Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sonoma County's Wineries ~ Ferrari-Carano


After leaving San Francisco and a side trip to Muir Woods, we visited the heartland of California's Wine Country in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys for four days. California is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world, behind France, Italy, and Spain. 90% of all the wine produced in the United States comes from here. Including Mendocino County and Lake County, the Wine Country occupies over 7,000 square miles and is home to hundreds of wineries that are open to the public for tours and tastings. There are many lodging accommodations, fine restaurants, one of a kind shops and beautiful scenery that would charm even a non wine enthusiast.


We drove through Sonoma North and South, but basically concentrated on the Dry Creek area of Sonoma in the north. Just look at this street sign at one of the intersections -- so many wineries, so little time!  Although we would have loved to visit them all, we chose a few that were recommended to us by friends who had visited them before us. It's my pleasure to now highlight a few of them for you!


One of our first stops was Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, located at 8761 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg.  Owned since 1985 by Don and Rhonda Carano, they strive for wines with a consistent taste of style and elegance. Ferrari-Carano consists of 19 estate vineyards in four appellations, totaling over 1400 acres.


Their hospitality center called Villa Fiore is set in the midst of their 70-acre Dry Creek Valley estate vineyard.


This beautiful estate could be a travel destination just to see their immaculately kept five acres of exquisite gardens.


A 1,000 pound wild boar sculpture named "Boardeaux" greets you as you walk up the entrance. It is based on a sculpture that stands in an open market in Florence, Italy, and rubbing its nose is supposed to bring good luck.  I hope it also means we will be fortunate enough to make a return visit to both places one day!


There was still some morning mist rising up from the vineyards in the distance.


The gardens are truly spectacular! Much of the flora changes with the seasons.  You can see more photos on the Ferrari-Carano website.


The vineyards were also immaculate. They are directed by Don Carano and orchestrated under the supervision of Steve Domenichelli, Director of Vineyard Operations.

(To enlarge all photos, click on them once, and then again when they open on a new page)

You will have to enlarge this photo to read this informational board that was on display on the estate explaining all the interesting sustainable farming techniques used by Farrari- Carano.
 
We were cheered on our trip to learn that many Sonoma and Napa Wineries are striving to use sustainable farming, to be environmentally friendly, and, in some cases, to be totally organic.


Shall we take a little stroll together through one of the vineyard lanes?


The entire wine country had experienced a cooler than usual summer in this '10 year so the harvest was expected to be delayed as the vintners hoped for a few more hot days to help the grapes develop sweetness. Time will tell if this delay will mean good or bad vintage for 2010.


The profusion of grape clusters that were literally dripping from the vines was amazing sight to see! Quite a bit of careful pruning and trellising of the vines is practiced in most of the vineyards we visited.


"Wine is sunlight, held together by water." ~ Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)


We took a very interesting tour in one of Ferrari-Carano's wine making facilities where we were shown the process of making wine, as you can see in the photo collage above.  The whole cluster fruit press is utilized to gently provide intense flavorful berry extraction, and the stainless steel juice-settling tanks allow grape solids to settle naturally without the roughness of centrifuge, which can remove flavorful grape solids.  We also toured one of the five barrel cellars, including a magnificent French styled underground cellar used for the fermentation and aging of the Chardonnays. It was explained to us that the imported Austrian cobblestone floor is gently moistened daily to maintain coolness and humidity in the cellar.


Visitors may taste Ferrari-Carano's Classic Wines and Villa Fiore wines (sold only at the winery) at the tasting bar.  Pinot Grigio, Fume Blanc, Sonoma County Chardonnay, Siena, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are available. Visitors can also elect to taste some of the limited release and reserve wines in the Enoteca Lounge.  There is also a gift shop where you can purchase bottles of wine and also an assortment of gift items such as tableware, linens, wine accessories, and logo clothing.

The Ferrari-Carano wines were truly multidimensionally flavorful, and visiting their magnificent winery was very memorable. We were very happy we chose to visit them!


In my next post I'll bring you to the new Sonoma Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and his on site restaurant called Rustic. They are spectacular places to visit!

I'm linking this post to Susan's "Outdoor Wednesday" event on her blog A Southern Daydreamer. I hope you will visit Susan to see her outdoor adventure and to see the links of all the blogs participating today!



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39 comments:

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Absolutely beautiful, Pat. I have always dreamed of touring this area of the country and have not given up on this one. Your pictures of the grapes are just stunning!
♥, Susan

Ciao Chow Linda said...

What a fantastic vineyard you visited. That's one I've never been to, but would certainly love to visit. You were there at the perfect time with the mature grapes cascading down the vines. Just gorgeous photographs you took, Pat.

Crystal Mary said...

My husband will love these photos, he also makes his own wine...
Buono fortuna...Blessings CML

pam said...

Gorgeous. I'm always so amazed at how many Wineries there are...how can they all survive?

Joyce said...

That is a really pretty one to visit and I remember taking photos of us with that statue. Such great memories for me and I can close my eyes and smell the grapes on the vine now waiting to be harvested.
Joyce

Sheila said...

Pat, once again I'm enjoying armchair travel thanks to you. I found this post really interesting, having lived for 9 years in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Our little town of Oliver was surrounded by vineyards and orchards. It was a lovely place to live and I would love to visit California's vineyards and wineries one day.

Ms.Daisy said...

Wow. Bella! Bella! This vinyard is absolutely beautiful! Thanks for the tour as I probably will never get there to see it.
We are being told here in New Jersey that this especially hot summer has produced some of the sweetest grapes they've ever seen and in a year and a half we should expect to be able to taste it too!

