Author: wigginm2

2016 was another great year for me personally and professionally. Most importantly, I have gotten married, purchased a home, and moved in with my beautiful wife. Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve been missing-in-action in the blog world…

Either way, HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best luck to you and yours. Maybe you’ll see bigger and better things (or at least a more occasional post) from me next year :)

Til Next Time,

Michael

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…and Happy Holidays!  As I’ve shared before, I hope you are taking this time of year to reflect and seize a deserved moment of pause.  The ability to recharge batteries and remind ourselves what’s most important is extremely valuable.  I just wish there weren’t so many of us (myself included) who only seem to really capture these moments once a year during the major holiday season.

Til Next Time,

Michael

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Some of the tremendous photography on display at Eric Ross.

For our second full day, we wanted to do as many tastings as possible, but be strategic about selecting places with great wine reputation, or only vineyards that came highly recommended from other experts (or natives to the area). We started with BenZiger, the parent brand of a favorite from Saturday (Imagery), then went to Eric Ross (our personal favorite from this trip), followed by a few options on the Southern side of Dry Creek Road (Truett Hurst, Dry Creek Vineyard), finally ending up on the Northern side of Dry Creek Road at another prior favorite (Cast) and two other great spots (Trattore Farms and Dutcher Crossing).

Again, I’ve put some reviews, a blurb about each, and some pictures below. Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday:

  • Benziger
    • Overall Score: 5/10
    • Good winery, but felt a little less unique/authentic than its sister property (Imagery). Fortunately, we received two complimentary tastings from Imagery on Saturday. All in all, a good spot, just not really our style.
  • Eric Ross
    • Overall Score: 9/10
    • This place was one of our favorites… ever! We were served our tasting by the husband (Eric Ross) and wife owners and were the only patrons in the place during the hour or so that we were there. Eric has a separate passion in photography, and some of his shots are incredible. Definitely find some time to get to Glen Ellen and find this gem!
  • Truett Hurst
    • Overall Score: 7/10
    • Very good vineyard on Dry Creek Road. Had some unique flair in that it had some farm animals on the property that you could stroll around and play with. They also serve as the naming inspiration for several of their labels. Some good zinfandels!
  • Dry Creek Vineyard
    • Overall Score: 6/10
    • Good wine, cool logo, great location. That’s about it, though. Memorable spot, for sure, but not a “must” for future return trips.
  • Cast
    • Overall Score: 9/10
    • See past post; score still stands! Love this spot.
  • Trattore Farms
    • Overall Score: 6/10
    • Phenomenal views high atop one of the hills on Dry Creek Road. The wines, though, left a little to be desired. Also – the tasting is one of the more expensive ones we’ve seen on the Sonoma side. At the end of the day, a good spot to check out but not one you should expect to get great, decent value wine.
  • Dutcher Crossing
    • Overall Score: 8/10
    • Gave this one an 8 on our last review, and not much has changed. Did end up buying a magnum of Taylor’s Cabernet Sauvignon which we brought back and served at family Christmas. The family enjoyed it – so I’ll definitely let the score stand. Such a cool property, love the logo, and some tasty wines.

Monday:

  • Rams Gate
    • Overall Score: 5/10
    • Listen… This place is immaculate and gorgeous. Totally worth a visit just to check out the property, the tasting room, the novelty of it all. But – when it comes to wines – there are MUCH better wines to be found (and at way, way lower prices). Bottles are well north of $50 apiece, the tasting was something in the neighborhood of $40 (by far the most expensive I think we’ve ever had). If you do go, go during the holidays though. This place’s decorations are on point:

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Til Next Time,

Michael

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For our first full day, we knew we’d be getting a late start since we actually drove up from Danville (~1 hour) that morning. We didn’t let that dampen our spirits though, so we quickly got to work searching for our first target, Schug. As I said to the team there, Schug “basically sponsored our last Christmas (in that our family consumed about 2 cases in total of it during a few day span)” and so it was an obvious first choice. From there, we moved on to Madrone based upon the fact that my wife’s cousin’s boyfriend (follow that?) used to work on the grounds there and in the lab testing fruit/wine acidity levels. After Madrone, we went back to a prior favorite (Deerfield Rach), and closed the day by heading to Imagery (a wonderful recommendation from an old colleague of mine).

