MUCH NEEDED PSA PART TWO: WINE COUNTRY DID NOT BURN TO THE GROUND (Sonoma Edition)
I’ve been working out a lot lately *holds for applause* so I think I’m pretty strong. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen folks quite as strong as those in Sonoma County.
You saw the news, you read my Part 1 of this series, you know what a beating Sonoma County, especially the beautiful town of Santa Rosa, took during the North Bay fires. Unfortunately, the constant telling of these fire horror stories has not been helpful for this area that heavily depends on tourism. Sure, donating is SUPER important and highly encouraged (did I mention the GoFundMe I started raised $2,500?!), but the absolute best way to give back to Sonoma County is to VISIT! *yells from mountain tops*
Countless businesses and homes were lost in these fires, but in order to rebuild in a timely manner, the local economy needs to be stimulated. And that, my friends, is my cue to tell you how to do just that. “Economy Simulator” is basically my middle name. It’s Greek.
Much like Napa, there are so many beautiful places you can visit in Sonoma County that offer fun wine tasting experiences and exquisite wines. Unfortunately, I am but a single human girl with only so much time to visit, so I couldn’t get to them all. Don’t worry though, I will eventually. Here’s a few I did get to:
Ledson. Is. Amazing. I cannot say it enough.
When you’re driving up the long driveway to Ledson, you immediately feel like you’re far more sophisticated than you actually are. Their property, more specifically the GIANT castle on their estate, is breathtaking. I snapped a few pictures that didn’t do it justice (I was too excited!) so here’s one from their website:
Yeah, gorgeous. I know. When you enter the castle (!!!) you’re immediately greeted by friendly, enthusiastic staff, many of whom have been working there for over ten years. You can explore their many award winning wines, which are proudly displayed on the walls, and look over dozens of great family photos that date back to the 1930’s.
INTERRUPTING MYSELF FOR A SECOND- I will openly admit that I have a deep love for family owned and operated wineries. No offense to you corporate lot, but to me personally, I always find that family owned wineries are so deeply authentic and unique. They’re usually very proud of their history and their wine, which makes me excited to learn about both. Consider visiting as many family owned wineries as possible- your business means a lot to them!
Okay, we’re back. Ledson is a still owned by the Ledson family and has a very, very tight-knit feel to it. I toured the grounds with Jerry, who handles sales at Ledson, and he was delightful. In fact, all the staff was. I cannot say enough great things about the people who work there. Great people make wine drinking even better and nice people are just, dope. (Profound, I know.)
“You are more beautiful than Cinderella! You smell like pine needles, and have a face like sunshine!” – quote from Bridesmaids, but also me to the Ledson staff
A few notes on the wine- I personally preferred the whites, but that’s not because their reds were bad. It’s because their whites were SO good. They have two Sauvignon Blancs on their current tasting menu and I personally liked the Russian River Sauvignon Blanc the most. You get a good taste of tropical fruit in this and it’s not overly acidic or lemon tasting. Even though it was raining outside, it felt like summer in the tasting room.
Overall, I would 150% visit Ledson Winery again and I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the area! Oh, did I mention they have hotels, a market and a restaurant too? Check all that good stuff out, here.
Matanzas Creek Winery has a fun vibe to it. Way up the hills in Santa Rosa, Matanzas has great outdoor seating and a huge outdoor deck that gives you great views (aka places for you and your friends to take lots of pictures). It also has games like bocce ball and cornhole, which are always fun for the whole family. Because it was raining, I didn’t get to explore the grounds as much as I wanted to, but I will return in the summer and bring some friends along for a picnic!
Matanzas has some really nice wines, but again, I was captivated by the Sauvignon Blancs they offered. What is with me lately, you guys?!
We eventually ended up doing a wine and cheese tasting in one of their many beautiful meeting rooms, which had large windows and the faint smell of lavender. Actually, lavender was pretty much everywhere because Matanzas is a producer of lavender as well! So, they do wine and lavender….I can’t even talk and text at the same time.
Anyway, if you’re coming to taste at Matanzas, I HIGHLY suggest the wine and cheese tasting. The cheeses (including some from my favorite company, Cowgirl Creamery) were delicious and paired perfectly with the variety of wines. I ended up LOVING a Malbec, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon blend, which wasn’t surprising because who doesn’t love a good Bordeaux-style blend? It was smooth and delicious and actually paired nicely with almost every cheese on the plate. It’s a winery exclusive, so be sure to ask for it when you visit!
The tasting ended with a white chocolate lavender truffle, and any winery that says “here’s chocolate, too” is fine by me, ya heard?
Also, a shoutout to the Matanzas staff for being so awesome and shipping me a notebook that I left behind because I’m clearly very organized… What’s in the water over there in Sonoma? Why are you all so nice and how do we spread that to, hmmm, I don’t know, THE WHOLE WORLD.
I’ll be honest, I wished I had spent more time at Martin Ray, because it really was beautiful. Unfortunately, I was in Sonoma for an event, so my time at this winery was limited. But don’t you worry, because I’m a *~researcher~*, I took notes throughout the night. Mental notes, ya know, because of the whole “left my notebook at Matanzas” thing.
Martin Ray has some amazing Pinots. I’ll say it. We tried three while I was there and all three were amazing in their own entirely different way. The winemaker, Lindsey Haughton, was onsite that night and was very friendly with the tons of wine industry folks that descended onto the property that night. I always love meeting a lady winemaker and it’s even better when her wines are delicious, which they were.
Because I have no shame, I will drink Rosé no matter the season/occasion, and Martin Ray fully supported my vision by supplying a delicious Rosé of Pinot Noir. Did I come back for several more tastings of that? Yes. Am I ashamed? Not a single bit.
I’m hoping to return to Martin Ray soon to try one of their picnic lunches and, obviously, pair it with that rosé. So go ahead and beat me to the punch and visit Martin Ray!
So, now what?
That concludes my quick rundown on things to do in wine country, and again, if you haven’t read part one, do so here.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE think about taking a visit to Napa and Sonoma counties this winter, y’all. Check out some of these places and be sure to tell them I sent you (no seriously, tell them that!) and enjoy the beauty that is wine country, because IT’S STILL STANDING.
Happy pour decision making!