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The Cellar: Spotlight - Sonoma’

Friday, March 10, 2017


Winemaking in Sonoma County goes back to the mid 1850s and besides from the ‘dark ages’ of Prohibition the bond between Sonoma and viticulture has been unbroken. Sonoma County is divided into three major AVAs (American Viticulture Areas); Sonoma Coast, Northern Sonoma and Sonoma Valley which is relatively warm, apart from the southernmost Carneros which is cooled by the influences of the San Pablo Bay. Within these major AVAs there are dozens of smaller AVAs each with their own microclimate. What all of the regions have in common are near ideal grape growing conditions which allows farmers to from everything from Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. 

Viansa Sonoma is one of the region's premier wineries specializing in making wines exclusively from Sonoma County sourced fruit. The picturesque Estate is located at the summit of Sonoma Valley approximately 35 miles north/northeast of San Francisco. While the family behind the label can trace its viticultural roots back to the late 19th century, the Viansa winery itself has only been in business for a little over 25 years. The folks at Viansa make dozens of different bottlings from Estate fruit, as well as from grapes soured from growers with which Viansa have contracts. I recently had an opportunity to sample some of their wines, among them their 2015 Gewürztraminer and 2013 Heritage Red Blend. 

For those of you not familiar with Gewürztraminer I strongly urge you to try one. Don’t let the obscure name intimidate you. Simply walk down to your wine merchant and say: "Hey, have any Gevurz!?" It's that easy. Gewürztraminer is one of those distinct varietals; usually heavy on the tropical fruits and florals (sometimes boarding soapy) – on the nose as well as on the palate. Gewürztraminer comes both in dry, off-dry and dessert style sweet examples. 

Viansa's 2015 Gewürztraminer is dry and (for a warm climate) pretty restrained. I like this wine a lot. Medium bodied with the signature tropical fruits and flowers. But most importantly this wine has the thing I have always thought was very important with Gewürztraminer and that is refreshing, palate-cleansing acidity. Good stuff!

The 2013 Heritage Red Blend is an interesting blend of 66% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon with splashes of Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  This is a big wine with an alluring mix of ripe red and dark fruits with savory notes of sweet tobacco, cedar and mocha. 


Steffen Rasch is the Sommelier at Persimmon Restaurant in Providence and the proprietor of the Providence Wine Academy.


Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s Best Wineries

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Tours and tastings occur Sunday – Friday at 1 and 3 p.m. and hourly on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. $12 per person for 5 samples; $15 per person for 5 samples plus signature glass. 909 East Main Rd. 848-5161,www.newportvineyards.com

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Located along the beautiful Sakonnet River, Greenvale Vineyards has been in the family since 1863 and is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Cortlandt Parker, the farm’s fourth generation, and his wife Nancy started to grow grapes here as a hobby in the 1960’s.  In the early 80’s, the Parkers decided to embark on the development of a commercial vineyard. The focus is on conservation of open space, preservation of historic buildings and the education of its visitors. Tastings occur daily and cost $12 for 7 varietals; tours are daily at 2 p.m. and are *$15 per person for the tour and tasting. 582 Wapping Rd. 847-3777, http://www.greenvale.com

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Tastings run daily from July 4 through Labor Day and are $7 per person for 5 wines. 308 Shore Rd. 322-7791, http://www.langworthyfarm.com

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Tours and tastings occur daily between noon and 3 and are $10. There is also a café and outdoor seating. 162 West Main Rd. 635-8486, http://www.sakonnetwine.com


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