balance that finishes ever so slightly acidic.
2014 Director’s Cut Dry Creek Zinfandel – Dark jammy fruit up front, dark cherries and plums dominate with a satiny smooth mid palate texture. And that great fruit carries over well onto the palate. The finish is excellent and lingers a long time. *14.5% Alcohol . .slightly higher than most.
2013 PitaGora – A red blend consisting of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Petite Verdot. So much going on with this one. Great nose with a mix of red and dark fruit. Medium body and great texture. Finishes dry.
2014 Technicolor Red – Similar nose to the PitaGora with a slightly more subdued mid palate and with a more feminine style . . . and really delicious. Taking one home.