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Sonoma County’s Secret—Imagery Estate Winery

By Alexa Chipman Apr. 9, 2017

Imagery Estate Winery Tasting Room

If you are tired of seeing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as wine tasting options, and are looking for more original varietals like Tempranillo, Malbec or Viognier right here in Sonoma County, Imagery Estate is the place to be. The atmosphere is casual and fun, with couples laughing over games in the large and beautiful picnic area surrounded by vineyards and an orchard, and lively hosts ready to converse during a wine tasting flight. It is family friendly—there were well behaved children enjoying the sunny lawn areas while I was there, and a festive feel to the grounds.

Members of their wine club have access to a sleek modern patio area and private tasting room, which was crowded with Imagery Estate enthusiasts eager to try the latest offerings. They do not advertise or sell outside of the winery—you can only purchase their wine on site or as part of their wine club shipments.

Imagery Estate Winery

I enjoyed the $15 wine tasting, there is also a seated tasting available at certain times during the day, with reservation.

Moscato 2016
This delightful white wine was impressive enough for me to purchase a bottle, which I was privileged to have signed by the label artist, who was present that weekend—Colin Talcroft, a local monoprint collage artist from Santa Rosa. The aroma is light of fresh cut grass followed by a sharp citrus taste with floral finish that lingers on the palette. It flows well, without the sweet syrupy taste that some Moscatos suffer from.

Aleatico Rosé 2016
Based on the Italian grape, it has a subtle strawberry aroma. The flavor is pleasantly soft and dry, slightly bitter, and quite bland for a rosé. It is a quiet wine, and would be lovely with lighter food or fish courses.

Viognier 2016
From their Russian River vineyard off Occidental Road, it has an intense blood orange aroma, luscious cheddar flavor and after notes of hibiscus for a pleasant finish.

Tempranillo Upper Ridge 2014
This is a wine of the deep redwoods, filled with a woody aroma, satisfying wash of bark and berries in the flavor, and bite of ashes and campfire smoke. It is a rich, powerful red wine that I would recommend on its own.

Imagery Estate is a must visit winery for anyone wine tasting in Sonoma County. They are welcoming, have picnic grounds for lunch and a bottle of wine, and offer some of the most unique wines in this area.

Why visit Imagery Estate Winery?

  • Incredible wines that you will want to buy a case of
  • Unique varietals available
  • Fun atmosphere and picnic area

Website: www.imagerywinery.com
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: 14335 Highway 12, Glen Ellen

Hidden Gem of Sparkling Mead – Heidrun Meadery

By Alexa Chipman Mar. 22, 2017

Using the methode champenoise with mead is extremely rare, so when I found that Heidrun was a quick jaunt toward the coast, it was an exciting surprise. I did not know what to expect, since mead is usually a sweet syrup texture, and I discovered that changing it into sparkling infuses a dryness with intense flavor.

Heidrun Meadery is twenty years old, and has recently concentrated on their Point Reyes Station farm and honey cultivation after relocating to West Marin. Honey is heavily influenced by surrounding flora, so keeping a local hive is essential, although they also bring honey in from other locations, such as Oregon and Hawaii. Their picnic area is limited, on a first-come, first-served basis, and offers views of quaint farm buildings and distant meadows stretching toward Point Reyes Station.

Heidrun Meadery Tasting Flight

I tried their $15 tasting flight in the greenhouse, which is an airy room filled with plants and warm filtered sunlight. They were quite busy, so the mead was presented without comment or background, and I had to hunt down where to find palette cleansing water glasses, but reservations are available for an in depth tour of the facility that goes into detail about the remarkable process used at Heidrun.

Hawaiian Macadamia Nut
This was my choice from the flight to purchase; it has a dainty crispness to it with almond after note; the flavor is reminiscent of an older oaked chardonnay.

Oregon Meadowfoam Blossom
The bubbles create a slosh of honey that lingers—flowery at first, gradating into a softer sweet finish.