I’ve put some reviews, a blurb about each, and some pictures below. Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday:

  • Schug
    • Wine Score: 7/10
    • Property/Tasting Room Score: 6/10
    • Schug was a pleasant surprise for our first winery. We knew the nationally distributed stuff was good, and were hoping to get some “even better” wines there. They didn’t disappoint, and that ended up being the first wine club my wife joined!
  • Madrone
    • Wine Score: 6/10
    • Property/Tasting Room: 7/10
    • Madrone was a recommendation from a prior employee who was at our Thanksgiving meal. The wine was good, with one or two knockouts, and the somewhat-central location made it an easy stop on our way to some of the more remote vineyards.
  • Deerfield Ranch
    • The scores for this one are still consistent with our last review. The only two downsides to this trip to Deerfield were 1) there was a big tour group there so it was rather crowded, 2) the price of the Old Vine Zinfandel rose nearly $20 since our last trip! It’s our favorite wine, though, and we ended up joining the wine club, so it obviously wasn’t that regrettable…
  • Imagery
    • Wine Score: 7/10
    • Property/Tasting Room: 8/10
    • Imagery was a really cool spot. We joined the club, enjoyed the wines, and loved the concept. The vineyard has a huge art collection, and gives each vintage its own original art label. The wines were very diverse, and we enjoyed tasting some wines we’ve never heard of. Many of them are totally uncommon for that area as well (e.g. Lagrein, Mourvedre). Would definitely recommend!

Til Next Time,

Michael

 

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So our trip to wine country actually came on the heels of a visit to my wife’s grandmother for Thanksgiving. Since my grandmother couldn’t make it to our destination wedding (in Rosemary Beach) we knew we should get out and see her to show her the pictures of our incredible event together. As an added bonus, we decided to appropriately decompress from all of the family time with my in-laws by heading up for an “after party” of sorts wine tasting in Sonoma. It was a great decision.

Over the next few days, I’ll post some reviews and pictures from our excursion, and try to get as many of my thoughts down on paper as possible. Here is the list of wineries we visited:

Saturday:

  • Schug
  • Madrone
  • Deerfield Ranch
  • Imagery

Sunday:

  • BenZiger
  • Eric Ross
  • Truett Hurst
  • Dry Creek Vineyard
  • Cast
  • Trattore Farms
  • Dutcher Crossing

Monday:

  • Rams Gate

We were obviously pretty busy, but there’s an odd feeling of accomplishment for getting so much variety (of all things – terrain/scenery, wine itself, as well as vineyard/ownership culture) in such a short trip. We’re quickly becoming experts at this wine country thing, and it’s a shared passion that I’m sure will continue for the rest of our lives.

Til Next Time,

Michael

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So a lot has happened lately. In the past month, I’ve been to Rosemary Beach to get married, back to Tulum for a minimoon (which – for those who don’t know – means it was a quick trip away as newlyweds, but not the full blown “honeymoon” because we are both painfully low on PTO time J), out to San Diego and Orange County for work, to Danville (CA) for Thanksgiving, up to wine country (Sonoma), back to Atlanta for 12 hours, and then out in Northwest Arkansas/Tulsa/Oklahoma City for work.

Quite a mouthful, I know, and that doesn’t explain me being MIA on the blog for several months. My apologies for that. It’s been a busy (but very productive, very fulfilling) summer and fall at work. Then, adding in the stress related to the wedding – I just let it get away from me. I do have a lot of lessons learned though that I want to share as I reflect towards year end on personal and professional accomplishments in 2016.

Starting out, I will go ahead and do some quick and easy reviews on our trip to wine country. Then, I’ll follow up with more volumes of information and pictures from our minimoon. I know each of these will be the third time I’ve covered a spot (Wine Country, Tulum), but it’s exciting to write about because it takes me back to two of our “happy places”.

Til Next Time,

Michael


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