Why did I decide to travel to Ram’s Gate Winery to do a story on how winemakers and owners choose a wine barrel? In my 11 years in and around the wine industry, people have often asked me about barrels, yet related to the surface details, like whether a winery uses French oak, or 100% new oak, how many months does the wine age in oak, etcetera. Well, there are so many other details involved with barrel selection and how they can be used, it will make your head spin!

So, if your head hasn’t been spun in a while, listen in to my conversation with Joe Nielsen. He’s as smart as he is chill, which allows him to easily change hats from the positions of general manager to winemaker, often several times a day at the south Sonoma winery. Before I get into the barrel discussion, I’ll ask him about a topic that’s new to me, pressure bombs. It’s a technique they use as a means to keep an eye on the health and needs of the vineyard. Yet, as it turns out, the method is not nearly as intense as the name suggests. No explosions occur at Ram’s Gate Winery.

Ram's Gate Winery

Joe with Assistant Winemaker Rachel Bordes

A couple of the wines we discussed

Ram's Gate Winery

The 2019 Grenache Syrah, Cellar Note

Ram's Gate Winery

The 2021 Pinot Blanc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see the extensive selection of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay among other varietals visit
RamsGateWinery.com/Acquire

In my mind and according to my palate, they’re all exceptional

 

 

My destination on the wine road today is Sojourn Cellars in the town of Sonoma, CA. The Director of Winemaking Erich Bradley is my guest, who has the opportunity to source grapes from celebrated vineyards in both Sonoma and Napa Counties. His hands-off natural winemaking style allows the wine to express its own personality. As a result, they speak deeply and eloquently.

The Sojourn Cellars Tasting salon is in a chic renovated historic home, where I joined Erich after hours. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around the saying, “a taste of place” and the term “terroir” you should come away with a better understanding as Erich explains his winemaking style and vineyard choices.  Enjoy this detailed, relaxed conversation as we chill at Sojourn Cellars.

 

One topic of discussion – the 2021 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

and 2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

 

Sojourn Cellars

The newest addition to their portfolio, Sparkling wine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t mention it in the interview but the story of Anne Moller-Racke is one of an immigrant achieving the American Dream. In Anne’s case, it was propelled by two exceptional mentors, and her drive to create something special, like designing a Sculpture Park throughout the rolling vineyards at Donum Estate. She also developed relationships with winegrowers who could provide the grapes she needed to create ideal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Blue Farm Wines. Her impressive career is what prompted me to choose her as the subject for National Women in Wine Day.  To truly understand all that she accomplished in just a couple of decades be sure to listen to the full interview.

 

 

Anne Moller-Racke

Anne’s daughter Hannah who joined us at the table

Anne Moller-Racke

some of the wines we discussed

 

This post with Ravenswood Winery founder Joel Peterson is a bit different than my usual podcast. As the Visual Oral Histories Chair of the Sonoma County Wine Library Association, you may be aware that I began videotaping oral histories as a way to capture the stories of those who made major contributions to the wine industry. We feel it’s imperative to preserve these stories for future generations. Joel Peterson, the founder of Ravenswood Winery and now Once and Future Wine, certainly deserved to be included. This is the audio from his Visual Oral History. If you’d like to see the video click here.

You may have heard the radio interview I posted in 2017 but this interview delves much deeper into his past. Join me in the historic Bedrock Vineyard in Sonoma County with Joel.

 

On this podcast you’ll meet Nate Belden of Belden Barns.

He grew up on a farm but spent a number of his adult years working in New York and San Francisco. After a while he felt the unrelenting tug of country life once again. Although his wife Lauren grew up in New York City, surprisingly, she had a similar dream of living a rural life. But grape growing and Belden Barns wine isn’t their only focus. They partnered with Jenny and Vince Trotter to offer Farmstead Goods. Visit their website here.

Hear how Nate and Lauren’s yearning for country life came true as we talk…in the barn.

 

Belden Barns

The set up in the milking barn.

Belden Barns

There’s a good story about the reason for the Poetry Room. Ask them if you ever see Nate or Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belden Barns

Their vineyard atop magical Sonoma Mountain

 

This dynamic event offers an extraordinary immersive opportunity for wine enthusiasts to taste incomparable wines, visit acclaimed vineyards, meet passionate vintners and growers, and experience the welcoming community spirit of the Sonoma Valley wine region. Top vintners and growers include Hanzell Vineyards, Ram’s Gate Winery, Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, and many more.

I focused on Signature Sonoma Valley on my radio show that aired 3/24/18. The audio is below. I interviewed winemaker Joel Peterson, best known as the co-founder of Ravenswood Winery, and Steve Sangiacomo from the longtime wine growing family in Sonoma Valley who are just about to launch Sangiacomo Wines. You can get their perspective on the weekend and maybe I’ll see  you there Friday, April 6th – Sunday the 8th  Click here for more details and tickets for Signature Sonoma Valley.

