It’s Always Sunny in Sonoma
by L.M. Archer, FWS
Pinch me. I’m finally here. Sonoma. It’s sunny. Unlike home – soggy Seattle. We’ve flown from Seattle to San Francisco, then driven the hour north to Healdsburg. Walking down the streets of Healdsburg, four different people greet me warmly in the first hour – and they aren’t selling anything, either. Maybe I didn’t get the memo…Maybe the ‘random acts of kindness’ movement started here…Maybe… it’s just always sunny in Sonoma?
Our hostess with the mostest, Lucy Lewand of Healdsburg’s historic Camellia Inn, smiles when I tell her about the random acts of kindness. Lucy is a second generation Sonoma resident, community cornerstone, sage advice dispenser, and successful business owner. The type of person who knows where all the bodies are buried (under the Inn’s 80 varieties of camellia bushes, no doubt.) Yet she maintains a cordial and unflappable presence amidst an Inn bursting with new guests and regulars alike – all in town for the Easter weekend to enjoy wine tastings, culinary feasts, and recreational activities.
Guests at Camellia Inn enjoy complimentary afternoon wine and cheese tastings, elaborate buffet breakfast (including diabolically delish fresh fruit smoothy shots), a pool, and WIFI. If we didn’t have such a full schedule, we might simply stay at the Inn and get lost in its Victorian opulence.
However, my partner in crime, loyal mascot and I have three days to focus on what makes Sonoma so unique.We’ve devised a plan: sample downtown tasting rooms our first day, venture forth to Dry Creek, Russian and Alexander Valleys on day two, and meander south to Napa en route to San Francisco our final day.
Heart of Downtown Sonoma – Portalupi Wines
First stop: Portalupi Wines on North Street, one block from the Camellia Inn.
Portalupi Tasting Room: 107 North Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448 | portalupiwine.com
Portalupi Wines pivots on point from the moment you walk in the sleek, European-vibe tasting room. Artisanal in all aspects, from the small case production wines to the hand-crafted charcuterie, balsamics, oils, and smoked salmon offerings, Portalupi does its family name and Italian heritage proud. The brainchild of husband and wife former premium wine folks Jane Portalupi and Tim Borges, the Portalupi Wine name honors Jane’s grandparents, who owned a local grocery in the early 1900’s, and sold wine in milk bottles. Portalupi Wines continues this tradition with their Vaso de Marina red blend, named for grandmother Marina, who advised “wine is meant to be enjoyed every day.”
On tap for tasting:
2008 Pinot Noir, Paso Robles – Gold Medal winner, 91 score Wine Spectator. binNotes personal fave.
2008 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley – A spicy show-off.
2009 Old Vine Zinfandel, Russian River Valley – 90 points Wine Spectator. Worth the hype.
2009 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley – Gnarly but nice.
2009 Barbera, Mendocino County – Roast foods friendly red.
2011 Bianco, Chardonnay/ Sauvignon Blanc/ Muscat Canelli – One breezy blend.
Vaso de Marina – Signature Milk bottle red blend table wine meant for sharing.
Kevin, the tasting associate, knocked it out of the park assisting us – molto grazie!
Davis Family Vineyards: 52 Front Street, Healdsburg CA 95448 |www.davisfamilyvineyards.com
Skating in seconds before closing time, associate Adrienne Donnelly gracefully accommodates us with a tasting of:
2010 Cuvée Luke – Sierra Foothills. Worth a hike on your taste buds.
2010 Chardonnay – Estate Soul Patch. Soulful, soft summer sipper.
2010 Horse Shoe Blend – Occidental Ridge Russian River Valley. Cowboy up!
2010 Pinot Noir – Soul Patch. Ruby bauble breathtaking in subtlety; binNotes’ fave.
2010 Pinot Noir – Starr Ridge. Starry, starry noir twinkles on the palate.
2010 Old Vine Zinfandel – (117 year old vines) Pepper, dill, bright. Non-Zin drinkers will convert with this one.
2010 Marco Mistral Blend – Syrah, Grenache, Zinfandel. Named in honor of a Davis Family Friend known as the “Life of the Party.” Chewy summer BBQ blend.
2010 Syrah/3% Viogner – Estate Grown. Refined Rhone homage.
After a tasting like this, notes turn illegible, but the overall impression remains: Davis Family Vineyards does not disappoint. So worth the hike. Cheers!
Stay tuned for Part 3.
Part 1 of 3 here.
Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Thank you to Lucy Lewand.
Camellia Inn – 211 North Street, Healdsburg CA 985448 | http://www.camelliainn.com
Thank you to Kevin at Portalupi Wines.
Thank you to Adrienne Donnelly.