Sunce Winery is a family-run business through and through. Husband and wife team Frane and Janae Franicevic have been working together for 26 vintages. With his winemaking abilities, her marketing skills, and their dual passion for turning great grapes into great wine, Sunce Winery receives consistent accolades year after year. While three out of four acres in their estate vineyard (called Zora after one of their three daughters) is planted to Pinot Noir, the family sources 39 different varietals from throughout California to create a full portfolio of wine offerings. In 2013 the family turned to the Russian River Valley — home to some of the oldest and boldest Zinfandel grapes. (more…)
Tag: Sonoma wine
Raeburn is a name you’ll see on the shelves of your local grocer — but did you know that the name Raeburn comes from an Olde English word meaning “the river where one goes to drink?” And so I think it is fitting that this Pinot Noir represents the Russian River Valley in my Pinot Noir style spectrum. Characterized by its cool, maritime climate that’s funneled in through the Petaluma Gap from the Pacific Ocean, the Russian River is an idyllic place for picky Pinot. The AVA is also home to some unique soil types, including the Goldridge Soil (volcanic rich soil), Sebastapol Soil (clay rich soil), as well as alluvial soils along the benchland — meaning the Russian River, itself, can have an interesting range of Pinot Noirs.
Lester and Linda Schwartz discovered their love of wine in their native homeland of Cape Town, South Africa. A lawyer and an artist, respectively, the couple found themselves living in California, and it wasn’t long before Lester got the itch to build himself a countryside home reminiscent of his roots. So they purchased a plot of naked land along the craggy cliffs of the Pacific Ocean in what would eventually become the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. The couple custom-built their own home, featuring traditional South African architecture; just a few years later they planted their first grapevine rootstocks and saw near immediate success. Alongside legendary winemaker Jeff Pisoni, today Lester and Linda craft beautiful Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and — as a nod to their heritage — Pinotage. (Fun fact: Lester and Linda were the first private grape growers to import Pinotage vine cuttings.)
Was I late to the Ferrari-Carano game? Maybe. I believe I’d had their Fume Blanc sometime in the past, but don’t feel like I truly became a part of the FC club until I tried their UNA GSM Red Blend. While that one seems to be a bit of an anomaly amongst their portfolio, it certainly hooked me and made me understand why this iconic vineyard is, well, iconic, and has such a heavy cult following. Today, I continue my exploration of Ferrari-Carano with one of their classics — their Sonoma County Chardonnay.
The story of The Withers winery is one of a small-time dream turned big-time success. Across the board, The Withers wine portfolio is made up of single-vineyard bottlings from both the Sonoma Coast and El Dorado. While the two may seem quite disparate, it is for a reason. While some of the most nuanced Rhones come out of California’s inland El Dorado County, there’s no denying that Sonoma is home to some of the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Thus, they have a portfolio that — I would say — speaks of California’s greatest wine successes. And, what I particularly love, is because they’re all single-vineyard bottlings, one can really taste the fingerprint of time and place with each sip.