Vinography Images: Mind the Gap

Weather rolls across the valley floor of the Petaluma Gap AVA, as seen from Keller Estate in Sonoma County. Defined largely by the effects of coastal wind influence, the Petaluma Gap AVA was established in 2017 and includes a slice of southernmost Sonoma County and northern Marin County, stretching from the Pacific Coast inland to the Carneros AVA.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as.” Then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full-size view and drag that to their desktop.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

PRINTS:
Fine art prints of this image and others are available on George Rose’s website.

EDITORIAL USE:
To purchase copies of George’s photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images.

Zinfandel vines hunkered down for the winter are seen through a cold morning mist in Alexander Valley. Sonoma County plays host to some exceptionally old vineyards of Zinfandel, some of which are found in Alexander Valley. These days, they are a rarity, as more and more acreage gets converted to the more lucrative Cabernet Sauvignon.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as.” Then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full-size view and drag that to their desktop.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

PRINTS:
Fine art prints of this image and others are available on George Rose’s website.

EDITORIAL USE:
To purchase copies of George’s photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any website or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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2022 Petaluma Gap Wind to Wine Festival: August 13, Petaluma

When it comes to the relationship between place and the wine in your glass, there’s an awful lot of talk about geology and soils, about sun exposure, and overall temperature ranges. But one thing that sometimes gets left out of the conversation is wind.

One of California’s newer growing areas was defined in part by wind, and the wineries that populate the Petaluma Gap AVA, want to show you what that tastes like on August 13th, when the region hosts the Wind to Wine Festival.

Spanning parts of Marin County and southern Sonoma County the Petaluma Gap AVA stretches fro the northwestern part of the San Pablo Bay out to the coast. Its boundaries are shaped in part by the cold winds and fog that flow in through a gap in the coastal mountains.

The Petaluma Gap AVA, outlined in white. Map courtesy of the TTB AVA Explorer.

The Petaluma Gap is home to a few wineries (most notably the venerable Keller Estate, photographed above by George Rose) but many Sonoma County and a few Marin County wineries source their fruit from this area of rolling hills. The region is known particularly for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but Syrah is playing an increasingly important role as well.

On Saturday, August 13th, at the historic Gambonini Family Ranch just outside of the town of Petaluma, the Petaluma Gap AVA association will be putting on a tasting of more than 70 different wines grown in the region by more than 20 different producers. There will be live music, food, and “storytelling,” which as far as I can tell is an opportunity to get to know some of the producers a little better in an intimate setting.

In all, it sounds like a fairly idyllic way to spend a Saturday afternoon in August.

2022 Wind to Wine Festival
Saturday, August 13th
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Gambonini Family Ranch
7325 Old Lakeville Road #3
Petaluma, CA 94954 (map)

Tickets run $65 for basic entry, and if you pay $95 for a VIP ticket, you can get in an hour early. You can purchase tickets in advance online, though some may be available at the event. Check the weather before the event, as it might be pretty hot. Dress accordingly, stay hydrated, put some food in your belly, and spit your wine so you can explore everything the tasting has to offer.

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Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/10/21

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This past week included a couple of interesting Chardonnays. The first is the Oro de Plata Chardonnay from Keller Estate, which is prevented from going through malolactic conversion, and is aged in old oak barrels, but nonetheless has a nice creaminess along with its brisk citrus brightness. The other is one of the better canned wines I’ve come across, a limited edition Chardonnay from Iron Horse Vineyards, which revives the estate’s old Tin Pony brand name. Unfortunately this particular offering is sold out, but you can bet there will be more canned wines from Iron Horse in the future, so consider this fair warning to keep your eye out.

Moving on to Pinot, I’ve got a couple of them from Yamhill Valley Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Of the two, my favorite was the “Tall Poppy” bottling, which possessed a lovely finesse and very pretty forest floor quality. Both Keller Estate and Flowers Vineyards also had Pinots in this week’s tasting, each distinctive and pretty, both highlighting the cherry and cranberry qualities that Sonoma Pinot Noir can deliver.

Keller has also been making a Syrah co-fermented with a couple rows of Viognier for a few years under the name “Rotie,” and their 2017 vintage showed some lovely stony blackberry and black cherry qualities and the promise of improvement with age.

