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You’ve seen gorgeous pictures of California wineries with scenic views of rolling hills and vineyards as far as the eye can see, and you want to visit. But you don’t know where to find them. Chances are, the beautiful vineyards you’ve seen in pictures are in Sonoma County. But with more than 425 wineries in Sonoma County, how are you supposed to know which are most worth a visit? As California-based experts in the wine industry, we’ve visited all of these wineries ourselves. Let our first hand experience be your guide to the most beautiful wineries in Sonoma County.
Sonoma County is one of the most well-known wine regions in the country. Located in Northern California just above San Francisco, Sonoma County spans from the Mayacamas Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. With almost 60,000 acres of vineyards, Sonoma County is about twice the size of neighboring Napa Valley.
Read the full article from Wineroutes.com HERE
Feb. 9, 2022Updated: Feb. 10, 2022 7:41 p.m.
It’s Saturday morning, which for many Bay Area residents calls for a hiking expedition. But instead of trekking along the sunny cliffs of Marin’s headlands or up the stairs through Dipsea’s fern-filled woods, today’s hike winds straight up between the rows of a vineyard. At the top, there’s no view of Mount Tam, but there’s a shimmering pond encased in vines — and a glass of Cabernet.
This is no regular hike: It’s the first stop along a guided vineyard hike offered at Napa’s Pine Ridge Vineyards, part of a growing number of wellness-related offerings from local wineries.
While it might seem counterintuitive for alcohol brands to lean into wellness, it’s a strategy that’s increasing. Sonoma’s Bartholomew Estate leads horseback rides through its vineyards, while Windsor’s Bricoleur Vineyards offers Sunday yoga classes with optional tastings afterward. Frank Family Vineyards and Clif Family Winery, both in Napa Valley, have each organized Peloton spin classes, in which participants can do post-ride virtual activities such as wine tasting.
Some wineries created these events and experiences during the pandemic as a way to safely connect with their customers outdoors. But the physical activities with wine serve another purpose: They’re a way for wineries not to get left behind by the wellness movement, particularly as wine loses ground to low-calorie, low-alcohol and nonalcoholic alternatives.
Wine, these businesses argue, should be presented as one part of a balanced lifestyle to reach more people. Wellness events can help build brand awareness and introduce new customers to the wines.
“Wine isn’t bad, but it can’t just be about the beverage on its own. It’s about how it fits into other aspects of life,” said Linzi Gay, president of Clif Family. “The more (the wine industry) can promote that and demonstrate that, the better off we’ll all be.”
Napa and Sonoma counties, with their hills and lush parks, have had opportunities to blend wine and outdoor activities for years. Clif Family, owned by the founders of Clif Bar, has run a cycling-theme wine club and bike-and-wine packages out of its St. Helena tasting room since 2011. Randy Johnson founded his company, Getaway Adventures, 30 years ago, leading cycling, hiking and kayak tours through the region — with winery stops sometimes included. When Johnson started, wineries were often wary of his tours; cyclists weren’t considered to be potential buyers.
But there’s been a shift over the past five years. Johnson has seen a rise in wineries incorporating hikes or other physical activity into tastings. Demand for his own tours has been high, he said, with 2021 being his best year in a decade. And wineries no longer scoff at his tour groups, mostly composed of people in their 20s and 30s. Wineries now come to him, asking to partner on tours.
“When they see us coming in, they’re happy to see us,” Johnson said. Millennials “want to buy wine, and often they’ll surprise wineries by how much they buy — sometimes like six cases.”
Many younger customers no longer want to sit for several tastings in a day only to feel drained by the end, said Julie Rothberg, president of Medlock Ames. That’s why the Healdsburg winery recently started an “immersive sound experience” at its 340-acre Bell Mountain Ranch. Visitors can walk through the property while listening to meditative sounds recorded at the vineyard. The self-guided tour ends with a tasting and cheese pairing — an outing Rothberg calls “the detox and re-tox.”
At Notre Vue Estate Winery & Vineyards in Windsor, visitors are allowed to hike and bike along 17 miles of trails. The estate has also partnered with several local companies for vineyard-view and sunset yoga classes, trail running, and mushroom foraging, all culminating with wine. Often, visitors spend the whole day at the estate instead of visiting other wineries.
Kyle Loughman, Notre Vue’s hospitality lead, said the majority of people using the estate on a regular basis are in their mid-20s to late 30s. Similarly, Carolyn Free, special events manager at Pine Ridge Vineyards, estimated that hiking participants are ages 35 to 40 on average.
