Wine of the week: Sonoma County winemakers share their best bottles’ backstories

Our year-end compilation of some of the best wine-of-the-week winners reveals that 2017 had some very impressive bottlings.|

O ur year-end compilation of some of the best wine-of- the-week winners reveals that 2017 had some very impressive bottlings. What follows is a little insight into the winemakers behind the brands.

Montse Reece crafted the Pedroncelli Cabernet, 2015 Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County at $20, and she follows a food-friendly cab model. “Cabernet sauvignon doesn’t need to be a huge wine that’s hard to pair with some meals. It can be a very food-friendly wine if it’s made in a lighter style ... ’m looking for a European style of cabernet sauvignon - dry, good acidity, minimal oak, and moderate alcohol. It’s a wine to be consumed with food and also good for aging.”

Roger Roessler produced the Black Pine Pinot Noir, 2015 Sonoma Coast at $30, and the restaurateur turned vintner said pinot noir is a delectable food wine. After 30 years of owning and operating 23 independent restaurants, Roessler said “It became clear to me that pinot noir separated itself from other wines when it came to pairing them with food. She’s elegance, delicacy and finesse all wrapped into one. While each vintage brings its own set of challenges, she rewards patience.”

Scott Johnsen is behind the Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet, 2014 Alexander Valley at $27, and he said his intent is to bottle an appellation. “We’re always looking to represent the place where these grapes were grown with a varietally-correct clarity of flavors. For Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon, that means getting the rich, ripe dark fruit flavors as well as the layered earthy, herbal notes, balanced by the great acidity and tannin structure.”

Joe Nielsen produced the Donelan Grenache, 2015 Sonoma County at $50, and he said the varietal has verve. “Grenache is a winemaker’s grape. It’s hard not to say yum to a well-made grenache. There’s something quenching about it. It’s savory and fruity. I like a wine with balance and structure. Grenache has all those elements ... Our secret is patience. Time often makes a thing clearer, knowing when to act and when to wait.”

Ryan Hodgins is the winemaker behind the Fel Pinot Noir, 2015 Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley at $70, and he said the most gratifying part of producing pinot is “crafting something sublime. I have the privilege of overseeing one of the most renowned pinot noir vineyards in California ... I trust that the site will consistently produce truly exceptional wines year in and year out.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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