May 13, 2017 Tucked along scenic Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen is a snug, weathered tasting room. It may not have an impressive building, but some of its wine certainly is. The interior is filled with comfortable couches and a distinctive rooster symbol scattered about the room, referencing an incident early in the winery’s history, when the forklift was moving from the barn to crush pad and nearly collided with a rooster, causing quite a flurry of squealing brakes and squawking. The proud rooster is found in the logo and on bottle labels, although my first thought was that it reminded me of Petaluma, which used to be jokingly known as the chicken capital of the world.
May 7, 2017 Resplendent with pink and white roses, Chinese lantern bushes of dangling fiery blossoms and heaps of cascading mandarin orange flowers, the grounds of Chateau St. Jean are dazzling in springtime, with meandering pathways, picnic tables and benches to enjoy a glass of wine. Its European style, known as the “chateau” by neighbors, who inspired the name, was built from 1916-1920 as a summer home for a family from Michigan. They were popular hosts, and received a magnolia tree gifted by Luther Burbank that stands to one side of the patio, nearly 100 years old. Although not conceived of as a winery, there were white wine grapes planted on the original estate.
May 1, 2017 Towering red cliffs and wide desert filled with Joshua trees surrounds Las Vegas, meandering through dusty roads to the town of Pahrump. An eclectic mix of independent survivors in rustic trailers and exquisite homes, it is not where you would expect to find a renowned winery. In a landscape of brush and rabbits, it was the first Nevada winery, but was neglected until 2003 when entrepreneurs Bill and Gretchen Loken stumbled across the opportunity to renovate and expand the business.