Listen to an interview with our Winemaker, Alex Holman discuss the unique opportunities that the Notre Vue Estate & Winery provides.
The estate vineyards are tenderly cared for and are the foundation for our wines that are made with low intervention techniques and from the 16 varietals grown on the property which straddles both the Russian River and Chalk Hills AVA's.
Preserving the natural beauty of the land has always been at the heart of our vision. For this reason, the estate includes 350 acres of protected open space land, preserving the beauty of Notre Vue Estate for generations to come. This synergy creates a harmony that supports the abundant wildlife as well as the natural flora and fauna.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
December 21, 2021
The North Bay is one of the best places in the world to find wild mushrooms, and after the winter rains, it’s one of the best times to forage for chanterelles, black trumpets, lion’s mane, hedgehogs and other incredible edible fungi.
Relish Culinary Adventures will host a Wild Mushroom Foray and Lunch at Notre Vue Winery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 2 and Feb. 5 with forager David Campbell and Chef Julie Schreiber.
Guests must register in groups of at least two people who will sit together for lunch. The four-course menu includes a Rustic Tart with Maitake Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Chevre; Winter Green Salad with Side-by-side-by-side Wild Mushroom Tastes; a Wild Mushroom and Duck Cassoulet with Roasted Winter Greens; and Chocolate Cake with Candy Cap Crème Anglaise and Candy Cap Rum Whipped Cream.
Cost is $194, including three glasses of wine per participant over 21 years old.
TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE PLEASE CLICK HERE
By Rich Cook
I recently had the pleasure of getting out of the house to do a little wine judging in Sonoma County, and I have to say it was a great pleasure not only to hit the road as pandemic restrictions ease a bit and be in the same room with other wine friendly folk, but also to extend for a couple of days and visit a producer in the area. A favorite publicist put me on the scent of Notre Vue Estates, a 710-acre spread just east of Limerick Lane on the south side of Healdsburg that straddles the Chalk Hill and Russian River Valley AVA’s, and it turns out that “scent” is what it’s all about when it comes to the wines produced there.
Purchased by Bob & Renee Stein in 1992 with a vision for producing fine wine, the property currently has 250 acres planted with sixteen different grape varieties, and 350 acres were donated to the Sonoma County Open Space District as a permanent protected “forever wild” reserve. The planted acreage features multiple exposures and microclimates in the rolling hills, and the vineyards are certified sustainable. Their Balverne “Forever Wild” label features value-forward Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir Rosé, with the Notre Vue label featuring high-line Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Rhone inspired offerings.
Current winemaker Alex Holman is an industry veteran, bringing years of US Army and chemistry experience to bear at Keller Estate, Dry Creek Vineyard, Paul Hobbs, J. Rickards and sparkling wine juggernaut Rack & Riddle before joining the team at Notre Vue in 2019. I got to chat with Alex about what he’s been through since joining the estate and his philosophy of wine, and he’s had quite a ride already, having gone through a winery fire in May of 2019, losing 500 barrels and 5000 cases in the blink of an eye; the Kinkade fire post-harvest of that year, where almost 50% of vineyards were damaged; the Glass fire in 2020, which caused the loss of almost the entire vintage to smoke and ash issues; and pandemic induced labor shortages. Even in the face of such calamities, he remains optimistic about the estate and the potential it carries. He’s a true believer that great wine is made in the vineyard, saying “I know how to be a wine doctor, but I try not to have sick patients.” That focus and a keen talent for coaxing deep aromatics and using minimal intervention techniques that let them shine is the estate hallmark.
I checked in with Alex this week for his take on the 2021 harvest, and he was encouraged even in the face of a 25% reduction in tonnage over previous years thanks to ongoing drought conditions in California, plus an atmospheric river event that brought torrential rains during harvest. He reports good color, brighter acidity than the last few years, and solid aroma and flavor profiles across the varieties harvested. Keeping the patient well in 2021 required spoon feeding of water to the vines after deep watering early on – and that’s on an estate that’s usually virtually dry farmed. He also mentioned that they are keeping a weather eye on the 2020 wines that they did go ahead with – dealing with smoke taint is a relatively new science. The smoke taint molecule latches onto sugar molecules and sits dormant in a way, waiting for interplay with a wine’s acid to release a smoky character. Fortunately, insurance stands ready to take the hit if decisions are made to drop part or all the vintage to maintain brand reputation.
