LESLIE ROSA IS A SOMMELIER AND THE FOUNDER OF LA DOLCE VIGNA, A WINE + CULTURE TOUR COMPANY THAT OFFERS INTIMATE AND AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES IN ITALY AND CALIFORNIA.
Originally published July 2015.
The new rosés have been released. Summer has just begun. Pack your weekend bag and let’s have fun!
Oh, the many shades of rosé! Thanks to the variety of grapes and winemaking practices used to make this summer water, the following two-day wine tour itinerary featuring fabulous rosé producers in Sonoma and Napa offers you a myriad of pink hues to taste and savor. You’ll be a rosé professional (ro-pro) by the end of it.
DAY 1 | SONOMA + NAPA
10:00 a.m. | Winery Visit: Red Car Wine | Rosé of Pinot Noir
Our first stop is just north of Sebastopol in West Sonoma. Check out Red Car’s retro tasting room, complete with shag carpet and vinyl records, and try their award-winning Rosé of Pinot Noir, a true vin gris (no contact with the skins) with a moderate alcohol level of 12.7%. An enchanting pale-salmon shade, Red Car’s rosé is dry, crisp, and offers notes of wild strawberries and citrus—no surprise that is sells out quickly each year.
11:30 a.m. | Winery Visit: Muscardini Cellars | Rosato di Sangiovese
Making your way down toward the town of Sonoma, drop in to the tasting room of Muscardini Cellars, which is housed in an adorable red schoolhouse in Kenwood. The Italian-American wine maker Michael Muscardini makes a Rosato of his ancestral Tuscan grape, Sangiovese. The result is a richly- colored rosé that offers an explosive palette of ripe raspberries, cranberries and nectarines, balanced with a bright acidity.
12:30 p.m. | Lunch: The Girl And The Fig
“Country food with a French passion” is how The Girl and the Fig’s owner describes her acclaimed restaurant in the heart of Downtown Sonoma. The ingredients for their inventive dishes are locally-sourced—often farmed by the restaurant’s own staff. Highly recommended is their three-course seasonal menu that changes weekly. No doubt their proprietary Rhone-blend Rosé (90% Grenache 5% Cinsault and 5% Counoise), which comes in a cheeky shade of blush pink and bursts forth with refreshing watermelon and floral notes, will be a perfect pairing.
2:30 p.m. | Winery Visit: Gundlach Bundschu | Tempranillo Rosé
Tempranillo, the grape used to make Rioja in its native Spain, is like a fighting bull: big, bold and strapping. Gundlach Bundschu’s Tempranillo Rosé certainly checks all the boxes. Its fierce hot pink hue and tantalizing palate of strawberries, orange pekoe tea and a touch of fresh tobacco—not to mention its 14.2% alcohol content—will have you calling out, “Ole!”
4:00 p.m. | Winery Visit: Scribe | Rosé of Pinot Noir
One of the more idyllic and intimate tasting experiences in Sonoma, Scribe never ceases to amaze with its #winning hospitality and bohemian digs. Definitely call ahead to book a one-on-one tasting (the only kind they offer) at one of the picnic-tables-with-a-view, and get ready to be spoiled. You’ll enjoy a light spread of farm-fresh nibbles while a hip, knowledgeable guide tells you all about their stellar Rosé of Pinot Noir, a blushing rosé that whispers to your palette of blood orange and ruby red grapefruit while entrancing you with its pale coral color.
6:00 p.m. | Hotel Check-In: Senza Hotel
If you aren’t too roséd out, enjoy the complimentary wine and cheese reception highlighting a different local winery every evening in the lobby of Senza Hotel just north of Downtown Napa. Otherwise, check in to your plush room and soak in the hot tub or pool before getting ready for one last outing. Hey, no one ever said a weekend of wine tasting was easy!
8:30 p.m. | Dinner: Zuzu Tapas and Paella
Sneak in a Spanish rosado with your tapas at this happening spot in Downtown Napa. The daily wood-fired paella special is a must, but so is just about anything on this flavorful and exciting menu. Save room for the Pastel de Tres Leches with Carmelized Bananas or be very, very upset with yourself.
DAY 2 | NAPA + HEALDSBURG
10:00 a.m. | Winery Visit: Quixote Winery | Quixote Rosé
Book ahead for your tour and tasting at this whimsical winery, designed by the free-spirited Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Set in the stunning hillside of the Stags Leap District, you will most likely walk around Quixote Winery with a dropped jaw for the entire tour, which encompasses the winery, gardens and the estate’s reservoir. Try to snap out of it when it comes time to taste winemaker Aaron Pott’s dreamy Quixote Rosé. Made from 100% Petit Sirah, this dry, bright pink rosé offers a bodacious palette of wild strawberries and a slight creamy finish thanks to the four months it spends in neutral oak.