Oregon Radish Blossom
Very pale with a green tinge and definite radish aroma, it has a sharp quality and slightly bitter aftertaste. This mead would be a powerful choice for toasting a special occasion, but not one I would set the table with for dinner.

Madras Carrot Blossom
I was not fond of the overwhelming tangy flavor. The color is a lovely sunset orange that would look amazing in a trumpet flute, but I am not sure I would want to revisit the taste.

California Orange Blossom
This delightfully floral mead has a gentle nudge of honey under a carpet of blossoms drifting across the palette. If you love floral flavors in wine, this is a must try. I think it would be the perfect choice paired with a white cake decorated in edible flowers for a wedding or birthday.

Heidrun Meadery gift shop of honey and candles

I highly recommend Heidrun Meadery’s refreshingly unique approach to an ancient libation. It does not have the dense saccharine quality of regular mead, so if you are hesitant to try a tasting, know that the sparkling version shakes off those negative qualities for a refreshing frothy taste that melts in your mouth.

Why visit Heidrun Meadery?

  • Unique, challenging flavors
  • Unlike any other tasting flight in the area
  • Outside food is allowed—bring your own picnic
  • Beaches within a ten minute drive away

Heidrun Meadery
Website: www.heidrunmeadery.com
Hours: Weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Closed Tuesday)
Weekends from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: 11925 CA-1, Point Reyes Station

Lush Oak Forest at Matanzas Creek Winery

By Alexa Chipman Feb. 7, 2017

Settled in an oak grove between sweeping vineyards, lavender fields and rolling hills, Matanzas Creek Winery’s cheerful creek runs down the property, forming miniature cascades. The architecture is designed to fit in with its environment, primarily of wood and stone, with small seating areas scattered throughout to enjoy the scenery. They are set up for a fun summer afternoon, with bocce ball court and cornholes, the popular game of tossing bean bags at a target.

Matanzas Creek Winery

The gift shop is carefully curated, with helpful wine accessories such as the Menu Breather Decanter, which allows you to aerate an entire bottle of wine, then easily pour it back into the bottle, lovely cheese sets, wine pairing recipe books, and a wide array of lavender products created by the winery from their gardens. If you need to buy the perfect gift for a wine lover, they are a great place to look, and the prices are reasonable.

Matanzas Creek Winery Gift Shop

Matanzas Creek is primarily known for their sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and merlot. I chose to try their wine and cheese pairing flight, which was $25 and well worth the experience.

Matanzas Creek Winery cheese and wine tasting pairing

2014 Sauvignon Blanc – Knights Valley Helena Bench
It had delicate notes of smoke and fruit in the aroma, with a mineral bite to it on the finish; adding the soft cheese allowed a gentler, more refreshing flavor.

2013 Journey Chardonnay
On its own, I did not find it remarkable, what brought out the flavor was adding orange honey glazed almonds, which blossomed the wine into a luscious nutty flavor.

2013 Cabernet Franc / Malbec – Sonoma County
The nose had a strong berry aroma that was delightful, I could have smelled it all day! The wine itself was unfortunately extremely tannic, but the cherry jam pairing complimented the flavor for an intense combination.

2012 Merlot – Bennet Valley, Jackson Park
I am not a fan of Merlot, and this wine changed my rather biased opinion. It is smooth with a beautiful earthiness to it without that odd aftertaste that many merlots suffer from. It was definitely my favorite of the flight, leading me to also try their 2012 Sonoma County merlot. You can taste anything on their wine list, because they have a Coravin Model 8 available, which can pour wine without opening the bottle, rather a nifty tool to have around!

A quick fifteen minutes from the freeway through quintessential Sonoma County landscapes, this quiet little winery is well worth visiting, especially if you love red wine and are tired of endless pinot noir.

Why visit Matanzas Creek Winery?

  • Beautiful lavender fields
  • Casual wine and food pairings and summer events
  • Postcard perfect creek trail and grounds to explore
  • Gift shop with high quality books, cheese boards, and gifts

Website: www.matanzascreek.com
Hours: Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for the cheese tasting)
Location: 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa