Saturday, April 7, 2012

An Afternoon At Garagiste Healdsburg

Back in October, I was celebrating yet another birthday with my fabulous wine country girlfriends, when one of them gave me a bottle of wine as a gift. 2008 Cartograph Wines Two Pisces Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. I had barely heard of Cartograph Wines let alone tried any of it. But I was fascinated...So when I got back home, I did some research and on my latest trip, I decided I wanted to visit them. Why? Because their story, like so many that I am encountering as I venture my way through wine country, is inspirational. I've met many who pick up their lives and move to California to realize their dreams. I plan to do that myself very soon! They had a dream and guess what? It's coming true!! That's an inspiration!

I let another friend of mine plan the visit and on a quiet and chilly early Sunday afternoon, we all got in the car and ventured to Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County. I've been to Healdsburg many times but never to a tasting room in the downtown area. So this was a first for me. However, this place was more than just a tasting room as I would soon find out. It was also a great lounge to hang out with good friends and a micro-winery where small lot wines were showcased!

Alan Baker and Serena Lourie met at Crushpad in San Francisco. Alan, a Minnesota native packed up his life and moved west to make wine. Serena also did this from the east coast. Alan made his first Pinot Noir, under the Cellar Rat label, while at Crushpad and Serena helped him make other wines. Soon the two were collaborating on their own project, which brings us to the present and this wonderful little place they call Garagiste Healdsburg!

To understand Garagiste Healdsburg is to understand the concept behind it. A "Garagiste" is a person who handcrafts small lots of wine with passion and care. Alan and Serena are small lot winemakers who take pride in their work and it most certainly shows! Their wines are amazing and I had a wonderful time sampling these delights. The tasting room also features the wines of their friends, Stark Wines--another example of handcrafted goodness. These are gems you will not want to miss!! Garagiste Healdsburg is very modern, airy and welcoming. Alan and Serena are wonderful hosts!

The tasting room features a very lengthy menu that the owners switch up from time time. Wine can be purchased by the glass or by the bottle.

Among some of my favorites (it was tough to choose because I loved them all!) were some interesting whites.

2010 Cartograph Floodgate Vineyard Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer isn't a wine I drink a lot of but one sip of this spicy, sassy white and I immediately started thinking about all the Asian, Mexican and Indian cuisine I could pair it with! $22.

2009 Stark Windsor Oaks Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay. This is where the bold and the beautiful comes into play! Huge, creamy, and tropical. When I'm in the mood for this style of Chardonnay, this is where I would come to find it. They only made 118 cases so get it now while you can! $30.

And some interesting reds...

2009 Cartograph Perli Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir. Interesting and rustic. Leather, mushrooms, cranberries, very full-bodied. Perfect for those gamey meals but I'd drink it with a lamb chop or a huge steak. It's va-va-voom and in your face! $42.

2009 Stark Eaglepoint Ranch Mendocino Ridge Syrah. Drool. Drool. Nom. Nom. Nom. My mouth is watering when I think about this wine. It is so elegant. To me, it was almost perfect. Layers and layers of dark fruit and minerals. Another small case production. 118 cases. Very recommended. $42.

The more I sampled, the more I didn't want to leave! I had such a great time meeting Alan and Serena and hanging out with my close girlfriends. It was such a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I highly recommend everyone visit this little place. It will certainly find a place to stay in your hearts!

I want to thank Alan Baker and Serena Lourie for being such gracious hosts and making such great wines! I would love for you two to join me on Twitter the evening of April 18th as we discuss Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir on #winechat!! I will come back and see you in July!!

I also want to thank my wonderful friends Thea Dwelle, Jerae Knutson, Sherri Housman and Barbara Phillips for being part of this great afternoon! I hope you had as much fun as I did! A special thanks to Katherine Parker, for bringing Cartograph Wines to my attention!

For more information on Garagiste Healdsburg, Cartograph and Stark Wines, please visit the following website: Follow them on Twitter at @garagistehbg and @cartographwines or visit their Facebook page!

But don't just take my word for it! Go visit them! They are located at 439 Healdsburg Avenue.

"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.


  1. Cheers Grace. Thanks so much for your kind words and for making time to visit us. Keep us up to date on your California dreams. Persistence of Vision - trust it.
    Alan B - Cartograph

  2. Great tip Grace, these winemakers are definitely making a name for themselves. I'm especially intrigued by the "elegant" Syrah that you describe. That's definitely my favorite style of Syrah...layered and restrained.

  3. Looks like you had a wonderful day wine tasting.

    The Drinking Girls
    Tiffani & Ashleigh