11:30 a.m. | Winery Visit: Robert Sinskey Vineyards | Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
The Talented Mr. Sinskey does it again! This discreet, yet vibrant, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir is made from organically-grown, cool-climate Carneros fruit that is gently pressed in whole clusters. The peachy color is a perfect preface to its tasting notes: peach skin and farm-stand strawberries. Its freshness makes it a perfect pair to the complimentary small bites lovingly crafted by Chef Maria Helm Sinskey which accompany each tasting at Robert Sinskey Vineyards.
12:30 p.m. | Lunch: Gott’s Roadside
This 1950s-style outdoor diner hits the spot after a morning of wining. Try the Ahi Tuna Burger and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries, or one of the other mouth-watering sandwich options at Gott’s Roadside. (Vegetarian options are available too.) Place your order and snag an umbrella-shaded, white picnic table in the back.
2:30 p.m. | Winery Visit: Storybook Mountain Vineyards | Zin Gris
We’ve come a long way since the days of cheap jug-style White Zinfandel. It’s a Rosé Renaissance and Storybook Mountain Vineyards, which specializes in exceptional Zinfandels and Cabernet Sauvignons, is writing the next chapter with its dry, barrel-fermented Zin Gris. Its pale ruby hue entrances the eye while its sun-ripe raspberry palette tickles the tongue. Grab a glass and stroll along the gorgeous estate vineyards that could serve as the setting for a fairytale. Call ahead for a reservation.
4:00 p.m. | Winery Visit: Medlock Ames | Rosé
Time seems to slow down at Medlock Ames’ Alexander Valley Tasting Room, where the sun trickles through the trellis-covered patio and the integrated summer garden infuses the air with its bounty. This organically-farmed and sustainable winery has created a robust rosé of mostly Merlot (90% Merlot, 10% Malbec). Its wild-salmon shade sparkles cheerfully while its palette ponders pomegranate, cranberry, strawberry and just a pinch of spice.
5:00 p.m. | Aperitif
After your tasting at Medlock Ames, walk a few short paces to the winery’s Alexander Valley Bar for an artisanal cocktail made with fresh herbs from the garden. On Sundays during the summer, there is live music from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Alternatively, make your way to Downtown Healdsburg and grab a glass of rosé from anywhere but California at Bergamot Alley while listening to the owner’s vinyl record collection. On Tuesdays, Bergamot Alley hosts live concerts.
8:00 p.m. | Dinner: Scopa
At this intimate Italian restaurant right on the square in Downtown Healdsburg, order whatever you want—really, it’s all so amazing, but an absolute must is Nonna’s Tomato-Braised Chicken with Sauteed Greens and Soft Polenta. Not only because it would pair perfectly with the Rosé of “Nebbiolo, Barbera, Etc.” from Idelwild, which you can find on Scopa’s carefully curated wine menu, but because it is a true labor of love. Best to make a reservation because this tiny place fills up fast. Note: On Wednesdays, the restaurant plays host to a local winemaker who pairs their creations with the restaurant’s delicious dishes.
If you opt to stay another night, check into The Grape Leaf Inn in Healdsburg or The Pink Mansion in Calistoga and spend a relaxing day at one of the hot springs in Calistoga: Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs are two tried and true thermal pool institutions.
SUMMER EVENTS TO PAIR WITH YOUR ROSY TOUR OF NAPA AND SONOMA:
Broadway Under the Stars (June 19 – September 13)
Music in the Vineyards (July 21 – August 23, 2015)
ADDRESSES + INFORMATION
8400 Graton Road, Sebastapol
Hours: Daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
9380 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood
Hours: Daily 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Girl and the Fig
110 West Spain Street, Sonoma
Hours: All-day menu - daily 11:30 – 10 | Late night brasserie menu - until 11 pm Fri – Sat | Sunday Brunch 10 – 3
2000 Denmark St, Sonoma
Hours: Daily 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
2300 Napa Road, Sonoma
Hours: By reservation only
Zuzu Tapas and Paella
829 Main Street, Napa
Hours: Lunch: Mon – Fri 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. | Dinner: Sun – Thu 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Fri – Sat 4:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
4066 Howard Lane, Napa
6126 Silverado Trail, Napa
Hours: By reservation only
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
6320 Silverado Trail, Napa
Hours: Daily 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
933 Main Street, St. Helena
Hours: Daily 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Storybook Mountain Vineyards
3835 CA-128, Calistoga
Hours: By reservation only
Medlock Ames Tasting Room and Alexander Valley Bar
3487 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg
Hours: Tasting Room: Daily 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Bar: Daily from 5:00 p.m.
328 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg
Hours: Tue – Sat | 5:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Sun | 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
109A Plaza Street, Healdsburg
Hours: Daily 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.