Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tour of the Marin County Tasting Rooms

Earlier this month, on a cool and rainy Saturday morning, we drove north towards Marin County for some wine tasting. Deciding which wineries to visit was easy: only two wineries in Marin County have tasting rooms opened to the public.

Our first stop was for a hearty lunch at the Station House Cafe in Point Reyes Station. Then after driving about 2 more miles north on Highway 1, we found the entrance to Point Reyes Vineyards.

Estate vines behind the tasting room at Point Reyes Vineyards

The family owned and operated winery, the first in Marin County since prohibition, is in a peaceful pastoral setting with beautiful views of the West Marin rolling hills. Six acres of grapes are grown just behind the winery that are used to produce a sparkling wine, unfortunately sold out and unavailable for tasting that day. Overall, we didn't enjoy the selection of wines offered in the tasting room, some we found too oxydized, others too high in alcohol, and left disappointed.

The Ross Valley Winery is the other Marin winery with a tasting room. It is situated downtown San Anselmo, about 20 miles north of San Francisco. The place really feels like a neighborhood wine bar with the winemaking facility located in the storefront's back room. Owner and Winemaker Paul Kreider is a jovial man with a laid-back attitude and a minimal intervention philosophy towards winemaking. His wines are seldom fined or filtered and only minimum amounts of sulfites are used. He makes the wines he likes, fruity and accessible instead of hard and tannic.

Owner and winemaker Paul Kreider at The Ross Valley Winery

This time, we enjoyed the wines we tasted as well as the company of our friendly host, even exchanging a few words with some customers passing by. Here are the wines we liked the best:

2006 The Ross Valley Winery Chardonnay Grebennikoff Vineyard Sonoma Valley: light yellow color, no oak, unfiltered, apple and pear on the nose, fresh and crisp on the palate.

2005 The Ross Valley Winery Merlot Oller Vineyard Sonoma Valley: medium red color, black cherry and crushed peppercorns on the nose, juicy with some tannins, slightly oaky on the finish.

2004 The Ross Valley Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Leoni Vineyard Sonoma Valley: medium color, red berries on the nose and notes of vanilla, supple with spices and good acidity on the palate.

Related post:
•  A discovery: Riesling from Marin County

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