With over 250 wineries and 13 appellations in Sonoma County, planning a wine tasting tour can be overwhelming.  Sonoma is diverse with varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.

Alexander Valley Wine Tasting

Alexander Valley Wineries, Healdsburg

With so many varietals and appellations here are a few suggestions for planning a Sonoma tasting tour.  Choose an appellation, select a favorite varietal or two and focus on those wineries.  You can also hire a professional guide as well.  For our short trip, we were interested in tasting some as many different options as we could.  Here's a glimpse of some of Sonoma County's wineries.

An interesting fact of this area is that it was once covered by sea, but the coastal hills resulted from tectonic shifts, pushing the sea out and creating thousands of acres of rich soils for grape growing.

Alexander Valley Vineyards

We had to visit the winery that was voted Sonoma's Best Winery from the 2011 San Francsico Baylist competition and they did not disappoint.  Be sure to make time for them on the weekend and take a cave tour.

Tasting List Includes:

2010 Gewurz

2009 Estate Chardonnay

2009 Reserve Chardonnay

2006 Estate Viognier

2009 Temptation Zin

2008 Sin Zin

2006 Alexander School Reserve Zinfandel

2007 Redemption Zin

2008 Estate Cabernet Franc

2005 Cyrus

From the whites we really enjoyed the Gewurz and the Estate Chardonnay.  The Gewurz is actually a Mendocino County wine.  It was a pleasant surprise to get a taste from this region where we've heard so many great reviews.  If you like flavors of pear, apple and grapefruit this light taste is ideal for poolside.  Their Estate Chardonnay is well balanced with creaminess and toasted oak and displays flavors of pear, apple and citrus, as well.  The Viognier has a highly aromatic nose, displaying a hefty fruit finish.

Adam joined me on this tasting trip and we really enjoyed the Redemption Zin.  He noticed the viscosity and elegance of Dry Creek Valley Zin instantly.  I was surprised at the spice finish of this Zin.  Apparently this is common of Dry Alexander Valley VineyardsCreek Zins.   This well-priced wine can easily fill up your wine carrier.  If you fancy notes of smokiness in your wines, then try their 2008 Estate Cabernet Franc.  This medium bodied wine is accompanied by black currant, black cherry, chocolate and plum --  another well priced and award winning wine.  A bottle of their flagship wine the 2005 Cyrus was open, so we were fortunate to try it.  Each year it's made with different percentages of a blend.  It has lots of layers created by aging for 2 years in French oak and 8 months in the bottle.

Thanks Scott for an extensive tour of Alexander Valley Vineyards delicious wines!

Seghesio Vineyards

Seghesio Vineyards Wine Tour, Sonoma

The Seghesio family started planting grapes as far back as 1895.  This is the first winery I've visited that used to be in the bulk wine industry.  This means they would crush grapes in bulk production for other wine makers before the bottling process.  It wasn't until 1983 that they decided to bottle their first bottle under their family label.

Tony our host for wine tasting and the barrel tour, was a wealth of knowledge on the family's history, the cave and their diverse wines.  Their one-of-a-kind barrel room has several redwood storage tanks.  We also learned that the large tanks were cut in half in order to fit in the barrel room.  So, the photo here shows them at half their original size.  Reclaimed lumber from the redwood tanks was used in the construction of the ceiling and doors in the barrel room.  Tony explained how redwood is a neutral wood that was used to store the crush grapes before they are pumped to tanks on trains for market.

Seghesio Family Vineyards encompasses 300 acres of grapevines covering parts of Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys.

Tasting List Includes:Redwood Wine Storage Tanks

2010 Pinot Grigio

2010 Arneis

2009 Costiera Pinot Noir

2009 Old Vine Carignane

2008 Cortina Zinfandel

2009 Rockpile Zinfandel

2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel

2007 Home Ranch Petite Sirah

2008 Omaggio

2005 Dionigia

Of these, we particularly enjoyed the Costiera Pinot Noir (which is only sold in their tasting room).  This wine exhibits rich flavors of dark cherry and vanilla.  It was a treat to try their Arneis wine which is made from a Northern Italian grape.  Arneis translates to "little rascal," due to the viticultural challenges it presents in the vineyard.    They currently have 8 acres of this grape which produces a pleasant wine with flavors of pear & melon.

Diognigia "Wine Goddess"The Rockpile Zinfandel was fantastic as well with its aromas of spice and flavors of red fruit.  It was interesting to learn that the grapes for this wine are grown 1,200' above Dry Creek Valley in a very rocky area that is hot and dry due to its elevation.  The 2007 Home Ranch Petite Sirah is another rich wine that has a chewy mouth feel.  The Omaggio was great as well!

I love the name and taste of their dessert wine.  And the Vintage 2005 Dionigia translates to, "Wine Goddess" in Italian.   This Petite Syrah, Cabernet and Zinfandel blended dessert wine is also worth mentioning.

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