Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the Wine Road...

This week I hit the Northern Sonoma County Wine Road Once a year, wineries from the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys open their doors to the public for barrel tasting. It is a great event spanning two weekends in March for the public to go out to Sonoma County wineries, meet the winemakers and taste the current vintage in barrel.

I had a wonderful time touring the countyside with friends and even though there are over 160 wineries to choose from, we were able to visit only four. Each winery has several barrels to taste and you will want to try all of them! If you attempt the Wine Road barrel tasting pace yourself, the pours are generous and remember to bring along a designated driver!

Notably in my day out, I want to mention one winery in particular that has reached legendary status spanning four decades -- Joseph Swan Vineyards. Founded by Joe Swan, this estate winery has had more notable vintages I know of than any other its size. Focusing on Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, the winery has always maintained that "small was beautiful"; where carefully tended vineyards could be maintained by one person and this led to more intense and age-worthy wines.

Some time ago I learned this from my mentor Dr. Jerry Seps at Storybook Mountain Vineyards and he learned it from his mentor Joe Swan over 35 years ago. It is a philosophy that VELLUM will always admire and pursue and it is a privilege to carry on such a tradition.

If you can get a hold of the old wines of Joseph Swan Vineyards please do. I hear that they are very much alive! It was a pleasure barrel tasting there and I want extend the invitation to any who want to share a similar experience with us!

- Karl Lehmann

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