Our second tour to California kicked off on Sunday with another great meal at OSO restaurant in Sonoma. Delicious tapas style dishes, some cracking Pinot Gris and Grenache, warm atmosphere and great service.
The weather forecast is extremely positive despite the pouring rain that greeted us on arriving at our hotel, with temperatures getting up to 28 degrees we could be in for a classic autumnal October in the winelands.
And so we packed a lot in on our first full day in California, with three contrasting but excellent visits.
Our first stop was the historic Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley, which came to fame in the 1976 Judgement of Paris where their 1973 Chardonnay vintage beat an array of top class white Burgundies – much to the dismay of the French.
We had a fabulous presentation and tasting in the private lounge of the Chateau with balcony looking up to Mount Helena. Tasting through Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and finishing off with the 2009 Estate Cabernet @ $165.00 per bottle it was cracking start to the tour.
From Napa, we headed south to as different an estate as you could imagine.
Dave Homewood founded Homewood Winery about 30 years ago, having moved from Illinois after college. Totally passionate about Cabernet, Dave also has his whims – we tasted a 100% Roussanne which was terrific – and is very happy to experiment with different varietals. His Flying Whizbanger (I kid you not) was a blend of Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Syrah. The Italian varietal Dolcetto was also on the agenda along with some Sangiovese and very approachable Cabernet Sauvignon. He sells everything (about 3000 cases) from the cellar door.
After staying at Homewood for a tasty picnic lunch, we headed north of Sonoma to Loxton Cellars. Here, owner Chris Loxton gave us some fascinating insights into winemaking as we peered into a big vat of fermenting Cabernet Sauvignon. The third visit of the day can always be a challenge but we were perked up by Chris’s fabulous wines and hilariously dry, Australian wit and humour.
Fabulous day – even though I say myself!