We did it. .. We made it through 2020 and there is no better way to celebrate 2021 than with a glass of newly released Notre Vue or Balverne wine!
Alex has been fastidiously caring for the wines in the cellar. We have several new varietal releases to look forward to this year coming in Summer, Fall & in time for the Holidays! A reason to celebrate every season.
We are especially excited about the release of our 2019 Notre Vue Sparkling GSM. A newly designed
bottle screams "let's enjoy life every day" - we can't wait for everyone to love it as much as we do!
Patrick has been quite busy in the vineyards caring for the vines and soil. Look forward to a tour offering with Patrick to learn more about what happens in the vineyards!
We are busy planning a Winemaker's Spring Lunch, Summer Sundays, a White Party, Happy Hours, and more! If you have any suggestions please email us; we would love to hear any ideas!
As always, we want to ensure that your visits to the Estate are as enjoyable and safe as possible. We truly appreciate your understanding as we continue to follow the CDC Guidelines associated with the Coronavirus.
Remember this is your Wine Club; we are happy when we see you come to visit with your family and friends, creating lifetime memories!
-Bob and Renee Stein
Greetings from the Notre Vue Cellar ... It is my pleasure to introduce three new wines to you this spring. The 2019 Notre Vue Sparkling Rose of GSM, which has quickly turned into my all-time favorite Sparkling wine that I have produced in my 20+ year career. I am extremely proud of the GSM program we have developed in my first year at Notre Vue and this wine is truly a fine expression of the unique and versatile qualities of a true Rhone blend program. This wine was fermented cold in stainless steel at 55 degrees, while the secondary fermentation was a relatively short 8 months and a small dosage of 3 g/L sugar at disgorging.
The next release is our 2019 Notre Vue Chardonnay; This is 100% Chardonnay, barrel fermented, utilizing native yeast and sur lie stirring for 5 months in 100% sweet & spicy French oak. My philosophy on this Chardonnay was to create a luscious mouthfeel with a lasting finish where the fruit stands out and the oak plays a complimentary role. This wine has all the attributes for the Chardonnay aficionado but I have also received the highest compliment a winemaker can get "I don't usually like Chardonnay, but I love this one". This wine pairs gracefully with an abundance of different foods but my favorite pairing is "alone with a loved one, watching the sunset". As well, this got a rating of 96 in its most recent wine competition!
Your third selection for this release is the 2019 Balverne Pinot NOir. This wine features 3 different clones, 667, 114 & 459 and is 100% Pi not Noir. Consistent with all my red wines, it is fermented using the native yeast and aged in 100% French oak. My love affair with Pinot Noir is well documented and I'm very pleased with my first bottling of Pinot from this property. As I continue to build my intimate relationship with this Estate the sky is the limit and I look forward to continue producing world-class wines from Notre Vue Estate.
Alex Holman, Estate Winemaker
Greetings from the vineyard ... This year we had tractor drivers planting a diverse cover crop selection that includes a clover mix, daikon radishes and an organic soil building mix of grasses and legumes. The daikon radishes, help to shatter the soil in our no-till property which allows oxygen, water, and roots to easily infiltrate deeply. The clovers and organic soil building mix utilize a natural symbiosis between legumes and a bacterium that lives in their roots which takes atmospheric Nitrogen and fixes it in the soil. This way we are able to cooperate with nature instead of buying fertilizers. As well, all cover crops reduce erosion, which is very important on our hilly property.
2019 Notre Vue Sparkling Rose of GSM $45.00 / 750 ml
52% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 16% Mourvedre
Vibrant and invigorating, this is the first sparkling Rose ever produced by Notre Vue. The combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre provides an alluring mouthfeel with wonderful fruit tones. Subtle aromas of stone fruit radiate from the glass, harmonizing with the tart raspberry and strawberry notes on the palate. Pairs immaculately with fresh peach, goat cheese, and arugula salads, brie with apricot compote, and raspberry sorbet.
2019 Notre Vue Chardonnay $49.00 / 750 ml
A wonderful new addition to our family of Chardonnays, we are happy to announce this brand-new release. Brimming with bright golden apple, Bose pear, and yellow peach, the fruit is balanced by understated touches of caramel, vanilla, and spice. A perfect pairing for seafood lovers, try the 2019 Notre Vue Chardonnay with baked salmon over creamy pasta, seared sea scallops, or grilled sablefish.
