Ros?is the quintessential hang-out wine, a mellowed out, light, cold quencher with the body of a serious red wine ? as that?s how it starts ? and the soul of a knock-it-back beer.
So it makes sense that right about now ros? begin popping out all over tasting rooms with inviting outdoor spaces, come-hither invitations to sit back, sip generously and relax. Here?s where:
<b>Cline Cellars ? </b>Sprawling Cline Cellars in Carneros has always been a go-to spot on a summer?s day, its expanses of lawn, rose bushes and quiet picnic spots the ideal first or last stop whenever tasting, but it also offers an unusual Mourvedre Ros?($15), what it calls ?the quintessential breakfast wine.?
The mourvedre is grown at Cline?s Oakley Ranch in Contra Costa County, some of the older plantings of the Rhone-pedigreed type found in the New World. Skins are removed by pressing before fermentation even begins, leaving just a tiny bit of tannin and color.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 24737 Highway 121, Sonoma, 940-4030, www.clinecellars.com.
<b>Heitz Wine Cellars ?</b> Legendary Napa Valley vintner Joe Heitz opened his modest winery along not-yet-busy Highway 29 back in 1961.
After years expertly churning out 100-percent cabernets for which Heitz became globally known (think Martha?s Vineyard), that first Heitz facility now serves as the winery?s gracious tasting room, with a tranquil back patio that overlooks some of its older cabernet plantings.
The year 1961 is also when the Heitz family bought its first 8-acre vineyard, planted unusually to grignolino, ?the little strawberry,? as it?s known in its native Italy.
Heitz continues to make three wines from these grapes, a red table wine, a port and, your mission should you decide to accept it, a ros?($18.50).
Open daily 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 436 Highway 29, St. Helena, 963-3542, www.heitzcellar.com.
<b>Inman Family ? </b>Inman?s Russian Ros?of Pinot Noir ($25) from its Olivet Grange Vineyard in the Russian River Valley is nicknamed, ?Endless Crush,? since winemaker Kathleen Inman and her husband, Simon, were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary the day they harvested the Olivet Grange pinot noir that first led to this bottling back in 2004.
It?s also because the wine harkens to a romantic picnic the two took in Provence many years before, one infused with the sweet memories of local cheese, bread, fruit and, of course, ros?
Inman makes the wine on its own, pressing the grapes and resulting in a delicate, dry, crisp wine. Open Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment.
5793 Skylane Blvd., Suite C, Windsor, 395-0689, www.inmanfamilywines.com.
<b>Keller Estate ? </b>Atop the fog-swept hills east of Lakeville Highway, Keller Estate produced a 2008 La Cruz Vineyard Ros?($28), returning this year to making the wine from pinot noir grapes instead of syrah, as they had done the year before.
Winemaker Ross Cobb is a dedicated craftsman of cool-climate pinot noir, and this ros?shines with its notes of strawberry and tangerine.
Open sparingly, the winery?s expansive outdoor patio won?t disappoint. Open Friday and Saturday by appointment. 5875 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, 765-2117, www.kellerestate.com.
<b>Nicholson Ranch ? </b>Just in time for summer, Nicholson Ranch is pouring its 2008 Ramona Ros?of Pinot Noir ($22) in its tasting room.