Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tasting Sonoma

Beginning in the late 1800s many Italian immigrants settled in the Sonoma Valley, which reminded them of their home country, and transplanted their wine making expertise to their new country.

Since that time, dozens of wineries have sprung up across the verdant valley where much of the wine experience is about small operations, small batches, and a family’s dedication to producing the best wine possible from one generation to the next. Today, travelers may visit hundreds of wineries throughout the region, for experiences that are as diverse as the wineries themselves.

Morning sun warms my face as I savor a heady Cabernet and watch the pruning of the vines, on a dew-kissed hilltop at Passalacque Winery – a fourth-generation operation. At Seghesio Family Vineyards, I taste and purchase a crisp and rare white Arneis from the Italian Piedmonte grape, as spunky matriarch, Rachael Ann Seghesio, tells the story of the family operation, which began five generations ago in 1895.

At Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, owned by Scott and Lynn Adams, I sip a full-bodied syrah in manmade caves amidst 400 oak barrels and a rock-walled tasting room. At Dutcher Crossing the ’05 Merlot combines a weedy nose with soft tannins. Although I’ve barely scratched the surface my brief trip has ended, leaving plenty more tasting opportunities for my next visit.

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