Wine & Food

Snooth User: outthere

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Posted by outthere, Aug 26, 2014.

It's upon us, Labor Day weekend. 

This year we are doing a Friday Night event at Francis Ford Coppola in Geyserville in addition to the Taste of Sonoma on Saturday at MacMurray Ranch. Anyone going except me? NG?


Reply by EMark, Aug 26, 2014.

Sounds like fun, OT. You might not be surprised to hear that I won't be there.  However, I will look forward to any reports and pictures.

Reply by Really Big Al, Aug 27, 2014.

I'm busy hosting a LAN party this weekend at Big Al Computers.  Enjoy the wine.

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 28, 2014.

Disneyland with the fam Saturday...hoping to help my neighbor drink some more of those old wines, too.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 28, 2014.

Sounds like fun.  I hope that you survived the earthquake.  I'm going to the Andrew Will annual release party over on Vashon Island.

Reply by outthere, Aug 30, 2014.
Went to the Sonoma Starlight event this evening at Coppola. Fun event. Lots of good food, good wines, pretty venue especially as the sun set. Got to meet Jake Bilbro and taste his Limerick Lane Grenache/Syrah blend, damn good. Good times.
The '12 Trentadue Estate Cab was quite tasty as well. 
Tomorrow at MacMurray will be a cattle call.
Reply by dmcker, Aug 30, 2014.

Does look like a lovely sunset.

Does Coppola make any decent wine these days?

Reply by outthere, Aug 30, 2014.

Nothing that makes me sit up and take notice. Then again my sampling has not been that large and winwries rarely if ever pour their better wines at public tastings. Generally I walk past their tables at tastings.

Reply by napagirl68, Aug 31, 2014.

Generally I walk past their tables at tastings.


Hey, OT, was thinking of you this weekend. Have been offline for awhile due to family emergency stuff.  

Hope to read about your day today.  Really wish I was there...

Reply by outthere, Aug 31, 2014.

I was right, Taste of Sonoma was a cattle call. The gates opened at 11:00, we rolled in at 11:30 and the line was longer than I have ever seen. This was half way in...


Not sure what was worse, waiting in line or being treated to a woman behind me going on and on about wine, grapes, commercial harvesters etc when she had no clue what she was talking about. In the back of my mind it kept repeating "If you think the sound of my voice is annoying now just wait until I have 20-30 pours of wine in me." Alas, such are public tastings. Buck up and deal with it. 

The line actually moved quite well and we were in within 10 minutes of arrival. Mother Nature agreed with us yesterday. Weather has been cool, overcast, drizzly mornings, afternoon burnoff, temps in the 60-70 range. Friday evening became muggy, but when the sun came up Saturday it was clear. By showtime the mercury had already hit the mid-80s. But it didn't let up and it got too warm. 

The grounds at MacMurray Ranch are gorgeous. They arrange the event in tents by AVA. From left to right: 

Alexander Valley


Alexander on left Dry Creek right rear.


Dry Creek on left, Reserve Tasting Tent on right


Sonoma Valley background left, RRV on right.


More food booths...


The tents have the winery tables interspersed with food being prepared by chefs form local restaurants. Spicy Tuna Hand Roll, Smoked Pork Belly with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, Smoked Whitefish Ceviche, Smoked Hawaiian Kahlua Pork Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Ancho Mayonaise,  Pork Saltimbocca with Proscuitto, Mozzarella, Sage in Wild Mushroom Sauce, Beef Carpaccio, Parmesan, Truffle Aioli on Brioche Crostini, Chilled Corn Soup with Blistered Padrones, Scallop Tartare with Avocado Puree, Stout Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Parsnips with pickled Shallots, Strawberry Gazpacho with Basil Crème Fraiche... and on and on and on. Well, you get the idea.

Pair that with 200 wineries pouring over 1,000 different wines, 5 local breweries, a distillery or two, desserts, Steel chef Cooking Competition, a crush pad demonstration, pairing demonstrations etc and you have the drunk fest we call Taste of Sonoma.

Without getting too involved I'll just report on my favorite stop of the day. That was the Limerick Lane table. The Bilbro Brothers have done nice work with Limerick Lane, Marietta and Idlewild and are getting a lot of positive press. Problem is that it makes the wines a bit tough to acquire. Jake gave up the VIP treatment and poured us through his lineup while giving us one-on-one attention talking about the struggles of the '11 vintage and how they dealt with everything that came up during harvest.

His Rosé of Grenache was wonderful. Light, bright and flavorful. Sorry about picture quality, I was there more to focus on tasting than on labels.


Jake was pouring the Syrah Grenache blend on Friday night at Coppola and it was my WOTN. Savory nose, dark, structured and layered.


The RRV Zin was easy drinking, medium bodied with nice lift.


The Rocky Knoll is just that, grown on almost solid rock. Interplanted with Mourvèdre and cofermented. The nose  was right up my alley. The Mourvèdre gave it a gaminess that you don't find in Zinfandel. Really liked this. 


Next he pulled his 1910 Old Vine Zin out from under the table. No pic. This wine is like curling up in front of a fire with a blanket and a good book.  Just WOW! Next was his '11 Hail Mary Syrah. Everything in '11 ripened at the same time and was in fermentation tanks except for the Syrah. Rain was coming and they had to pick. Then the crusher broke down. No fermentation tanks and no crusher. The fruit went into two open top tanks, whole cluster, covered with tarps, dry ice added and left for two weeks to naturally ferment. They aptly names it Hail Mary as they had no clue what would result. Results? RP 95, AG 92, OT the Syrah Slut gives it two big thumbs up. Just a killer Syrah. I'm going to have to take a long hard look at my purchasing because Limerick Lane is going to get a good chunk of my wine dollar moving forward. Really impressive lineup. Their price point is a bit higher than my comfort zone but it is due to their having to go 3-tier. When they are able to sell through direct to consumer they will be able to lower their retail prices. Pouring at events like this will help them in that quest.

Did I mention it was hot? The RRV tent was like a freaking sauna. We had to bail after LL and get some fresh air. Fresh air and Whole Hog BBQ? Why not...
We tasted through a lot of wines. Some of the other standouts were Taft Street, Thralls, Enkidu, Dunstan, Reuling, Joseph Swan and Thomas George. Pourers were fighting the heat trying to keep the wines at optimum temp by going back and forth to ice baths but it was tough going. We retreated to the Marketplace to taste some beer fro RRB, Bear republic, Lagunitas and others.
Add in some Lemoncello, Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream and other savory bites and you could put a fork in us. We bailed and got home by 2:30. All in all it was a fun time with just a few hundred too many people.
Reply by napagirl68, Aug 31, 2014.

Awesome, OT!   I have to agree that I have really liked some of Taft Street's stuff in the past, and am currently loving a Joseph Swan PN.    LOL- I also call Taste of Sonoma the Drunk Fest.  It's easy to over imbibe, and it always seems to get freakin' hot on that Saturday!

I agree about the crowds, and it seems to get worse every year.   They should think about lowering the number of tickets sold.  Every year it seems to be sold out, and each year there are more people.  They obviously are upping the number of tickets each year.

Reply by EMark, Aug 31, 2014.

Excellent, OT.  Thanks for the report.

My sunset shot from last night:

Reply by outthere, Aug 31, 2014.


Reply by dmcker, Aug 31, 2014.

Any Santa Ana effects contributing, Mark?

Great report, OT, thanks. Shirt of the day award goes to ponytail dude (not that there was much competition)...

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