THE LONG & WINE-ING ROAD
Day Five Wineries
How many times do you get a chance to sip a sparkling wine that helped end the Cold War? That treat was waiting for us as we left the Howard Station Café and headed straight for Iron Horse on Ross Station Road in Sebastopol. The winery, founded in 1979 by Audrey & Barry Sterling, is now run by CEO Joy Sterling, a college friend of a friend who knew we were coming.
We drove the long and now winding country road and crossed the wooden bridge that led to the winery perched on a hill. No walk-ins here! The views from the rugged outdoor tasting room were breathtaking.
(love this tasting "room")
Joy welcomed us and took a break from a media interview she was doing to spend some time w/ us.
Both Iron Horse’s flight tastings are $10… one is a “still” flight which consists of some lovely chardonnays and pinot noirs, but what really puts this winery on the ‘wine map’ for me is the “sparkling” flight of 5 ‘tickle your nose’ tastes. All were delish… not too sweet – not too dry. My favorite was the 2005 Brut Rose ($50) and the 2005 Russian Cuvee ($33), the sparkling wine Reagan served Gorbachev at their Summit Meeting in Geneva in 1985 which led to the end of the Cold War (the meeting or the wine – who can tell?) This wine has become a White House staple ever since.
Reluctantly, we said good bye to Joy and the winery views and headed down the hill. Next stop: the Merry Edwards tasting room (named for the owner and winemaker), also in Sebastopol. We walked through a lovely garden filled w/ irises
to an office building/tasting room next to one of Ms. Edwards’ vineyards.
This award-winning winery, opened in 2007,
makes only pinot noir and to say they were absolutely delicious would be an understatement. The tasting is free and poured in the office “conference room.” The 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($42) and the 2007 Tobias Glen Pinot Noir ($54) tantalized our taste buds, but the 2007 Meredith Estate Pinot Noir ($54) and the 2007 Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir ($57) sent our buds into orbit. Wine doesn’t come much better than this. I wanted to taste there forever. Sadly, this wine is not sold in your local super market or wine shop… but you can find it online!
Next stop – Woodenhead (one of the owner’s nicknames in his high school days). How can you not love a winery named ‘Woodenhead?’
This tasting room has yet another stunning view
and a rustic ambience, almost a tree house feel, but the wines were far from ‘rustic’. There were two $5 flights and one for $10. The three of us shared the “Zintensity” $5 flight and were very happy to find some of the best zins that we had tasted to date. The ’07 Braccialini Vineyard, Alexander Valley zin ($34) – terrific! The ’06 Guido Venturi Vineyard, Mendocino County zin ($30) – 4 stars from Richard and my two favorites: the ’06 Valenti Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge zin ($30) and the ’06 Martinelli Road Vineyard Old Vine (127 years), Russian River zin ($45) – truly spectacular!
We moved on to the “Pinot Love” $10 tasting, and again, the wines were ‘fine’ – my favorites in this group: the ‘07 Humboldt County pinot ($42) and the ’06 Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley pinot ($60)… Then there’s a pigs and pinot ‘theme’ for this varietal where the ’07 Buena Tierra Vineyard pinot won a website pig ‘tasting’ contest. I was afraid to ask, but the wine was terrific.
While we sipped, we chatted w/ a fellow taster who is involved in growing medicinal roots from the “lost crops of the Incas” that are also ‘fun’ to eat… He even gave my brother a couple of ‘roots’ to grow – “Yacon” a Bolivian sun root and, “Mashua” a tuberous nasturtium (no I really don’t have that good a memory for lost Inca roots – I take a lot of notes).
Bob’s going to give the roots a try to see if they take root (pun intended).
As the 5:00 closing time neared, Zina, one of the winery partners joined us. Outgoing and fun, she allowed us to ‘revisit’ our favorite ‘tastes.’ Since that was nearly every wine, we did a lot of revisiting. Thank you Zina!
The witching hour finally arrived and the tasting room was locking up for the night. It was time for supper, so we decided to take the recommendation from our Woodenhead friendly pourer and check out Aioli… a place the owners call a gourmet delicatessen. What a misnomer! Aioli is a major gourmet-food food find! Stay tuned.