2019 Balverne Pinot Noir $45.00 / 750ml
This Pinot Noir is a true reflection of the Russian River Valley and of our Estate. A lush explosion of Bing Cherry and ripe strawberry emanate from the glass, giving way to a complex array of secondary characteristics. Hints of mushroom, forest floor, cedar, and cocoa powder combine with the fruit, delivering a wonderful experience from the first sip until the bottle runs dry. This Pinot works wonders with wild mushroom risotto, aged cheddar or gouda, and grilled chicken with pesto pizza.
Additionally, we planted 4 fallow areas with spring-blooming wildflowers in order to attract beneficial pollinators and predatory bugs that eat vine/grape damaging invertebrates. There should be a great diversity of flowers this spring/early summer that will be both beautiful and a-buzz with good insects.
Currently our team is pruning the vineyard. This year we are starting with our late-ripening varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Petite Verdot because whatever you prune first will typically emerge from dormancy a little earlier due to hormone levels in the plants. By pruning these varieties, we hope to encourage them to wake up a little earlier and that will advance their harvest date correspondingly. We will end our pruning season in the baby vines and in the lowest elevation blocks on the property, which are a little prone to damage in the late spring frosts. By delaying pruning till as late as possible we will be protecting those frost susceptible blocks from waking up until after the risk of freezing has passed.
Here's looking forward to a rainy winter, tall cover crops, and perfect weather during bloom.
From the vineyard,
Patrick Hamilton, Estate Viticulturalist
Fall is in the air and it's one of my favorite times of the year! The leaves are changing to a beautiful shade of red and orange throughout the Notre Vue Estate.
There have been so many exciting things going on at Notre Vue in the last 7 months. Most importantly, Bob's health is back at 1 00% and we have decided to spend more time in Sonoma County and be closer to Jared. We are truly enjoying being in wine country full time!
The wines have been well received by WineEnthusiast, The Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and various publications where we are seeing 90+ point scores and gold medals on Alex's newest wines. Teamwork makes the dream work!
We have a few new team members we would like to introduce:
Jennifer Tusa, Director of Hospitality and DTC - She is available to help you with any venue and event questions and will be making Notre Vue rocking with fun!
Alexandra Reynolds, Brokerage and Wholesale Manager - She will be getting your favorite Notre Vue wines into some of the best spots in Sonoma County.
Peter Wilke, Wine Educator and Sommelier - He's Back! Stop by to say hi and ask him about the new addition to his family (Friday - Sunday)
Patrick Hamilton, Viticulturist- From grape to bottle, it all starts in the soil. Patrick comes to us with a plethora of experience and positivity.
Welcome aboard everyone!
We look forward to seeing you here on your next tasting, hike or private event.
Best wishes, Bob and Renee Stein, Founders
Greetings from the crush pad at Notre Vue Estate. I'm very pleased to present two new releases for you in this fall shipment, the 2019 Balverne Chardonnay and the 2018 Notre Vue Proprietors Red blend. The Balverne Chardonnay is a traditional barrel fermentation with 4 months of sur lie aging in 20% new French oak barrels. This fresh and lively Chardonnay is perfect for all occasions. The second wine is our 2018 Notre Vue Proprietor's Red wine. This is a classical "left-bank" Bordeaux blend made in a traditional manner with all 5 Bordeaux sisters. Not-overpowering, this wine has an abundance of nuanced flavors with a mouth-feel that is smooth as silk. Ready to drink now but this wine will be magical with some time in the bottle. The third wine in your shipment is the 2019 Balverne Rose of Pinot Noir. With all the accolades the Notre Vue GSM Rose has been getting this summer, this beauty has been quietly getting her scores. Wine Enthusiast just rated this wine at 92 points, which is very close to the ceiling for Rose.
I would also like to make you aware of three more 2019 wines that will be released between now and the Holidays. Our 2019 Balverne Pinot Noir will be released in October and it's an easy-drinking, fruit-driven Pinot. Stay tuned for the next release party, featuring our new Sparkling GSM Rose just in time for Thanksgiving Dinner. Finally, we will complete the GSM program with our spicy, exotic GSM red wine. This star features 51 % Grenache, 29% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah, co-fermented together using native yeast to create this one-of-a-kind offering. Rounding out our one-year programs will be the Notre Vue Pinot Noir & Chardonnay, to be released sometime in December. 2019 Zinfandel, Petite Si rah, and Bordeaux varieties will be blended and bottled next spring and summer.
From the whole team at Notre Vue, please be safe and we hope to see you soon.
Alex Holman, Winemaker
Alex Holman, Estate Winemaker
I'd like to introduce myself, my name is Patrick Hamilton and I was hired as the Estate Viticulturalist in August and look forward to meeting everyone! Within the first week of coming on board we had our first Pinot Noir harvest and I hit the ground running! This year we have three harvest interns and a great, experienced in-house team helping bring me up to speed. It is a year unlike any I've seen before. We are doing our best through this challenging harvest and looking towards how to proceed post-harvest with a positive future in mind.
If you see me on the estate, feel free to stop me and ask any questions!
Always, Patrick Hamilton, Viticulturist
2019 Balverne Rose of Pinot Noir $24.00 / 750 ml
This delicate wine offers aromatics reminiscent of watermelon, orange rind, and morning roses. Fruity on the palate, the crisp acidity balances flavors of strawberries, guava, and white peach. Try this Rose with a fresh goat cheese salad, seafood, or lightly grilled summer fruit. Be careful, though ... it's so refreshing that on a hot day you'll be reaching for that second bottle in no time!
2019 Balverne Chardonnay $35.00 / 750 ml
Our 2019 Balverne Chardonnay displays aromas of ripe green & golden apples, lemons, butterscotch, and marshmallow. The rich palate follows with a variety of orchard fruits, melons, lemons, and a lingering hint of spice. Full-bodied but still crisp, this wine will pair beautifully with everything from roast chicken to summer fruit salads.
2018 Notre Vue Proprietor's Red Blend $59.00 / 750 ml
The 2018 Notre Vue Proprietor's Red Blend is a classic combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. It offers aromas of black currants, plums, elderflower liqueur, pencil shavings, and vanilla bean. The palate follows with cassis, ripe red fruits, chocolate, and firm tannins.
Jennifer here! Following the safety protocols that COVID has set into our new world has been new terrain; however, what a beautiful place to escape to here at the Estate. I've come up with some new micro-events in case you're in the mood to host a small soiree on The Terrace on Block 23 or at the Lakeside Pavilions for any occasion, as we've certainly figured out how to host each of you safely. Please reach out for lunch, dinner, or social noshes.
In case you weren't aware of some recurring events, here's a list:
Tuesday Nights - Yoga with Venus Harper, owner/instructor of Samadhi Sanctuary Yoga & Wellness. Best class ever! Dustin Saylor brings his live music followed by a tasting of our wines.
Strike a pose, take a hike, enjoy a sip - Wellness & Hiking Series hosted by Dawn Justice, an instructor at ParkPoint Health Club
Check our website for current and updated event information!
Paired with 2018 Notre Vue Proprietors Red Blend
For the Polenta:
Bring chicken stock to a boil and whisk in 1 cup of polenta. Return to a boil, whisk vigorously, and lower heat to a simmer. Continue whisking until cooked. Add grated parmesan cheese, combine, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Spread the polenta into an even layer about 3/4" thick, let cool, then chill completely.
For the Plum Sauce: Puree the plums with a bit of water to thin. Pass the pureed mixture through a sieve to remove large pieces, then through a fine sieve to remove smaller pieces. Set aside. Sweat shallots, thyme, and black pepper in a small saucepan until they are soft and fragrant. Add ₣ cup of ruby port wine, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon and let reduce for a minute or so. Add the reserved plum puree and bring it to a simmer. Season with more black pepper, finely chopped thyme, and salt to taste. Add a splash of lemon juice to balance the sauce. Run the whole mixture through a fine sieve one last time. Swirl in a spoonful of demi-glace and place in a small saucepan to keep warm.
For the pheasant:
Remove the pheasant from any packaging and rinse thoroughly. Chop the herbs very finely, add cracked black pepper, and mix to create an even blend. Rub your fingers liberally with softened butter and gently work the skin away from the meat. Use your fingers again to distribute the herb mixture evenly under the skin. Don't go overboard here. Once you've gotten the herb mixture distributed under the skin, liberally rub the exterior with butter, sprinkle the bird with kosher salt, and truss the legs. Either grill over indirect heat or roast in the oven until cooked - usually about 45 minutes at 425 degrees. After resting, quarter the bird and tent with foil to keep warm.
Cut the chilled polenta into 4" squares and lightly oil one side with olive oil. Grill over medium heat for 2 minutes. Lightly oil the top of each piece and flip, grilling for another 2 minutes. Remove the polenta from the grill, place a quarter bird on the square, and sauce the plate according to your personal preference.
Don't forget to take a picture of your finished plate and tag us on social media!
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