Tag Archives: Gary Farrell Winery

Finding good value in wines and spirits while sheltering

I have struggled lately with trying to find the relevance of writing about wine and spirits during these difficult times. Then, I experienced my first shelter in place happy hour with old friends via Zoom. We spent a virtual hour enjoying a libation, talking current events, sharing health updates, laughing at jokes and maintaining significant social contact.

Life goes on, but we are all going to be doing things differently for a while. After a period of quiet adjustment, many in the food, wine and spirit industries have been creative in developing new courses of action to encourage customer contact, many aimed at convenience and value.

Direct to consumer sales through local wineries and online sites have increased exponentially over the past decade. Today, I am seeing discounts up to 65 percent from sites like Wine Access, wine.com, Wine Express and K&L Wines. Many are featuring good value deals for obscure California wines, creating a ripe environment for exploration and discovery.

One such wine is the D’Alfonso-Curran Loureiro 2018 ($24) from the winemaking team of Bruno D’Alfonso and Kris Curran in Santa Barbara County. I am only familiar with loureiro as a white grape grown almost

Kris Curran and Bruno D’Alfonso

exclusively on the Iberian Peninsula in Spain and Portugal and know that this release has earned good reviews from critics. Its offer at a 30 percent discount spurred me to take a chance on a wine that Wilfred Wong described as “active, dry, fresh and crisp with aromas and flavors of savory spices, chalk, earth and mineral,” characteristics that appeal to my senses.

Cameron Hughes Wine has been a source for high quality, value- priced wines for years. The success of his unique direct to consumer platform as a “négociant” rather than producer, requires that he seek the highest quality wine to offer under his own label at value prices.

One of his current releases is the Cameron Hughes Lot 715 2018 Anderson Valley ($13), a distinctive white blend of gewürztraminer (67 percent) and

Cameron Hughes Lot 715 2018 Anderson Valley

Muscat (33 percent). I have a preference for gewürztraminer and thinking of the added texture and flavor from

the muscat grape, along with the low price, is enough to peak my interest.

I am also finding good discounts on bottles and cases from various California and Pacific Northwest wineries. Of note, Oregon’s Bergström Wines and Fort Ross Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, both notable producers of pinot noir and chardonnay, are offering sets and cases of new releases at savings more than $100.

While tasting rooms are closed, wineries are not only offering tremendous discounts, but novel virtual tastings opportunities. Locally, Hall Wines, Frog’s Leap, St. Supery in the Napa Valley and Gary Farrell Vineyard and Winery, Halleck Vineyards and Inman Family Wines in the Russian River Valley have put together a series of interactive virtual tasting options, complete with sommeliers.

Gary Farrell is offering virtual tastings that feature their wines from the Russian River Valley and another that includes top vineyards outside the appellation like Gap’s Crown and Durell. Each package includes up to six bottles, sent to your homes prior to a tasting led by sommeliers Tiffany Kuhn and Kevin Patterson via Zoom. Details on all options are available on the wineries individual websites.

Sourced Craft Cocktails, a company best known for providing quality spirits for large events and special tastings, has developed an interim program during this period of social distancing and mandatory home sheltering designed to put bartenders and mixologists back to work with bottled cocktail delivery. Through their website, Bay Area customers can order from a menu of bottled cocktails that will delivered directly to their homes. Each selected package, yielding up to twelve drinks, includes a 750ml bottle of the selected spirit, a sealed bottle of mixers made from fresh fruit and juices, a jigger and cups.

Among the eight different cocktail options available, Whoa, Black Betty (Grey Goose Vodka, fresh squeezed lemon juice, homemade blackberry syrup, shaken and topped with sparkling water), Irish Goodbye (Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, Chameleon Cold Brew, homemade maple simple syrup, and oat milk) and Black Cherry Old Fashioned (Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, homemade cherry syrup, and burlesque bitters) are just a few. Each order received by 3PM will be delivered the same day by a local bartender.

In addition to delivering high quality spirits during a time of need, Sourced Craft Cocktails donates a portion of the proceeds to the USBG Bartender Relief Fund.


Tasting “Sonoma Strong”

 

Sonoma County has experienced tragedy from the recent fires.  There was loss of life and property and we all see areas of scorched earth where beauty once prevailed. The land will recover and the community has begun the healing process with an outpouring of community support.

Staff at Merry Edwards Winery

Thanks to the efforts of firefighters and other public service personnel, most of the landscape remains unchanged, including our famous vineyards.  Sonoma County is open for business and the experience of great wine, food and natural beauty is very much intact. The following recommendations are intended to deliver it all for a memorable day-trip.

The first stop is a late morning reserved tasting at Limerick Lane Cellars, named for their street of origin, on property south of Healdsburg.  Since the Limerick Lane

Limerick Lane Winery

Zinfandel Russian River Valley 2012 (94-pt) placed #12 on Wine Spectator’s 2015 Top 100 list, their wines have become recognizable and highly rated. Currently, visitors can enjoy the 2015 Russian River Valley Zinfandel, the 2015 1910 Block Zinfandel (94-pt),a specialty field blend and the wonderful 2015 Syrah Grenache, a Rhone blend with a pinch of petite sirah added.

There are a plethora of good lunch opportunities in trendy Healdsburg, a few blocks north of Limerick Lane  Two of my favorites are The Shed, offering a delightful farm to table menu and Barndiva, with aesthetic patio dining.

Leaving town and traveling west, Healdsburg Road, passing over  Highway 101, soon intersects with the iconic Westside Road that weaves through the heart of the Russian River Valley.  Not all estates along Westside Road are open to the public,

Patio tasting at Gary Farrell

but MacRostie Vineyards, Gary Farrell and Thomas George Estates offer special tasting experiences that focus on cool climate chardonnay and pinot noir.  All of their single-vineyard releases feature noted local vineyards like Olivet, Durrell and Wildcat Mountain

They all offer a broad menu of tasting experiences, held in modish settings, that are

Gary Farrell Chardonnay Durrell Vineyard 2013

both exceptional and pricey.  Indulge yourselves while enjoying fine wines like the 2014 Gary Farrell Durrell Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Valley (94-pt). Reservations are required at each.

The continuing drive along Westside Road is a virtual feast for the eyes, passing through gorgeous redwoods, oaks and vineyards like Allen, Bacigalupi and Bucher that source grapes to many of the valley’s producers.  As with previous vintages, the medium-bodied 2015 Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir, sourced from these and other nearby vineyards, has a rich mouthfeel with berry and spice flavors that pair well with my palate.

Hacienda Bridge

Driving south along Westside Road requires crossing the one-way Hacienda Bridge that affords splendid views of the Russian River. Soon, Westside becomes Wohler Road moving south to River Road, toward the Highway 116 wineries.  This is a good time set your GPS for Merry Edwards Winery on Gravenstein Highway North (116) near Sebastopol.

With consistent great releases from an iconic winemaker, poured in a private setting,

Merry Edwards Winery is unsurpassed. The free tasting treats you to more highly-rated single vineyard pinot noir, chardonnay and something more.  The 2016 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley, as well as previous vintages, is arguably the best sauvignon blanc in California. Stable ratings in the mid-nineties and multiple appearances on Wine Spectator magazines Top 100 Wines List substantiates it’s reputation. Several lees-stirrings and the addition of sauvignon musque adds richness to the complex flavor profile of stone and tropical fruits with expressive mineral notes on the finish.  The golden color and floral aromas alone earned a reserved place in my small cellar.

Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

Another nearby option is Dutton-Goldfield, serving more chardonnay, pinot noir and the rich, balanced 2014 Dutton-Goldfield Cherry Ridge Vineyard Syrah, using forty-percent whole cluster grapes from a warmer vineyard to create a soft, velvety texture.

Zasu at the Barlow, featuring pork dishes, Jamaican food at Revibe or seafood at Handline provide options for an early dinner in Sebastopol.

Sonoma wineries are surely open for business and many are dedicating profits to help fire victims.  Come enjoy some of the finest wines on the planet and help Sonoma County rebuild itself.  Your taste buds will thank you.