Chardonnay grown in Sonoma Coast region makes its own statement
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 5:13 p.m.
Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast appellation can be as refreshing as the surf.
SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY TOUR
1. Hirsch Vineyards, www.hirschvineyards.com, 847-3600, 45075 Bohan Dillon Road, Cazadero, tasting by appointment.
2. Flowers Vineyard & Winery, www.flowerswinery.com, 847-3661, ext. 232, tasting by appointment Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
3. Freestone Vineyards, www.freestonevineyards.com, 874-1010, 12747 El Camino Bodega, Freestone, tasting room open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4. Hartford Family Winery, www.hartfordwines.com, (800) 588-0234, 8075 Martinelli Road, Forestville, tasting room open daily 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
5. Iron Horse Vineyards, www.ironhorsevineyards.com, 887-1507, 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, tasting room open daily 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
6. Paul Hobbs Winery, www.paulhobbswinery.com, 824-9879, ext. 21, tasting by appointment Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed weekends and holidays.
7. Graton Ridge Cellars, www.gratonridge.com, 823-3040, 3561 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, tasting room open every day but Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
8. Lynmar Estate, www.lynmarwinery.com, 829-3374, 3909 Frei Road, Sebastopol, tasting room open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
9. Dutton Goldfield Winery, www.duttongoldfield.com, 823-3887, 3100 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, tasting room open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
10. Red Car Wine Co., www.redcarwine.com, 829-8500, 8400 Graton Road, Sebastopol, tasting room open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
11. Marimar Estate, www.marimarestate.com, 823-4365, 11400 Graton Road, Sebastopol, tasting room open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Many of the wineries that are roughly in the Highway 116 corridor west to the ocean make a striking chardonnay from grapes in that region, whether they produce a Sonoma Coast label or simply use Sonoma Coast fruit in their wine.
If you want to make a day of tasting near the surf, a good place to start is Freestone Vineyards (soon to be renamed Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyard) off Bohemian Highway at 12747 El Camino Bodega.
“On Saturday and Sunday we typically have about 40 people tasting each day,” said Steven Truter, assistant tasting room manager. “We're fortunate because we're right on the way to Bodega Bay and a lot of people stop in. It doesn't hurt being next to Wild Flour Bakery. ... That being said, we are kind of at the end of the rainbow.”
Freestone Vineyards makes a trio of Sonoma Coast chardonnays: The 2010 Fogdog is $35, the 2010 Ovation is $45 and the 2009 Freestone Vineyards is $55.
“What's great is that all of the chardonnays are different,” Truter said. “The Fogdog is bright and crisp, a porch swing kind of wine. The Ovation is a touch creamy but it's made with coastal fruit so it still has crisp acidity. The Freestone Vineyards is the top dog with gorgeous layers of flavors. It's the most Burgundian of the chardonnays.”
Each of the chardonnays, while unique, has a coastal signature, Truter said.
“The big thing is the beautiful acidity you get in all the chardonnays,” Truter said. “I particularly like the brightness of chardonnay you get on the coast.”
Thanks to the fog, these chardonnays are buoyant.
“When the fog rolls in, guys actually get wet pulling leaves,” said assistant winemaker Justin Ennis.
And Damian Parker, the winemaker of Freestone Vineyards, said the fog “gives you time.”
“It slows everything down,” Parker said. “Not too hot. Not too cold. It's really a nice ripening curve. There's no L.A. driving as fast as you can just to stop and brake. Then when it turns green, you drive as fast as you can. (The fog) makes it a leisurely drive.”
Ennis said the Sonoma Coast Appellation, which runs from the Sonoma-Marin border north all the way to the Mendocino County line and inland a bit, is in some ways misleading to the consumer.
“The more authentic representation of the Sonoma Coast are the wineries closer to the ocean that have a longer season,” Ennis said.
Marimar Torres, the owner/vintner and team leader of Marimar Estates in Sebastopol, agreed that the Sonoma Coast Appellation is confusing.
“Sonoma Coast is huge and it has so many micro-climates,” Torres said. “It doesn't make much sense.”
Torres' winery is 10 miles from the ocean and she said she strives for elegance and finesse over boldness and extraction in her chardonnays.
“People come to our tasting room and expect fruit bombs,” Torres said. “I like to think I make chardonnay for people who don't like chardonnay.”
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.