Tag: Cast

Cast

Cast: our favorite happy place in Dry Creek Valley

On our third day in Napa (a Saturday, and our friend Jamie’s birthday), we decided to venture over to Sonoma. It was Katy and I’s day to plan, and we really wanted to expose the group to a side of wine country they had likely never seen (i.e. the less snooty, more affordable side!).

Something different this trip: we had a limo taking us around all day. It was the first time Katy and I had done this and it was definitely a much safer alternative that allowed us to focus more on our time with friends (instead of navigating, losing cell service, etc etc). This did present some challenges, though, in terms of staying on schedule. Admittedly, the group was a bit more relaxed and leisurely than we predicted, so missing out on one tasting wasn’t the end of the world.

We originally aimed to do Cast, a possible flex option before lunch, Imagery, Eric Ross, and Saintsbury. We only ended up getting to Cast, Eric Ross, and Saintsbury. It was still a blast!

The reviews from day three:

  • Cast
    • Wine Score: 9/10
    • Property/Tasting Room Score: 9/10
    • Notes: Very consistent with our prior trips (this was at least our 3rd visit to the vineyard).
  • Eric Ross
    • Wine Score: 8/10
    • Property/Tasting Room Score: 8/10
    • Notes: While it was very enjoyable (similar to our prior visits), we were a bit turned off this time because we were not greeted as favorably because we were a large group. Considering this is the type of place that doesn’t really accommodate large groups, we shouldn’t have been too upset about it, but the fact that we did reserve in advance left us a bit sad. Once the owner came over though and put two-and-two together – they did seem to be much warmer with us.
  • Saintsbury
    • Wine Score: 9/10
    • Property/Tasting Room Score: 10/10
    • Notes: We actually rated Saintsbury higher this time. Not because it was less enjoyable the first time around (we scored it overall 8/10). But more so because the experience as a group was so enjoyable. Everything from our new best friend Jacob (who poured us delicious wine), to the fact that we signed up for the wine club (because, admittedly, this is still the best Pinot Noir we’ve ever had and only realized that much later after our first visit), everything just seemed right. And, to top it off, the owner and head vintner/winemaker was there. They even autographed the magnums I purchased. How cool!!

All in all, we had an amazing trip and were very fortunate to get to spend it with so many of our friends. Can’t wait to go back next March!

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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The patio at Cast

On the second day, we went around a lot of the wineries up on Dry Creek Road – which is still most likely my favorite area in all of wine country.

Day 2… Five Wineries in Kenwood/Dry Creek Rd/Sonoma:

  • Deerfield Ranch (Kenwood):
    • Pros: Convenient stop if you are planning to “head North” and get up into RRV or Dry Creek Rd, best “old vine” Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted, a real hidden gem with great staff
    • Cons: More of a “cellar”/cave feel – so you lose a bit in terms of views
    • Fun Fact: The Old Vine Zin is sourced from the grapes right out in front of the property
    • Overall Score: 8/10 – definitely worth a stop
  • Ferrari Carano (Dry Creek Rd):
    • Pros: Still one of my favorite wineries due to the notoriety and ability to source locally, absolutely stunning grounds, very nice cellar/barrel area as well as a great “VIP” tasting room
    • Cons: Most of the wines are already distributed nationally, tours require advance reservation, the winery as a whole is a bit more commercial with lots of non-wine products in their gift shop (which takes away a bit from the ambience)
    • Overall Score: 8/10 – definitely worth a stop
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The grounds at Ferrari-Carano

  • Cast (Dry Creek Rd):
    • Pros: Definitely the “biggest surprise” as it totally exceeded expectations based on a local’s otherwise typical recommendation, fantastic wines, unique blends you don’t find everywhere, a magical patio atmosphere that has a tremendous view, good snacks accompany the tasting
    • Cons: Unless someone else tells you about it, you’d never have heard of it or even know it was there
    • Fun Fact: The Petite Syrah comes from the grapes right out in front of the patio
    • Overall Score: 9/10 – this place is awesome and I can’t wait to go back
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…that point in the trip where I get real artsy…

  • Dutcher Crossing (Dry Creek Rd):
    • Pros: Very nice grounds, awesome design aesthetics/logo and integration of the big bicycle
    • Cons: Gift shop/tasting area is a bit commercial, similar to Ferrari-Carano
    • Overall Score: 8/10 – definitely worth a stop
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The entry to Dutcher Crossing

  • Sbragia (Dry Creek Rd):
    • Pros: Elevated property yields nice views of Dry Creek Valley, good crackers available during tasting
    • Cons: Nothing terribly memorable about the wines, the shop, the staff
    • Overall Score: 6/10 – not overly memorable; I’d say “skip it”

Til Next Time,

Michael

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