Saturday, December 5, 2009
All Hail To The Raven!
Whenever I am in Sonoma County, one of my favorite places to visit is Ravenswood Winery. Located in the town of Sonoma, this winery is one of the first California wineries I ever visited and I keep going back for more! I've been there three times now. One of the reasons I enjoy visiting so much is because of the vast amount of different wines they make, including an enormous selection of Zinfandels. And we all know how I feel about Zinfandel!
I believe this winery truly has so much to offer. Founded in 1976, by winemaker Joel Peterson, it began as a small winery and eventually became a world renowned brand! You can pretty much go anywhere and see several of their wines sitting on the shelves! Now I have not met Joel personally (but hope to someday) but the staff at the winery is well-educated and enthusiastic. In fact, I enjoyed my last visit there so much, I visited again a few days later! Guess I couldn't get enough! I have sat on their "patio" with the umbrella covered tables and enjoyed the view, toured their nearby vineyards and even done their famous "blending lab", where you blend your own Zin and and are given a small bottle of your blend to take with! That makes for a decadent afternoon! Afterwards we got to barrel taste! Even better. We definitely needed some help leaving the place. We were just having way too much fun!
As stated before, they make a lot of wines and their wines come in different tier selections. There are the "Vintner's Blend" wines, which are what I call their entry-level wines. Easy drinking, everyday wines at a reasonable price. Usually around $10 at your local shops. I've sampled several of those (sent to me by a local distributor) and I found them to be a great value. So far I have tried the Zinfandel, Merlot and Shiraz. They also make a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Petite Sirah as well as a Chardonnay. The next tier is the "County Series", which are Zinfandels made from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Lodi fruit. Very nice and sell for just under $20 a bottle. These are also easy to find. The tier I am going to discuss today is the "Vineyard Designate" tier. The winery carries a lot of these and I have managed to find a few at some of the wine shops.
Several months ago, I received a couple "Vineyard Designates" from Sam Folsom & Associates, a public relations firm based in San Francisco. I had actually not tried these two yet, which was remarkable considering how many wines Ravenswood offers on their tasting menu. Both Zinfandels were like night and day. The first one was the 2006 Barricia Vineyard Zinfandel. Barricia Vineyard is located in the Sonoma Valley. This was an elegant and smooth Zinfandel. Very luscious blackberry and an almost blueberry flavor with a lot of spicy undertones. I coined the word "pretty" to describe it. It was very delicate. The second one was the 2006 Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel. Teldeschi Vineyard is located up in northern Sonoma County near the town of Healdsburg. It is the prototypical Dry Creek Zinfandel--a lot more rugged, brambly, jammy and in your face! Huge blackberry flavor, spice and some earthiness. A very big Zin! Both Zinfandels sell for $36.00 each.
I can't wait to go back and visit them again. A couple of my friends joined their monthly wine club and have amassed a huge lot of their wines--verticals and all. I'm going to have to raid their wine cellar one of these days! Hint-hint! All in all Ravenswood is a fun winery, producer of some great wines and a great place to start your wine education, blend your own wine or spend a couple nice hours sipping on their patio. Their philosophy is "No Wimpy Wines" so I leave you with this thought...