Friday, April 19, 2013

The Annapolis Winery, just a few miles away from the Sonoma Coast

Last month, we rented a beach house at Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast for a couple of days. The private road leading to the house was just on the opposite side of a small road going inland and a sign indicating a winery, so after a hike along the coast, we felt adventurous and followed a deep redwood-filled canyon until we reached the tiny farming town of Annapolis.

The winery was easy to find, just off Annapolis road, on top of a vineyard-covered hill. There was a small and homey tasting room opened every day until 5:00pm surrounded by a grassy meadow where people can bring their picnic and sip wine while enjoying the panoramic view.

The place was an apple orchard when the Scalabrini family moved to Annapolis in 1976. Vineyards of Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon blanc were planted in 1978. Today, the family makes small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel.

The local growing conditions, at 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean and an elevation of about 1,000 feet, are particularly favorable to wine production. The land is cooler than Carneros or the Russian River Valley while much less foggy than the coast, so the area is considered well suited for Pinot Noir. For the Scalabrinis, the focus is on quality, not quantity: sustainable farming, hand-picked fruits, and minimalist winemaking style. The results are lush and intense wines, sometimes a little too big for our taste.

We found the Cabernet Sauvignon quite big and oaky and the Zinfandel, full-bodied, very fruit-forward, and like most Zinfandel, high in alcohol. We preferred their 2007 Annapolis Pinot Noir. The wine was not light but smooth with rich flavors of dark fruits and spices followed by a well-balanced finish.

After the tasting, we walked for a while in the vineyards to enjoy the the warmth of afternoon sun and the views of the redwood-covered hills, a landscape so peaceful, so different from the rugged coast just a few miles away.

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