Sticking with Syrah for a moment, I felt obliged to point readers towards the Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône, if only because it is a remarkable steal at $12 a bottle. It’s not going to blow any minds, but at that price, it’s a great deal.

Lastly, I’ve got two wines from the biodynamically-farmed boutique winery Troon Vineyards in Oregon’s Applegate Valley. The newly released Cuvee Pyrénées, a blend of Tannat and Malbec, is almost shockingly savory, reminding me of the deeply earthy and herbal qualities of Cahors. The 2018 Tannat is slightly more generous in its fruit, and wonderfully mineral-driven, suggesting a long life ahead of it.

Notes on all these and more below.

Tasting Notes

2019 Keller Estate “Oro de Plata” Chardonnay, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish-gold in color, this wine smells of lemon pith and pink grapefruit. In the mouth, bright lemony and grapefruit flavors mix with a touch of cream and a faint grassiness. Nicely silky, despite the fact that malolactic was avoided in this wine. Good acidity and length. Fermented in stainless and aged in neutral oak. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.    

2019 Iron Horse “Tin Pony” Chardonnay, Green Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells a little of struck-match (which blows off over time) and butterscotch and grapefruit. In the mouth, lemon juice, pink grapefruit, butterscotch, and a touch of toasted brioche combine with a hint of salinity and excellent acidity. 13.8% alcohol. Packaged in 250ml cans and sold in sets of four. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $48 per four pack – sold out.

2016 Yamhill Valley Vineyards “Tall Poppy” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of forest floor and raspberries. In the mouth, beautifully silky flavors of raspberry and redcurrant have a wonderful lift and brightness thanks to excellent acidity. The faintest wisp of tannins lingers in the finish along with notes of dried herbs and pine duff. 14.2% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2016 Yamhill Valley Vineyards “Estate Reserve” Pinot Noir, McMinnville, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of earth and raspberries shot through with a touch of green herbs. In the mouth, raspberry and cranberry fruit flavors mix with green herbs and a hint of peeled willow bark. A touch of toasty oak lingers in the finish with a hint of astringency. Good acidity. 14.2% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/10/21

2018 Keller Estate “El Coro” Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, cherry and cranberry fruit have a nice lift thanks to excellent acidity and a faint herbal backdrop as barely perceptible tannins dust the edges of the mouth. A touch of citrus peel lingers in the finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $67. click to buy.

2018 Flowers Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, silky notes of cherry and raspberry are shot through with cedar and citrus peel. Faint notes of oak linger in the finish along with the faintest of tannins. Excellent acidity. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2018 Troon Vineyard “Cuvée Pyrénées – White Family Selection” Red Blend, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of freshly turned potting soil, molasses, leather and a touch of blackberries. In the mouth, leathery tannins wrap around a decidedly savory core of dark black fruits that are less present than the herbal, earthy notes of camphor wood, sage, and freshly dug earth. Good acidity. Tasted blind I could imagine confidently pegging this as a wine from the Cahors region of France. 14.3% alcohol. A blend of 70% Tannat and 30% Malbec. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.

2018 Troon Vineyard “White Family Selection” Tannat, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon, Oregon
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry and black cherry. In the mouth, dark and juicy flavors of blackberry and boysenberry mix with a wet chalkboard or wet pavement minerality that is quite stark. Gorgeous acidity makes the wine quite refreshing, and fine-grained tannins flex in the background. Everything suggests this wine will age beautifully. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2017 Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône Villages, Rhône Valley, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of a bit of struck match layered over cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, slightly leathery tannins surround flavors of black cherry and cassis with a touch of meaty, black olive savoriness. Notes of dusty earth linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $12. click to buy.

2017 Keller Estate “Rotie” Syrah, Sonoma County, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry pie. In the mouth, blackberry and black cherry flavors have a nice briskness to them thanks to excellent acidity. The fine-grained tannins are muscular and supple, if a bit tight. There’s a lift to the dark fruit that presumably comes from the co-fermented Viognier, but this is nevertheless a slightly brooding wine. It will likely improve in the bottle for several years. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

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