Tasting Kenwood wines from the store is nothing like tasting with the winemaker himself. So much the better if you can do it after a tour of the vineyards and winery. Seeing the historic estate sitting amongst acres and acres of vines, really gives the “big name brand” wines a sense of time, place, and personality.
If you haven’t heard of Flanagan Wines yet, then listen up because this boutique winery is worth seeking out during your next wine country getaway. With wines that are just as charmingly boisterous as proprietor Eric Flanagan, there’s no better location for their new winery than on a hilltop along the illustrious Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Complete with a cozy tasting room overlooking scenic Sonoma, there’s no better place to sip and savor the story captured in every Flanagan Wines bottle.
If you’re at all familiar with Sonoma County wines, then the name Bacigalupi probably at least rings a bell. Charles and Helen Bacigalupi purchased their original16 acres of existing vineyards back in 1956 simply maintaining the pre-existing plantings. It wasn’t until 1964 that Charles started to experiment with, the now notorious California varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Back then, Bacigalupi was solely a vineyard, not a wine producer, but the name gained serious recognition during the 1976 Paris tasting when the 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Chåteau Montelena — made with 40% Bacigalupi grapes — beat out the French competition.
Indeed, the Bacigalupi’s main business is still sourcing their grapes to various wineries around the Sonoma wine region and include such major players as William Selyem. But the Bacigalupi family do boast their own wine label as well, producing just around 2000 cases annually. So, to taste and to buy, one must visit the Bacigalupi Westside Road winery in Healdsburg.
I first met Steve and Brian at the 2016 Rhone Rangers event in SF. After tasting a few of their Rhone-specific varietals (namely their Grenache Blanc, rosé of GSM, and GSM Rhone-style blend), I was immediately in awe with what these boys could do. What was more amazing to me was, while most other participants either hailed from California’s known “Rhone region” of Paso Robles or were large wineries — both in name and production quantity — with direct connections to the French Rhone roots, these two guys are situated in their own little nook in the heart of the Russian River Valley.
I love that new local wine shops and urban wineries are popping up all over the Bay Area recently. It’s like a fresh generation of winemakers are speaking up — and their stories are all about bringing Old World wine classics in to our modern day and age. And such is the case of winemaker Nicole Walsh of Ser Winery.