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Wine Tasting: Sonoma

What to do with a free day when driving from north of San Francisco down to Los Angeles? Wine tasting, of course! This was my first time tasting in Sonoma and with very little planning, my brother and I set out in our rented Ford Fiesta for the vines, somewhat mirroring Miles and Jack in the movie, Sideways, which took place just south, in Santa Barbara.

We begun our tasting at Paradise Ridge, based off of high yelp reviews. This isn’t usually how I like to discover wineries but like I said, this trip had little planning and was last minute. Nevertheless, the wines were nice, particularly a sparkling blanc de blancs, and the estate was beautiful, overlooking the vineyard, and complete with a sculpture garden. When I had finished the tasting, I asked what wineries they themselves enjoyed, and was directed to VML winery outside of downtown Healdsburg.

VML is another incredible winery, practicing biodynamic agriculture in its vineyard. Some of their wines have scored high on the wine spectator, including the 2012 Russian River Pinot Noir, at 93 points. The Pinots are dense and extracted.

Next up was Porter Creek, which turned out to be my favorite winery of the trip. Just down the street from VML, this tiny winery makes one of the most outstanding Pinot Noirs I have tasted, ever! The 2012 Fiona Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir is on par with Grand Cru Burgundies, and at a small fraction of the price. This wine has deep layers on the nose of ripe red berries, toast, and a hint of caramel. On the palate it is velvety smooth. I had to take a few bottles of this home with me.

To finish out the tasting, we headed to De La Montanya. The wines were fine, but they have one odd series of wines called their "pin up" wines that weirded me out. Apparently, female members of the winery can place their name in a box to be picked to take a racy photo shoot with the wine maker, and one of the photos will be printed onto bottles. Some racket this guy has going on.

(photo credit: pinupwines.com)

Miles' and Jack's adventure didn't completely mirror our's, theirs' ending with broken bones, wrecked cars, tattered relationships, and a pile of lies, and my brother's and my journey culminating with just a couple of bottles of wine and a nice afernoon; but both groups discovered the breathtaking wines and beauty of Califonia's wine country and probably became a little closer to eachother in the end.

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