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As the long days and warm afternoons continue through summer into early fall, a drive through the Sonoma Wine Country promises an easygoing pace amid the beautiful vineyards of Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. There couldn’t be a better time for leisurely wine tasting, and how better to cool down than with Sauvignon Blanc.
Many Healdsburg Wine Country winemakers produce Sauvignon Blanc — a green-grape varietal, known as Sancerre in its original home of France — so tasting room options abound. But to narrow down the list of which wineries to visit, why not look to the Harvest Fair award winners?
As you may know, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair hosts the largest regional wine competition in the United States. Now in its 43rd year, this annual event features local wineries that produce wines exclusively from grapes bearing a Sonoma County AVA. More than 100 Sonoma County wineries — and many hundreds of wines — are entered in the competition this year in hopes of taking home the gold.
The wines are judged by a panel of tasting experts from across the country, and winning is a big feather in the cap of those lucky, select local vintners. It’s also a good bet that previous-year winners will have current vintages you’ll want to get to know.
With the 2017 Harvest Fair only a few weeks away, there’s just enough time to reacquaint yourself to this varietal’s “green” flavors — sometimes herbal, citrus, or grassy. Always refreshing, the crisp, clean taste comes from its low level of sugar and high acidity. Recently, Wine Spectator writer, Matt Kramer, called Sauvignon Blanc “the world’s most reliably good dry white wine.”
Here are some winery suggestions for tasting Sauvignon Blanc. Each is a recent Sonoma County Harvest Fair award winner. Sauv Blanc pairs well with light food, and it has an affordable price point, making it perfect for lunch. So why not pack a picnic, visit all three tasting rooms, and make a day of it! I suggest you start with J. Rickards at the north end, and then wind your way south to your comfortable vacation rental in Healdsburg.
3 Award-Winning Wineries for Sauvignon Blanc
Rickards Winery (2016)
24505 Chianti Road, Cloverdale
Tasting Room Open: Monday – Saturday, 11:00 – 4:00
The first vines of this family-run winery, owned and operated by Jim and Eliza Rickards, were planted 40 years ago. Since 2011, Blaine Brazil has been their chief winemaker. Located at the northern end of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, you might want to make this your first tasting stop.
Trione Vineyards (2015)
19550 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville
Tasting Room Open: Thursday – Monday, 10:00 – 5:00
Trione Winery, another family business, was established in 2005. They craft small lots of wine from estate-grown grapes and handle all aspects of winemaking, from harvest to barrel. Their head winemaker is Scot Covington. If you start your wine tasting at the north end, then Trione’s Geyserville tasting room would be a good next stop on your way south.
Selby Winery (2014)
215 Center Street, Healdsburg
Tasting Room Open: Daily 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Since 1992, winemaker/owner Susie Selby has been perfecting the art of winemaking. Selby makes handcrafted, small-batch wines from grapes grown on sustainably farmed vineyards in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys. You’ll find the tasting room in the center of downtown Healdsburg.
By the way, if you can, plan on joining the fun at the 2017 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The hub of the fair is the Tasting Pavilion, where there’s wine — and beer, cider, and food pairings — to sample. Wine lovers will want to design a weekend around this opportunity to taste the best of the Sonoma Wine Country. And if you haven’t nabbed your vacation home rental for this year, it’s not too soon to look to 2018 — keep your ears open for the announcement of next year’s dates.
2017 Sonoma County Harvest Fair
Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
Friday, October 6 — Sunday, October 8
For more info: www.harvestfair.org