Wining In Sonoma
It’s not all camping and hiking for the 160K crew. Nope, sometimes we “dress up” (by which we mean, we put on jeans and a shirt that isn’t stored in the bed of the truck) and head out for some wining and dining. Or in this case, just wining.
Since we were near San Francisco, going to one of the wine regions of Sonoma or Napa was a necessity. We’ve been told by friends that have visited both that Sonoma is cheaper and less touristy, two things that we certainly appreciate. After consulting Edie’s Bay Area friend Danny and his wife Lauren about their favorite spots, we headed to Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards to taste some wine.
Our first stop was Cline Cellars, which specializes in Rhone and Zinfandel wines. We started with the free tasting, which included five free tastes (if we recall correctly) from their selection of wines, plus a few wines that are $1 per taste due to limited availability. We were quite impressed and sprung for 3 bottles of wine.
Next was an excellent tour of the grounds thanks to our fabulous guide Rene. Unlike many other Sonoma-area wineries, Cline’s building and grounds are setup more like an old farm than an Italian villa. Tours start out in the vineyards, where the guide explains the process of grape production, from when to plant, orientation of the fields to the path of the sun, and their use of sheep for “cutting the grass”. Tours then go through the area with the wine presses, fermentation tanks, and storage area. It was definitely one of the best winery tours we’ve been on.
Just be sure not to fall into the ponds. According to the signs, they have mud sharks, alligators, and piranhas feeding in them.
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Jacuzzi is located directly across the street from Cline and is owned by the same family. If the family name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same family that developed a type of pump that’s used in whirlpool and spa tubs. Driving in the front gate of Jacuzzi is like driving into an Italian villa. The grounds are impeccably manicured and the architecture is perfect.
The wines are different, however. Jacuzzi specializes in Italian-style wines rather than the French Rhone-style. Comparisons between the two wineries are difficult. Needless to say, both make incredible wines. We ended up purchasing 2 bottles of wine here, to go with the 3 from Cline, for a solid 5 bottles to share with our hosts further down the California coast.
Like Cline, the first five wine tastes are free. If you’re a lover of dark chocolate, you’ll want to spend a couple of bucks on the dark chocolate shot glass that comes with a sweet dessert wine. Scott had one and was highly impressed. Jacuzzi also has an olive oil bar where you can taste and purchase different olive oils.
One thing that impressed us on the tour of Cline was the focus on sustainable farming. Both wineries are 100% solar powered and instead of using pesticides to kill weeds, they use the aforementioned goats and sheep to wander the grounds nibbling away what the winemakers don’t want. As an added bonus, the manure fertilizes the soil.
You can read more about it in this article: Jacuzzi Wines and Cline Cellars: “Beyond Organic” Winemaking
Well, not very many pictures, but nonetheless, you can get a feel for the ornateness of these places.