Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Sticks and the Magic of Durell Vineyard

For the past year and a half, I’ve been a member of a tasting panel participating in a series of live events on Twitter. These events for TasteLive, offer an opportunity for wineries and winemakers to interact live with wine bloggers and share their wines with us. I have been fortunate to participate in three events for a winery named Three Sticks. This winery, based in Sonoma County, produces some phenomenal wines! For three events I particpated in, I received samples of the wines and had opportunity to interact with the Three Sticks team via live feed. I'd like to take this opportunity to share some information regarding this winery and what I learned from my experience!

Three Sticks is the brainchild of proprietor Bill Price. Having worked with such award winning wineries as Kistler, Chateau St. Jean and Kosta Browne in the past, he founded Three Sticks in 2002 with the goal to make world class wines from Durell Vineyard, a small vineyard now considered one of the best in Sonoma County. The land bisects three AVAs (American Viticultural Areas)--Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Elements from all three of these AVAs work together perfectly and in the past years, the rocky soils and cool climate have produced many award-winning wines. The wines coming out of this vineyard are pure magic! To make the wines, Bill hired a winemaker whose familiarity with this vineyard was key--Don Van Staaveren. Don brings twenty five years of experience to the table and is best known for being the mastermind behind Chateau St. Jean’s 1996 Cinq Cepages, which was Wine Spectator Magazine’s 1999 Wine of the Year! His reputation for making top notch wines is unbeatable!

Both these men lead a team (which includes winemaker and enologist, Tracey Bledsoe) dedicated to making the best wines possible. I am here to tell you, these wines are superb! You’ll be hearing a lot more from this winery in the future! They have what it takes to conquer the world!!

The 2008 Three Sticks Durell Chardonnay is wonderful! Typically, Chardonnays made from Durell Vineyard grapes are vibrant and full-bodied! This one is unbeatable! Layered and full of bright fruit with just the right amount of acidity and a long finish. It was difficult for me to put this one down and move on to the next wine during each TasteLive session! $45.

The 2007 Three Sticks Durell Pinot Noir is so rich and powerful! Huge, full-bodied, amazing flavors of dark cherry, raspberry, cinnamon spice, even a little floral quality. Very long, smooth finish. It’s tough to beat this velvety dream! I’ll have some more, thank you! $55.

Three Sticks also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon from their vineyards high up above the Sonoma Valley. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a nice blend of the Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec). Well-structured with huge dark fruit flavors and floral components (violets come to mind) this wine will age nicely if you want to lay it down for a few years. It should retain its flavors very nicely. $65.

All of the wines above are very small production. Less than 300 cases of each were made. Isn’t it time you experienced these for yourselves?

Three Sticks wines are available for purchase in lots of 3,6 or 12 bottles by accessing their online store at They also do a limited amount of distribution and are available on restaurant wine lists in the bay area.

I’d like to thank the team at TasteLive and at Three Sticks Winery for sharing such lovely wines with me and allowing me to share the story! Hopefully some day I will be able to visit the Durell Vineyard and see all the magic firsthand! And a big thanks to photographer Michael Wright for taking such beautiful photos and allowing me permission to use them for this story! For more information about TasteLive please check out their website,

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saint Laurent Winery: A Washington State Beauty

Last Summer, while traveling through Washington state for the WBCorBust contest, I had the pleasure of learning about a small, family-owned winery in eastern Washington. The winery was named Saint Laurent Winery and the wines would leave a lasting impression on me. On the second day of the contest, I visited a beautiful place called the Cave B Inn. There I met Sarah Bagdon and Emily Mrachek, two great ladies who work at Saint Laurent! Sarah is the winery's Sales Director and Emily, whose family owns the winery, is their tasting room manager. They introduced me to the wonderful world of Saint Laurent wines and I’m here to tell you, these wines are some of the best that Washington State has to offer!

The winery, located in Malaga, Washington, is so picturesque and immediately I was smitten with what I saw in the photos. The winery produces 4200 cases annually and really epitomizes a small-family winery. When I got back home, I contacted Sarah and she sent me three samples of their wines—the 2009 Riesling, 2006 Syrah and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines, all under $30.00, are values that simply should not be missed. They have incredible flavors and I can honestly say, they are truly some of the best wines I have ever sampled. The labels on the bottles depict beautiful flowers and everything about the place and its wines evokes a vision of beauty! Their price points are unbelievable. I am so excited to have found this winery!

The 2009 Columbia Valley Riesling is a demi-sec style Riesling (meaning 2.4% residual sugar) with huge tropical and floral flavors and characteristics such as mango and honeysuckle. It was amazingly good and paired well with the spicy Thai food I was dining on. At $12.00, this wine is huge deal and my goodness--I'm really not a sweeter Riesling fan but this Riesling is just dry enough and flavorful that I didn't even notice. Outstanding!

The two reds I sampled come from vineyards located in the Wahluke Slope appellation of Washington. It's a really small strip of land in central Washington, one of the driest and warmest regions, making for intensely flavored wines. I actually got to see the region and it was beautiful--out in the middle of nowhere but really surreal!

The 2006 Wahluke Slope Syrah made me melt! It is simply wonderful! Every drop of it! It had a lush blackberry flavor with a small amount of smokiness. I wanted more more more! My jaw dropped when I saw the price--$22.00. It is worth so much more than that! This wine has helped me inch that much closer to being a Syrah-lover! I’m getting there! This wine received 91 points in Wine Spectator Magazine.

Last but not least, I sampled the 2006Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has won many accolades including a 92 point rating in Wine Spectator Magazine. And rightfully so! It has a great backbone, lots of dark berry flavor and a smooth finish. And wait til you hear the price point---$28.00!! This is why Washington state wines are such a well-kept secret! Unbelievable and wonderful! You really need to try this!

I truly hope I can visit the winery someday and see all this splendor for myself! The grounds are beautiful and scenic. It’s almost like a little piece of paradise in Washington!

Saint Laurent wines are available on their on-line store at They also do a small amount of distribution in several states. Please visit their tasting room in Malaga, WA when they open again soon! (They are currently closed for the Winter season) They are located at 4147 Hamlin Road. To schedule a private tasting, please call ahead at 509-888-9463.

Please discover Saint Laurent Winery for yourselves! You will love them!

I want thank Sarah Bagdon and Emily Mrachek for their wonderful hospitality and friendship! See you ladies very soon hopefully!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.