A weekend is not enough for Sonoma, but you have start from somewhere! When you decide to go to Sonoma, you should also decide which valley or valleys you would like to visit. It is not an easy decision since all of them are very pretty and has many wineries to visit. So, I was kind of overloaded when I was trying to make a plan. I had already one winery in my mind that I wanted to visit, so Russian Valley was my start point. I’ve also talked with my friends who lives there and took their recommendations. After reading, asking and brainstorming the program was ready:
So, in a nice an sunny Saturday morning in July (2016), we started to drive from Napa to Sonoma and after a challenging curvy drive, we arrived to Russian River. Since we were a bit early for our first appointment, we made a small walk in the vineyards. Such a nice season, when the grapes are close to veraison and the leaves are perfectly green as grapes!
Marimar Estate is from Marimar Torres, who came to USA to introduce Torres wines, in 1975. As she was very successful as the ambassador of Spanish wines in USA, she had stayed and decided to plant a vineyard in 1986. And that is how Marimar Estate had started its naissance.
3 years ago, when I was visiting the winery of Torres in Catalonia, I had learned that they have a winery in Sonoma, and since then, I was dreaming to visit it. Finally, my dreams turned into plans and plans turned into memories!
As the time for our appointment arrived, we entered the property and the statues of dogs welcomed us. (Later on, they explained us these are the family dogs; Chico, Bonita and Brandy who even gave their name to some of the wines of the estate.)
We drove up and we found ourselves in front of a Catalan style cottage house. Inside of this house a very refreshing welcome was waiting for us, with a glass of their delicious blend of Chardonnay (%60) and Albariño (%40) from 2013. I’ve never imagined tasting a blend of these 2 varieties, but it was very interesting. The aromatic notes of Albariño in nose and silkiness of the Chardonnay in mouth made a good couple and complemented each other.
We entered the dining room, very spacious and decorated with furniture from Catalonia. Our tasting table was set on the terrace, with a breathtaking view.
The winery focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but they also have other varieties, Syrah, Tempranillo and Albariño. Let me list the wines that we had the chance to taste. The white wines that were all coming from Don Miguel Vineyard in Russian River Valley:
- Chardonnay Doble Lias 2013 – Unfiltered
- Chardonnay Bonita’s Hill 2013– Unfiltered
- Chardonnay La Masia 2013
- Albariño 2014
The reds from Don Miguel Vineyards in Russian River Valley:
- Pinot Noir La Masia 2014 – Unfiltered
- Pinot Noir Earthquake block 2014 – Unfiltered
The reds from Dona Margarita Vineyards in Sonoma Coast:
- Mas Cavalls 2014
- Chico’s Run 2013 – Unfiltered
- Pinot Noir 2004
I really liked their style and how they use the specialty of the soil and climate with proper winemaking methods, especially usage of the lees during aging. Apart from the fact that it is a very pretty winery which has good wines, it has organic farming certificate and applies biodynamic practices. Moreover, they have a club which organizes interesting events for wine and food lovers. I saw a photo where Marimar Torres was cooking paella on a giant paella pan for the visitors in the dining room; I really would like to be there! Oh by the way, you can also buy the cookbooks of Marimar about Spanish and Catalan cuisine which will make a perfect pairing with their wines. Do visit their website for more information.
With all these vivid flavors of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and colorful views on our memories, we passed to our second winery in Russian River.
Iron Horse Vineyards
”Iron horse is a place to go for the sparklings!” told everyone, so that’s why I couldn’ t miss it. We entered the property from the road surrounded with palm trees.
As we just stopped by without reservation we didn’t have a winery tour and we found ourselves directly in the tasting bar. It is an open-air bar; it actually made me feel like we were by the seaside. It has very casual and summery atmosphere.
The sparkling wines that we tasted with this enjoyable view were:
- Ocean Reserve 2012 Blanc de Blancs (has a special campaign with National Geographic)
- Wedding Cuvée 2012
- Classic Vintage Brut 2011
- Russian Cuvée 2011
- Brut ‘’X’’ 2011
- Brut Rosé 2008
Before we left the place, I saw the sign that says that on Sundays they serve oysters! So, it seems like we came on the wrong day! If you like oysters, make sure that you visit Iron Horse on a summer Sunday and don’t make the same mistake as me! (This means that I will have to turn back there!) More information on their website.
Well, to be honest, we could actually visit more than 2 wineries a day, but it was also good to have time to rest and live the moment rather than make a run in between the wineries.
We had our late lunch, in Mom’s apple pie. As it can be understood from its name, they focus on pies, but as we were really hungry we started with some sandwiches. They were very fresh and tasty. We finished our meal with a piece of pumpkin pie and another of apple pie. They were both delicious.
We had a lovely Saturday and I can’t wait to share our Sunday of Sonoma getaway!
All images © 2017 by Nedret Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.