 

Signature Sonoma Valley Signature Sonoma Valley

After nearly three decades in Germany promoting her family’s business, Claudia Schug has returned to Northern California to work with her siblings at Schug Carneros Estate Winery. Although Schug is not a household name, German immigrant Walter Schug played an important roll in the growth of Napa and Sonoma’s wine industry. It’s an interesting story Claudia shares about how her father made his way to America for good with his new wife in tow and the few belongings they had all crammed into a VW bug. It’s a tale of the American Dream coming to life for this immigrant family.

 

vw

The new Schug immigrants crossing America.

 

W & G

Walter and Gertrud

 

pond

The lilly pond. A favorite home for frogs and ducks.

view

The beautiful view from the winery.

 

 

South of the town of Sonoma, in the southern end of Sonoma Valley, is a wide open plain with farmland, vineyards, and the flat and wetlands of San Pablo Bay. Nestled back against the tip of the Sonoma Mountains, in the midst of unexpected lush surroundings, is Cline Cellars. It’s a favorite wine and destination for many across the U.S. For 15 years the director of winemaking, Charlie Tsegeletos, has been crafting a great number of wines back behind that oasis, which also includes the Italian varietals for Cline’s other property, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Fortunately for him, the winery sits across the street. Both are enjoyable to visit but are individually unique properties. I reached out to Charlie during a busy harvest but he managed to carve out some time for me.

cline Cellars

The lush surroundings at Cline Cellars

Cline Carp

The descendants of America’s first carp

 

National Rosé Day was June 10th and to mark that occasion I interviewed 3 winemakers who craft distinctive versions of refreshing pink wine. I traveled from Napa Valley (Stewart Cellars) to Sonoma County (Taft Street Winery) and hit Glen Ellen in between (Laurel Glen Vineyard). This is the season for Rosé and over the last few years that style of wine has been getting quite interesting as winemakers search for creative ways to produce it. That’s what you’ll hear on this podcast. So find a warm spot in the sun with a chilled glass of Rosé and let’s get started. Cheers!

 

National Rosé Day

Blair Guthrie of Stewart Cellars

 

National Rosé Day

Mike Martini of Taft Street Winery

 

National Rosé Day

Randall Watkins of Laurel Glen Vineyard

Michael Sebastiani of Highway 12 Winery has been in the vineyards since he was ten, if not younger. In his 20s he began working with Paul Giusto at Viansa Sonoma. While there they hatched the idea of starting their own brand. Highway 12 passes through the iconic vineyards of Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, Los Carneros and Napa Valley. No better name could capture the essence of the wine they wanted to offer. In this podcast you’ll hear what it takes to start and operate a winery as they speak candidly about the challenges and their ultimate success with Highway 12, Carneros Highway and The Highwayman. It’s time to travel On The Wine Road.

 

A Legendary Wine Experience

From the heights of Moon Mountain to the windswept hills of Carneros, Signature Sonoma Valley is an exclusive, two-day immersion into the incomparable wines, acclaimed vineyards and welcoming community of Sonoma Valley. This is the inaugural event and one you will never forget. To learn more click the image below.

 

You’re invited to join me on a foggy morning in May as I meet winemaker and viticulturist Tom Meadowcroft. We walk through the Louvau Vineyard in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. We discuss bloom, his winemaking process and those he respects. In this intimate conversation you’ll feel you’re standing and walking along side of us.

The Meadowcroft tasting room is in Cornerstone Plaza south of the town of Sonoma. I really enjoy his Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and the other wines he crafts.

 

 

tom-meadowcroft-tom

You don’t meet many Scotsmen in Northern California. There aren’t many Scottish winemakers in the U.S., especially those who focus almost exclusively on Syrah but Steve Law of MacLaren Wine embodies all of those characteristics. He’s doing it well having been lauded by Sonoma Magazine and Wine and Spirits magazine. This inspired me to join him in his tasting room after hours to learn about his passion and wine making.

 

Steve Law-MacLaren

Earlier this year I finally had a chance to meet with winemaker Morgan Twain Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co. Over the last few years he’s been making some of the best wine in the world according to Wine Spectator. Learn about his past, the family vineyard and his wine making style.

 

I talk with Jeff Kunde about their century old family history in Sonoma Valley. From mountain top tastings to underground caves there’s much to see at the Kunde Family Estate.

Meet Joe Benziger who left the Benziger Family Winery to make his own small production, hand crafted wine at Imagery Estate Winery. Joe loves producing the lesser grown varieties, many from the Northern Italy region. Join me on his outdoor patio in Sonoma Valley as we talk about his passion.

ImageryEstateWinery_joe

Join me as I walk the vineyard with Peter Mathis. He followed his dream of planting a grenache vineyard. It’s only 7 and half acres but his day job helps pay the bills. That means he works 7 days a week to explore his passion. As the awards indicate, it’s a worthy effort.