Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Part Five
Rodney Strong & Kokomo Wines
w/ a bit of Olive Oil

After our amazing wine/food pairing at Kendall-Jackson the day we arrived, Bob, Nguyen, Richard and I (w/ friend Paul) went to the beautiful Rodney Strong Vineyards winery.

As Ray, our friendly barista (and keeper of the bottle) told us...

... Founder Rodney, and his wife, Charlotte, were Broadway dancers during their 1950’s first incarnation.  As an ex-dancer myself, I thought that was cool.  Since 1989, however, Tom Klein has been this “carbon neutral, all sustainable” winery’s owner.  All 1,000 acres are Sonoma County vineyards which take great care of the ecosystem in ways that preserve and replenish resources, a la drip irrigation, covered crops, composting, etc.

Unfortunately, a good number of the wines were disappointing after that Kendall-Jackson experience.  However, I did like the 2007 cabernet sauvignon reserve ($45) and the 2007 Symmetry, red Meritage (California’s version of Bordeaux) ($55) which received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast.  Also good was the 2007 Brothers Ridge cab ($75) made w/ grapes grown at high elevation which received 93 pts. from Wine Spectator.  High marks from highly regarded arbiters – proving, once again, that taste (and tasting) is subjective.

On our last day, we four wine musketeers found ourselves once again driving on Dry Creek Road (Healdsburg’s ‘winery row’) where we discovered the Kokomo Winery, founded in 2004 by Eric Miller of Kokomo, Indiana…. not the Beach Boys' Kokomo off the Florida Keys - but, of course, that didn’t keep the song at bay… If I could have blasted out a fanfare, I would have, because we were soon to learn that we had hit the grape mother lode, but the Beach Boys musical vibrations were still ringing in my head.

Inside, the fun and funky tasting room....

...delightful Becky was our barista.  She started us with the 2008 Sonoma Coast pinot noir, reserve, Gopher Hill ($38).  The wine sang us a Kokomo tune of rose petals and red apple-skin.  The wine got 92 pts.in the Pinot Report… Lovely to look at… delightful to hold (sing it!).

Sipping the 2007 Dry Creek Valley zin, Timber Crest Vineyard ($32) w/ its jammy raspberry flavor and hints of cherry, pepper and vanilla again made me want to break out in song, but I didn’t want to scare the little dog that guarded the door!

Next up was the 2007 Dry Creek Valley merlot, Pauline’s Vineyard ($28) – great aroma.  I love merlot and this was so good it could sing its own praises.

The 2008 Dry Creek Valley petite syrah ($27) was not petite at all, but filled w/ big, syrupy wild berry flavors, w/ smooth, ripe tannins.  An aria of a wine.

All in all… very nice wines for a mere $5.00 tasting fee that’ll put your taste buds in Kokomotion…

As we were leaving, we noticed a little shop next door called Dry Creek Olive Co. 

We all love olives so we thought we’d check it out.  Dry Creek Olive Co. we soon discovered makes olive oil.  Entering the fresh and pretty ‘shop,’ we were engulfed in wonderful aromatic scents from the company’s on-site mill and tasting room.   

Yup.  The ‘shop’ had a tasting room.  So, why not?  Can’t have wine all the time, right? 

After a peek at the mill...


... we settled in for a little 'extra virgin' tasting.

Chris, our Dry Creek Olive Co. host, told us that all their olive oil is made from their own trees.  

We dipped pieces of bread into vanilla olive oil… then soaked up the Meyer lemon, the tangerine (my favorite) and the lime flavored EVOOs as well as the Tuscan blends tempered w/ Spanish Arbequina.  All delicious w/ that fresh, clean taste that good olive oils have.  But I “revisited” the tangerine oil so many times, Chris was running out of bread.  Told you it was my favorite!

Oh, did I mentioned the vinegar?  More bread dipping into Barrel-Aged California Balsamic.  Oh, my – it was like tasting port… And then there was the Pomegranate – white wine vinegar made w/ California pomegranates bursting w/ sweet, fruity, delicious flavor.

Though there was no Dry Creek Olive Oil Co. song to play in our heads, we left singing its praises.  But that delicious olive oil and vinegar soaked bread awakened all our hunger pangs.

It was time for a picnic.

Rodney Strong Vineyards
11453 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg CA 95448

Kokomo Winery
4791 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg CA 95448

Dry Creek Olive Co.
4791 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg CA 95448

No comments: