Artistic Style at Argyle

I have been on a bubble mission for years now.  I've been looking for something reasonably priced and delicious. France just seems to knock it out of the park thanks to Champagne, but I've been hunting for something American made. I never would have expected that I would find that same Champagne experience just outside of Portland.

Let me introduce you to Argyle Winery.

This tasting room is modern and nothing short of mammoth in size. The ceilings are high and dark wood covers the walls and if you take stroll around the building, art from emerging artists is to be found.

 The tasting room was full of tables for sit down tastings and there was room at the bar if you wanted standing tasting. If it weren't for the chill in the air, I would have opted to sit outside and take in the sunset. A venue just as lovely as the wines that can be found inside.

I had read up on Argyle before my trip to Oregon, and was especially set on tasting their sparkling wine. But when it came time to sit and taste...two tastings were needed: their Pinot Noir flight and their sparkling flight. The flights both ran at $18 each. Some might thing that this is a bit pricy for a flight, but trust me, they are worth every penny and the fee is waved if you buy two bottles- and trust me again, you will.

What makes Argyle sparkling wines so phenomenal is how they are made. These wines are made in the traditional sense that they are fermented in the bottle which is incredibly labor intensive and time consuming. But frankly, I think this is the best way to make a sparkling wine. I couldn't resist their 2013 Vintage Brut. This sparkling wine is balanced and the price point is on point as well.

Their Pinot Noir pours did not disappoint either. Four tastes were poured and the stand out for me was the Cowhouse Pinot Noir. This Pinot was full of depth and flavor, and I am kicking myself for not buying a bottle of this along with my other purchases.

After tasting the Pinot Noirs and Sparkling wines, our gracious host let us try some of their Rieslings and their ice wine. Yes, ice wine. This was actually my very first ice wine, and I must admit that I am a fan.

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I fully expected myself to come home with bottles and bottles of sparkling wine and Pinot, but I surprised myself and purchases a bottle of the Below 5 Riesling and a bottle of the Nuthouse Riesling. 

Argyle is at the top of my list for places that I recommend people to go when tasting in Oregon. There is something for everyone no matter where on the spectrum their wine tastes fall. This tasting room is perfect for groups both large and small, and has a friendly and welcoming staff that make the experience more than just sipping good wine.

Will I be back? 

Definitely. 

Has their sparkling wine become my new party go to? 

I think so.

 

 

 

Diving into Duckhorn

Now, I am often too lazy to take myself up to Napa Valley. I often stroll up to Sonoma at best, but after recently taking inventory of all the wine in my possession... I realized that I am overflowing with summer pink wine and severely lacking in deep, red wine.

ALAS! TIME TO GO TASTING AGAIN!

First up on my Napa excursion was Duckhorn Vineyards. The first time I ever had wine from Duckhorn was at a beach front bar in Belize- not exactly where you expect to find high end Napa wine. I've had this place on my list ever since.

This tasting room was in the far north of Napa Valley and quite adorable upon approaching.

I mean, I could just live here and wear dresses and drink tea forever. Well, no, drink wine and sometimes tea forever.

Tasting was on the moderate side in terms of price points. $35 isn't the worst for a tasting in Napa Valley; I've seen much steeper. Honestly, for the pours received and quality of service, I found the price to be worthy of the tasting experience. 

Skip the cheese and salami pairing here. Great options, but not $20 worth in my opinion. 

Skip the cheese and salami pairing here. Great options, but not $20 worth in my opinion. 

The tasting was hosted on a patio where I could look out and see the grounds from my shaded table. 

Our host was friendly and went beyond the standard tasting so I could tip toe into some of my go-to wines (ahem- chardonnay). And the pours stayed generous. Make sure you have a designated driver because unless you sip and spit, you will not leave here able to drive legally and safely.

The tasting had wines from multiple wineries that are affiliated with Duckhorn including Migration Wines, Goldeneye Winery, and a couple others. Migration and Goldeneye were my personal favorites of the lot. Believe me. I will be writing posts on those places soon enough! I loved that Duckhorn presented their wines along with providing the availability of their sister wineries. While Duckhorn provides some stunning bold reds, they still were able to open my eyes to new places to visit that are in my normal go to wheelhouse. Talk about a win for those of us who want to branch out but still cling to our near and dear. 

If this winery hadn't been my first stop of the day, I would have 100% joined the wine club. 

  1. multiple wines to indulge in
  2. fair price points for the bottles
  3. free tastings at sister wineries
  4. gorgeous location
  5. wonderful customer service

If you are looking for a top notch Napa experience, Duckhorn fits the bill. It is really no wonder that people flock here for the wine. 

Okay, I'll stop. 

Too much Duckhorn while writing this has me quacking up over here. 

 

Ending the Week at Matanzas Creek

My brain has been fried from the workday grind. 

And you know what revives a fried brain? 

Sunshine. Wine. Cheese. Individually, these are amazing...so you can only imagine the levels of instant healing that I felt when, by happy chance, I found myself at Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa. 

You arrive at this winery and are instantly just enveloped in the smell of lavender. Relaxation even before wine hits your lips. Let's add another plus to this place for taking the work week edge off. 

just lavender all over the place around here and I don't mind it in the least.

just lavender all over the place around here and I don't mind it in the least.

The tasting room is surrounded by flowers galore and picnic areas. Family friendly is the word I would use here. I definitely was surrounded by lots of family time. You can enjoy time with kiddiewinks down in the picnic areas if that is to your liking. Or you can be like me and flee to the tasting room or patio reserved for the 21 and older crowd.

I planted myself on the patio for the cheese and wine tasting. This is a seated experience for $25 a person. It comes with 4 wine tastings with local cheeses and condiments to delight the palette.   

Sav Blanc, Chardonnay, and two Pinot Noirs for the drankin' here, and some of the most unique flavors to pair with...forgive me if my memory is a little off but off the top of my head, i remember the pairings as below: 

  • Cocoa rind hard cheese- rose and dried cherry compote - Pinot Noir
  • Soft cow cheese - Honey covered almonds - Chardonnay
  • Hard sheep cheese - fig and olive compote - Pinot Noir
  • Soft cow cheese- yuzu jelly - Sav Blanc

and I do apologize that my memory is a bit fuzzy. I was quite zen by time the tasting was finished. I did try to call and figure out what the exact pairings were, but had some trouble getting through (This place can get a bit busy :) But I will update the minute I connect and get more detailed answers.)

 BUT one last treat to finish here...a white chocolate and lavender truffle...Yes, the god of relaxation smiled upon me. 

The cheese and wine pairing is available only til 3:30pm each day so no last minute rush ins. Give them a visit. Enjoy this experience. Buy all the Sauvignon Blanc that you can.

 

Morning Bubbles at Domaine Carneros

I'm a morning person. I'm that person who is hitting the road to start my days of wine tasting at 10am. But my mouth generally is covered in coffee and needs a bit of a palette cleanse before I get deep in the tasting game. 

#1 palette cleanser? BUBBLY! (Well, maybe not number 1, but you know what I mean)

When you are driving into Napa Valley, Domaine Carneros is an easy and charming first stop to get your sparkling sip on. 

You can't miss this stunning chateau from the highway.

I always feel so country club chic when I come here. 

I always feel so country club chic when I come here. 

Personally, I always end up taking in the view on the terrace with the sparkling wine sampler. I love bubbles, but if you are unlike myself, they do have other options with tastes of their red wines. The pours are heavy and always come with little snacks to nibble on. There are even tastings with optional pairings. 

There is nothing that can bring a smile to a girls face like a sparkling rosé‬

There is nothing that can bring a smile to a girls face like a sparkling rosé‬

Brut Rosé & Blanc de Noir - best looking pair out here today

Brut Rosé & Blanc de Noir - best looking pair out here today

On a sunny weekend day, it can be full so if you are paranoid about a wait or not getting in for a tasting, I would recommend getting a reservation. I've never had to get one but for larger groups, do it. They also have indoor seating, but I've never personally gone that route...yet. Maybe this winter.

 

Ram's Gate- the Gateway to Carneros

I drive up to Sonoma pretty often, and I have often sped right by this winery since it is right off the highway upon passing the Sonoma Raceway. There have been a number of instances where I have nearly been rear-ended, because I was cursing myself for missing this tasting room and not having enough time to safely slow down enough to drift into the long driveway that leads ups to it's open doors.

Welcome to Ram's Gate!

Welcome to Ram's Gate!

This tasting room is nothing short of modern and elegant. There are tables and settings all over for the different types of tasting experiences offered here. Bar seating, tables, an outdoor patio, picnic space...this venue was truly stunning. Enough cheesy words. Here are some pictures I took from my visit.

The service here is top of the line, and I believe that it is well worth the price of the tastings.

I shared the Tasting Bar Flight with a friend and it cost $40 for the tasting. We also were given a taste of the Pinot Blanc that was open. The fee is waived with the purchase of two bottles and you better believe that I stocked up on that Pinot Blanc!

1 Pinot Blanc, 2 Chardonnays, 2 Pinot Noirs! Sip time!

1 Pinot Blanc, 2 Chardonnays, 2 Pinot Noirs! Sip time!

This room is just a short drive from San Francisco and definitely worth a stop! I recommending making a reservation because by 11am, it was filling up.

 

 

 

Having a ball at Robert Hall!

Yes, I am still puttering my way through Paso Robles. More specifically, puttering my way up Highway 46 to a vineyard tucked just to the side called Robert Hall.

I have written about Robert Hall in the past because I got my paws on some of their rosé and wrote about it here. But I wanted to take a short minute to give you a peek at the grounds and tasting room. 

Walking to the entrance of this winery is an eye full. A large modern fountain, gorgeous brick, and vines surrounding it all.  The tasting room has huge vaulted ceilings and a modern appeal as well. Multiple wines are available for tasting and the tasting fee is waived with purchase of a bottle.

Feast your eyes and keep in mind that my photography does this place no justice.

And my favorite little bit of this tasting room - aside from the wine- is the rose garden in the back. You can take a stroll and enjoy the pinks and yellows smiling at the surrounding grapes.

As you can see...I'm really just a sucker for roses and rosé. Robert Hall gives me both of these and it makes me quite the happy camper! 

Getting Naughty at Donati?

I've been getting down and dirty with Paso Robles wines lately especially with the heat. I love Paso whites, and I got a bit flirty with a chardonnay while visiting Donati Family Vineyard.  

Honestly, the word "naughty" is a bit of a stretch. The tasting room was just downright cute. As if it were decorated by someone who shops only on Etsy. Not that I'm complaining.

The white wines here are what I would recommend giving a try. 

Two bottles ended up leaving home with me: the 2015 rosé and the 2014 Sisters Forever UnOaked Chardonnay. 

This rosé is made from Cab Sav grapes which is a great big YES from me. It is lighter than other rosés that I've had made from these grapes. So finding a lighter cabernet rosé has been nothing short of peachy - that's a pun on the color of this wine.

But of all the wines that I insist you try at Donati, the Sisters Forever Chardonnay is the one that I consider a must. This chardonnay is all steel and all delicious. Tropical fruit without any dryness. As smooth as Alec Baldwin's voice. Oh yes, that smooth. And only $15 a bottle.

I have but two regrets when it comes to Donati:

  1. I didn't buy more wine to take home and share.
  2. I didn't get to taste or buy any of these gems below: 
so many occasions that these would be such a perfect gift. 

so many occasions that these would be such a perfect gift. 

 

 

 

Windward Vineyard - Purely Pinots in Paso

Wedding season has begun and has me traveling all over California to drink wine in honor of all my close friends taking the plunge. I found myself back in Paso Robles, and couldn't help but stop by Windward Vineyard since it was recommended to me by a close friend who is aware of my recent Pinot Noir obsession. 

Windward is Pinot. ONLY Pinot. No blends of Pinot Noir and Syrah. Just Pinot Noir. Or as they say at the vineyard: "Exclusively Pinot Noir". Exclusive sounds way better.

The tasting room is surrounded by vines on vines on vines. Vines planted back in 1989. Youthful Paso Robles vines....younger than me...which I hate to admit.

Oh hello little baby vines! So precious!

Oh hello little baby vines! So precious!

Something about this just screams PINOT NOIR here. 

Something about this just screams PINOT NOIR here. 

The Pinot Noir here is meant for aging. Age the crap out of it. This wine is made in the Burgundian style so to speak sooo the flavor emphasis is coming from where it is planted and the earth it is grown in. This Pinot is less fruity and way more earthy. 

This....is different for me. I tend to like my Pinots a bit softer. But I found a special place in my wine collection for a bottle of the 2012 Monopole Pinot Noir. EARTHY. SUCH EARTH. And complexity. Different. But I like it.

There is a tasting fee here, and I honestly do not remember what it is. But you do have to buy two bottles of wine for it to be waived. Or get chummy with some wine club members...or join the wine club yourself if you are so inclined.

And if you hate Pinot. Come for the the puppy cuddles. Try to say no to this face. You can't.

Copain- Paired to Perfection

Spring is in the air and we hopped over to Healdsburg for the Easter holiday. 

I was on a mission to find this winery after dinner at JoLe in Calistoga (which since has closed) where I was poured one of their Pinot Noirs with a duck entree. This glass of wine has been seared into my brain since...and I FINALLY got my fix.

Now before I over hype this wine. Here is the thing about Copain...this wine is for PAIRING. The wines are great alone, but they truly come to their own when with a friend...specifically a food friend. When you go in for a tasting, the winery does serve a small plate of bread, fruits and cheese with your wine pairing. Be sure to not just down the food to ease a wine induced buzz. Wait and save it for the appropriate wine. You won't regret it. I promise. Unless you are drunk already, the eat all the crackers you can because I don't want you to embarrass yourself.

If you get the chance to make an appointment to taste, do it this Spring or Summer so you can take in these green views provided by the El Nino rains. And be sure to do so with a glass of their DuPratt Chardonnay- which is a new favorite white. This white is still light and bright but has a subtle roundness that satisfies those of us who cling to the over buttered California Chardonnay. 

Now picture yourself enjoying a glass here....

Individual reviews of their wines will come...these are too great to smoosh in this post and cooking the meals that will bring them to light will be just as fun.

Fall-ing in Love with Pinot Noir

Now, I honestly can't remember the last time I went out of my way to drink Pinot Noir.

I don't have anything against this red wine, but I generally turn to Zinfandel or Cabernet when I get the hankering for the darker juice.

But this last Halloween weekend changed things up a little- I very much, a lot dislike Halloween. Not for any particular reason. I just have never been that into it. This dislike led to a weekend get away to Napa where I stumbled across a little place called Emeritus

Holy Patriarch of Pinot.

I found Pinot Noirs that danced around on my taste buds like a unicorn would on a rainbow.

Two of the current releases really struck my fancy and played a huge factor as to why I promptly joined the wine club.

1. The 2014 Ruby Ruby Saignee- shush your mouth with speak of this not being a "real" rose. It is pink wine. And it is damn good pink wine. Pink Pinot that is light but still maintains a full and wonderful mouthfeel. It smells of a little citrus and strawberries and makes you wish it were still summer.

2. The 2012 Emeritus Vineyards, William Wesley- le sigh. We bought two bottles. One for now and one for aging. This Pinot is strong yet delicate and dare I say a little floral somewhere in there? I ended up drinking this with a meat and cheese plate and found it came to life with an olive goat cheese. 

BUT I rarely join a wine club only for the wines, perhaps if I didn't live a skip away from all the vineyards this wouldn't matter as much as the quality of the wine...but I love grounds that provide a little getaway when I need to escape the city...and Emeritus was kissed with fall and I just couldn't say no.

The Tasting Room and Patio at Emeritus. Modern yet cozy. 

The Tasting Room and Patio at Emeritus. Modern yet cozy. 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival 2015

September 12, 2015

Let's be honest, I had been looking forward to this all week: chocolate and wine. Two of my favorite things,.

The theory of the whole event is great. 

"Come sip and savor premium samples from local wineries and gourmet dessert vendors in the heart of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival." - quote straight from the website...so those were my expectations. 

     Ready to drink the wines and eat the chocolates!

     Ready to drink the wines and eat the chocolates!

EVENT PROS: 

  • You could buy tickets online for a sweet discounted rate- $10 cheaper than buying at the event
  • Ghirardelli Square is adorable- aside from the tourists, the location is one of my favorite places to be in San Francisco
  • A few notable wineries made a show

Trapiche- I was a real sucker for these Malbecs- I had both their single vineyard and oak cask. BOTH were great.

Concannon- they brought along their signature wine- Petite Syrah. I LOVE Petite Syrah and the dark berry richness it brings.

Kelly Family Vineyards- 100% Merlot. Tasted like a mouthful of cherries to me and I liked it. 

EVENT CONS:

  • Poorly managed- there were hodge podge lines for everything so I just kinda cut in where ever- Sorry to the suckers that I cheated (not really)
  • Long lines- These messy lines were LONG. There was a limited amount of vendors that had truly yummy chocolate tastings- most were bits of chocolate smaller than a square from a Hershey's bar. The bits that were more had lines that easily were 20 minutes long or more. ehhh nah.
  • Wine- this is my biggest let down and it really isn't a fair "con" because nothing exclusively SAID there would be chocolate and wine pairings...but I feel like it was pretty safe to assume such a thing. The little sheet even said "CHOCOLATE AND WINE PAVILION" - C'MON.
  • No Space- this event was cramped. My adorable loafers with tassels got scuffed and tramped to no end. The wine pavilion was us just saying excuse me, pardon me, sorry, oh god..over and over. Enjoying the tastings wasn't the most enjoyable. 
  • Vendors- incredibly limited. Although, I did try a few wines were nice...most were a disappointment. It was the land of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay- which we all know I LOVE Chard...but not with my chocolate on a chilly day.

I probably won't be partaking in the event again. $50 wasn't worth the sips of wine and bits of chocolate paired with too many excited kiddies. (sugar high screams kill my mood)

 But it won't stop me from a week day Salted Caramel Sundae at GhirardelliSquare when the city is oh so quiet and I can enjoy without the bustle around me.


Labor Day Weekend Staycation

San Francisco is a dead zone during Labor Day weekend.

The hipsters have gone camping. The rich, odd, and dirty are all off at Burning Man.

 Cars aren't clogging the streets, and visiting friends in Oakland isn't a hassle because the Bay Bridge isn't backed up.

We spent the afternoon eating great food and sipping good drinks. A

And we closed the evening with a stunning Lake Merritt view...Oakland ain't bad at all.

notasommsunset

Happy Labor Day Everyone!

 

This is a Blog

and this is me with some wine. I won't say where because the face is pretty telling and I don't want to be mean.

I like wine...but just not this particular bit of it.

I like wine...but just not this particular bit of it.