Thursday, May 20, 2010

THE LONG & WINE-ING ROAD - Day 6 Wineries

Day 6

Full from our lovely lunch at The Girl & The Fig, but wine-deprived -- Bob, Richard and I hit the wine-ing road in search of a liquid remedy.

Our first stop: Kunde, a winery established in 1904. It was still raining when we parked the car and ran past the beautiful reflecting pool into a lovely modern structure… a 21st century take of the original Kinney Brook Ranch & Farm cattle barn, now the site of the tasting room.

The interior did have a ‘barn-like’ feel and was very welcoming. Highlights included areas to lounge and a private tasting room where you can get 3 cheeses & crackers and truffles while tasting Kunde’s ‘Grand Estate” selections ($20 tasting fee). We chose to ‘saddle-up’ to the long bar and handed over our free tasting coupons for the $10 per person tasting.

As we sipped, we learned that Kunde is a ‘green’ winery

and is still family-owned after all these years.

(the family)

The winery’s 850 acres (700 of which are planted) surround the winery and the vineyards and are sustained by recycled water collected on a reservoir on the property. The tasting room was built in l989 from recycled materials and by incorporating other environmental considerations. Once a year, Mary, the tasting room’s petite manager, gets into a cherry picker and is lifted high in the air to vacuum the rafters whether they need vacuuming or not.

(the rafters)

Six wines were on ‘our’ flight – all were good, but two made my mouth sing, “Hallelujah.”

The 2007 chardonnay – Kinneybrook Vineyard ($26) boasts of baked apples and butterscotch w/ a hint of toast. I usually just smile in skepticism when I hear people say they taste these kinds of flavors in wine – but I really tasted the butterscotch. I love butterscotch!!!

Of the red wines, the 2004 cabernet sauvignon – Drummond Vineyard ($60) was a wine to write home about. Described as having black raspberry and boysenberry flavors w/ a hint of cedar and a rich chocolate ‘accent’ – my skepticism returned – I always taste berries in wine. Don’t you? But that chocolate ‘accent’ was there! Yum.

(hand-etched bottles)

And, because Bob’s’ name is… well, “Bob,” Mary poured us a taste of “Bob’s Red” which is 51% syrah. At $15 a bottle it was the buy of the day and naturally, Bob being a “Bob,” bought a few bottles (so did we).

The rain had stopped, so when we left the tasting room, we spent time reflecting by the reflecting pool,
and noticing the beautiful flowers, fountains

and the wine caves where you can book a tour. I love touring wine caves, so I’m definitely making a return trip to Kunde.

Our next stop was St. Francis Winery & Vineyards named after St. Francis of Assisi in homage to his ‘role’ as the heavenly protector of the natural world and a nod to the Franciscan order believed to have been the first to bring European grape growing to the new world. 

As we drove up a rainbow appeared in the sky.  A welcome from St. Francis?

At the entrance of the Wild Oak Vineyard, the winery’s tasting room and visitors center was designed to look like a Spanish mission.

The gardens were ‘dotted’ w/ abundant lavender plants giving the air a wonderful scent reminding me of my childhood and my mother’s Yardley Lavender soap.

The room was crowded w/ ‘tasters’ – but the three of us found a spot at the far end of the bar. The winery is called the “house of big reds” and the list of reds from winemaker Tom Mackey is impressive.

We gave Jonathan and Mary, our two terrific ‘barristas,’ our tasting coupons and started sipping. Tasting fees are normally $10 - $15, depending on the flight.

The 2008 Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($15) from the Classic Series flight – ‘aged’ in stainless and oak, was a nice wine for the money. I also liked the 2006 Claret, Sonoma County, a Bordeaux blend ($22), the 2007 Old Vine Zin, Sonoma County ($22) and the 2006 Merlot, Sonoma County ($22).

From their Artisan Series flight sold only at the winery and online, I really enjoyed the 2005 Red Wine, Cote Du Sonoma, Sonoma County ($35) – a Rhone blend, and the 2004 Meritage, Anthem, Sonoma Valley ($60) – the winery’s Bordeaux blend.

So on a delicious high note, we ended our sixth day on the long and wine-ing road.

On the seventh day we rested “our tasting buds” and left beautiful Sonoma County. I really could live there!


Stu said...

Kunde sounds marvelous. And I’m pleased that Franciscan pleased you. It’s not known for very good wines. I guess they changed their recipes. – Style note: I love the way you write---it’s like you talk. For example…

"And, because Bob’s’ name is… well, “Bob,” Mary poured us a taste of “Bob’s Red” which is 51% syrah. At $15 a bottle it was the buy of the day and naturally, Bob being a “Bob,” bought a few bottles (so did we)."

It’s not easy to write like people speak. You—and Robert Parker—have nailed it. -- Stu

ilona saari said...

Wow - what a nice thing to say. Thank you!

ilona saari said...

PS - tho I enjoyed the commercial wines at St. Francis, it was some of the wines from their Artisan Series sold only at the winery and online that I really thought were very good.

marcia said...

Thanks for much for your comments and photos of the winery. I'm so pleased to hear you had a great visit and enjoyed the wines!

Best Regards,
Marcia Kunde Mickelson
4th Generation Winegrower
Kunde Family Estate

marcia said...

Thank you so much for your posting on the winery. Your pictures were great and I'm so pleased you enjoyed your visit and our estate bottled wines. I do hope that you'll come back for another visit. Next time, you'll have to try our newest adventure - Mountain Top tasting!
Beest Regards,
Marcia Kunde Mickelson
4th Generation Winegrower
Kunde Family Estate

ilona saari said...

Glad you liked the piece on Kunde, Marcia. Loved the wines.

ilona saari said...

PS - Marcia, please send my best to Mary and feel free to use my review of your winery as you see fit...

bobsaari said...

Yes, Kunde is a place to visit and taste. I want to do their cave thing, mountain top tasting and their food pairings. Comfortable place to be hang out. I also liked Franciscan as a place to hang if it were not so crowded. One of their Chardonnays was very OK, especially when I saw it in the stores for a very good price. I liked the mission look, admittedly a tad commercial. But, the views of the hills were really a mellowing factor. Overall a good day......