Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Inspiration Worth Having...

I've been really busy lately and sometimes I get so caught up in the whirlwind I call my every day life that I neglect to do what I love best--writing about my favorite wines and wineries. We bloggers all have our moments like this I'm sure! Sometimes all it takes is one special glass of wine to change all of that...

I've been an advocate of the small family winemaker for years! My fascination with their passion and hard work to handcraft special wines from the ground up just amazes me! One such winemaker is Jon Phillips, who along with his wife Barbara, owns Inspiration Vineyards, a small family winery in the Santa Rosa area of Sonoma County. Jon began his road to a career in wine during the 90s working at Mirassou Winery tasting room. He had always had an interest in wine as his great-grandparents were owners of a vineyard in San Martin in the early 1900s. Jon continued his journey by teaching wine appreciation classes and expanding his own education through UC Davis. In 1999, Jon and Barbara produced their first wine--a barrel of Contra Costa Zinfandel made with grapes they purchased from Rosenblum Cellars.

In just a few short years, they took their "home" winery, expanded it and turned it into something really special. In 2001, they were able to finally achieve their dream. They purchased a six-acre property in Sonoma County and began getting the permits to build their own winery. Since then, they've worked hard turning their vision into a thousand case production winery. Jon is such a nice, down to earth guy and the wines really speak for themselves. I truly believe more people out there should discover these wines. Jon had wanted me to sample the wines for quite awhile but somehow I just could not make a meeting work on my last visit out there. So, he was gracious and sent me a few bottles to sample. I'd like to share some words on some of my favorites...

2008 Zinspiration--I had the chance to try a style of wine one doesn't find a lot of and after trying it, I'm not really sure why. This wine is a dry Rosé made from Zinfandel grapes from Muzzin Vineyard in the Alexander Valley. Dry Rosé is not to be confused with White Zinfandel, which is the much taunted sweeter version. They are two different animals! The Zinspiration is fantastic, refreshing and the perfect beverage for sipping wine on the patio in the Summertime. It explodes with strawberry and citrus flavors and has a crisp dry finish! I love it! I want more...I wish more Zinfandel producers out there would make one. Get it while you can! $15.00.

2007 Viognier--Made with grapes sourced from Jacobs Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, this unfiltered Viognier has unique characteristics. Usually with Viognier you get the floral aromas and flavors, but this one is different. It is full of stone fruit--lush with apricots and peaches. Medium-bodied and delicious! The perfect accompaniment for Asian and Indian foods or anything spicy. It will cool your palate with its breezy flavors. Very nice. Viognier is starting to become a favorite of mine. $29.00.

2007 Pinot Noir--Ah, cool climate Carneros Pinot Noir! The grapes for this 2009 Sonoma County Harvest Fair gold medal winner came from Martin Ranch is Los Carneros, a region on the southern end of Sonoma County (also sharing area with Napa County). With this you get a lovely cranberry-strawberry flavor with hints of earth and tobacco. Aged in French Oak for a lovely, smooth and not overly-oaked finish. I really enjoyed this one! $30.00.

2007 Zinfandel Russian River Valley--I am a Zin fanatic but most of you already know this! I love Zinfandel for its rich, lush fruit flavors and sometimes high alcohol content making for a large, jammy, over the top wine. With this Russian River Zinfandel, Jon has introduced me to a different style of the beautiful varietal. With low alcohol and a ton of flavor, this wine came up and surprised me! I never knew I could enjoy a Zin with low alcohol. (Under 14%) It is refined, elegant, spicy and warm with blackberry, dark cherry and cinnamon spice but none of that familiar burn. It's not hot, just enjoyable. An added note, Jon also makes a killer Zinfandel from Alexander Valley! Check them both out! $23.00.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon--Jon even makes a Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes from the Callaway Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley-area of northern Sonoma County. This is a very straight forward Cabernet with dark cherry, blackberry, cassis and toasted oaks. Soft tannins make this wine food friendly and drinkable alone. I enjoyed the big up front flavors and smooth finish. Another award winner! Bravo! $30.00.

Jon and Barbara both have a lot to look forward to! With award-winning wines and a passion for their craft, I know they will do very well! The wines are very affordable and worth a lot more than their price tag reveals. I am looking forward to tasting more and visiting them on my next trip out to Sonoma County! They have what it takes and I hope you will take the time to discover their wines as well. The winery is located at 2040 Olivet Road in Santa Rosa. They welcome visitors by appointment which can be made through their website, They don't distribute their wines nationwide yet but do ship to many states and have an online store. Please check the website for new vintages and current availability as these are very small production wines and they go fast! Thank you, Jon, for allowing me to get a glimpse of your world and your wines! You have truly been an "Inspiration" to me!


  1. Very nice to read! Sad we have almost no chance to get wines from smaller US wineries over here...

  2. You described my type of Zin. Also love the wines from the RRV. Will have to find or order.

  3. Thank you Grace - your words were very kind.

    Since reviewing, our latest 08 vintage of our Old Vine Zin is almost sold out - and our 05 Cab is completely gone... The new tasting room is in construction, and we hope to be open to welcome visitors in July!

    Thanks again and Cheers!