Nestled on a hillside, surrounded by beautiful landscaping and dozens of butterflies, lies Rochioli Vineyards and Winery. Amazing views, comfortable indoor and outdoor tasting spaces, wonderful wines – what more could you want on a warm, sunny day?
It was a warm and comfy day, and we were in an excellent mood. We had a full day of wine tasting planned, compliments of Cliff and Katie. Cliff has been part of our extended family for decades, and his marriage to Katie this summer added another wonderful personality to our group! Cliff and Katie write the popular Hella Wine and Mo blog, so we had been dreaming about a day wine tasting together for quite a while. Well, today was the day!
We met Cliff and Katie in the Rochioli parking lot. It seems that everyone was excited, because both couples were uncharacteristically early. After greetings and posing some pictures, we waited impatiently for the tasting room to open. As we paced, we noticed that the lush landscaping was drawing the attention of butterflies. Lots and lots of butterflies!
The clock finally struck 11:00 and we rushed the tasting room door. Well, we rushed in a leisurely manner. There’s no reason to be unruly about these things! We walked past some nice covered picnic tables on a stone patio with amazing views of the vineyards down the hill. After a bit of discussion regarding ideal tasting locations, we made our way into the tasting room.
|Strategic bar positioning|
One good side effect of our early arrival: we had our choice of spots at the tasting bar. We strategically positioned ourselves so that we could see each other and we also had a commanding view of the vineyards as we sipped our wine. You already know this, but this was not our first trip to a winery!
We learned that the Rochioli family has been growing grapes and other vegetables in Sonoma County since the 1930’s. The transition from jug wine to fine wine began in 1968, when Joe Rochioli Jr. planted Pinot Noir grapes. Their fame grew, including being named ‘Best Pinot Noir in America’ by Wine Spectator in 1987.
Our first taste was their 2013 Estate Chardonnay. Between the French oak barreling (30% neutral) and full malolactic fermentation, this was quite buttery. We enjoyed the bright fruit and vanilla notes. We were off to a good start!
We next tasted their 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir. A new style rosé, with a mere .25% residual sugar, we really liked the notes of roses, strawberry and lavender. We then tasted their 2013 Estate Valdiguié. The exotic Valdiguié grape is French and sometimes erroneously called ‘Napa Gamay’ in these parts. We called it DELICIOUS! Nice pepper notes, with every red fruit we could think of (cranberry, cherry, newly-ripe plum, etc.) and a long, lovely finish. This was awarded “best taste” by our group.
Our final taste was their 2013 Estate Pinot Noir. This wine is young, only one year in the bottle. That said, we appreciated the hints of leather, cherry and toasted oak. In 3-5 years this will be an amazing wine!
With a full agenda in front of us, we made our purchases and said goodbye. Off we went, chasing our next adventure!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?