Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sbragia Family Vineyards: Family Unity and Great Winemaking

It seems that lately, we folks here in Iowa have been getting a lot of California winemakers visiting us. Iowa is a hot bed for fans of California wines and when winemakers visit us, we just eat it up! I've met five in the past several months and nothing impressed me more than meeting Adam Sbragia of Sbragia Family Vineyards this past week. When I found out he was coming here to visit, I got really excited because 1) I'd never tried their wines before. 2) I'd never had the chance to visit the winery on my previous trips to Dry Creek and 3) I'd heard great things about the family and hoped that everything I'd heard was true! Well, it was and so much more!

For those not familiar with the Sbragia Family, here is a great story. You've all heard of Beringer Vineyards. Who hasn't? For many, many years, Beringer has been a staple in a lot of households, not to mention grocery stores, wine stores etc. Adam's father is Ed Sbragia, who was Beringer's winemaker for 35 years. He still does consulting for Beringer. Adam even joked that the income generated from all the years Beringer sold (and still sells) their infamous "White Zinfandel" helped put him through school! (Everyone in the room chuckled...) Ed has a new project now---his own winery in Geyserville, which is located in Sonoma County at the northern end of Dry Creek. New to us here in Iowa maybe, but not new in California as it has been around for a few years. And I must say, we are happy to finally have the wines available here!

Sbragia Family Vineyards is truly a family affair. Just listening to Adam speak about his family gave me a warm feeling as there seems to be such unity between them and every family member is involved in the everyday business of the winery. The wines we sampled were exceptional and a real value for what they have put into them. As I sat there and listened, I smiled because his enthusiasm was genuine!

I belong to a couple groups that get together once a month at some of our Hy-Vee grocery stores and sample great wines, great food and occasionally mingle with the best of the best--winemakers from California! It was at one of these meetings that Adam arrived bearing great wines! We sampled six that evening and I'd like to share my thoughts on a few of them:

2009 Sbragia Family Home Ranch Sauvignon Blanc: Beautiful, handcrafted Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley. A plethora of citrus flavor, a little bit of guava and pineapple and crisp finish. The closure on this bottle is very interesting. It's made of glass! Adam says with this wine, he didn't want any air getting in or out of it, making it drink now and perfect! He was right! $17.00.

2007 Sbragia Family Home Ranch Chardonnay: This is what I call cooler climate Chardonnay. Closer to the Sonoma Coast, giving it a cool pear flavor and lots of flinty minerality. I believe you may also find the 2008 vintage out available now.

2007 Sbragia Family Home Ranch Merlot: I loved this wine. Brimming with cherry and plum flavors. I would drink this wine a million times over! Rich, delicious and a no-brainer. $25.00.

2006 Sbragia Family Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon: Ah, this is the motherlode. Nearly everyone into wine has heard of the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard. Well, they're very choosy about who they contract their grapes to and they only stick with family wineries. I would call this wine a bargain at $50.00. It was very rich and intense and a keeper for the next few years!

I'm really grateful for this experience. Sharing these wines with Adam was a lot of fun and I simply cannot wait to visit the winery and sit down and have lunch with Adam and his Dad. What a nice family! They really care about what they do. Visit them and you shall see! For those of you who aren't able to make it to Dry Creek soon, please visit their website, or visit your local wine shops to purchase these wines. They are worth it!

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