~Jean

Ginny said...

There's always something to learn here and beautiful things for the eye!!! I cannot believe that sign with pointers to all the wineries!! And the gardens are fantastic!!! I would love to walk through them, reminiscent of English gardens. Now did you kiss Boardeaux? When I first saw that picture, I wondered what a big statue of a pig would be doing in a vineyard instead of a truffle factory! Your explanation made me laugh!! Can't wait to see more!!

Vee said...

Amazing pics... What a beautiful garden for sure... Does that name mean Flower House? Sounds as if you found a few wines to enjoy. Hope that you took some home with you to get you through until you visit again.

Cheryl D. said...

That region has great food too! You cannot get a bad meal anywhere!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow--what a gorgeous place, and so clean and beautiful... Love the gardens also. I've heard about the Sonoma wineries forever ---and have never gotten to that area. Glad you got some samples... Bet you went home with some also!!!!!

Gorgeous pictures ---and I hope you rubbed the nose of Boardeaux.
Hugs,
Betsy

Kathleen said...

I do not drink at all, but those pics are just beautiful! I am surrounded by wineries out here, and never go!

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

I am sooo jealous! We were there 6 years ago and I fell in love. I would move there in a second if I had the money. Healdsburg was our favorite town. I am really looking forward to your next post. I have heard about Rustic and would love to go there!
Hugs,
Penny

Debbie said...

How wonderful to tour such vineyard...the wine I bet was outstanding too. Great photography, you captured every little detail.

Dishesdone said...

What a fantastic place! and a terrific tour you gave! I can only imagine how amazing it is in person!

Gracie said...

My God! It seems one of those Hollywood mansions, not a winery! Stunning photos as always, and I can't wait to see more.

Vintagesouthernlife said...

Great shots. Thanks for the tour. I have never been. The garden is beautiful. Annette

Sciarada said...

Buongiorno Pat, nice to meet you;
this a wonderful experience at Ferrari-Carano Wineries, with a great documentation and great pictures

P.S. thanks for visiting and welcome comment

RNSANE said...

I love the Dry Creek area and some of my favorite vineyards are here. In Napa, I love Grigich Hills and, to this day, you can still see Miljenko Grigich ( I think this Coatian winemaker is 80 now ) at the winery quite often, wearing his beret and chatting with the pretty girls! ), Raymond, Sterling, Clos Pegase, Rombauer, and several others. The Russian River area is wonderful, too.

Maria M. Boyer said...

What fun! And what beautiful photos, Pat. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was Italy. :)

KarenHarveyCox said...

What a magnificent post Pat. I cannot even imagine living there and seeing those views and accomplishing anything except daydreaming the days away. The photographs are stunning. Years ago we visited friends who had a summer home there. Such a beautiful part of the country.
Karen

My name is PJ. said...

Stu and I went to so many wineries out there! We even went on a hot air balloon ride that ended in one winery with champagne, followed by breakfast. You are bringing back some lovely memories with your fabulous photos, Pat!!

diane said...

We used to belong to a wine group and we travelled to many wineries throughout Australia and now I have visited a Californian winery thanks to you. You are a long way from home.

Elettra said...

Hello Pat will be a pleasure if you want to know through our blogs, the winery of your photos is extraordinary

Linda said...

It looks like you had a nice time up in Northern California. We go up every year to visit family who live quite close and going wine tasting is a favorite of my husbands.

PEA said...

It all looks so beautiful and exquisitely maintained! Having just gone on my first winery tour a few weekends ago with my son Corey, I enjoyed it so much, I want to go on a few more:-) That's why I love going to Niagara on the Lake, it's wine country over there and there are many, many wineries you can visit and take tours. Your pictures were all delightful as usual. xoxo

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've always wanted to visit the California wine country, but these pictures tell me I need to do a more serious job of getting a trip booked. I would never want to go home it's so gorgeous there.

Thanks Pat for taking us along.
Sam

Old Kitty said...

Oh the gardens are amazing!! How lovely! It's like a different world and the whole feel is just very very southern european! The garden pics on their website are just lovely. And you're so right - it's great that they have adopted an environmentally sustainable way of organic farming - they also use buffalo to keep the grass down! LOL!Awww!. And now the wine!! Lovely lovely wine! Look at those bunches of grapes! I hope this year will be a good one - it's a shame - all that effort!

Amazing. I look forward to your next stop! Take care
x

steviewren said...

If the wine tasted half as good as the scenery was beautiful, then it must have been a fabulous day.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Beautiful! I think you picked the perfect time of year to visit Napa & Sonoma. Keep the posts coming...I'm enjoying the tour of California!

Trotter said...

Four days drinking (and eating...); that definitely ruins my much needed diet... ;))

Oliag said...

One dream I have always had is that of doing a bicycle tour through Napa Valley...I'm sure that I am no longer in shape for such a thing but it always sounded divine...Wonderful tour you have taken us on Pat!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

I love your post. I visit this area every couple of months and absolutely adore it. Thank you for showing California Wine Country so beautifully.

Jeanne said...

Hi Pat, this is a beautiful post. Your photos are so awesome. Good job. The estate and the gardens are unusually gorgeous. The grape vines and grapes are so beautiful and vivid in their perfect symmetry. I know you loved this part of your trip to CA.

Hugs, Jeanne

Tracy said...

GLORIOUS...absolutely glorious, Pat!..*swoon*... These photos are amazing... I could pluck a grape from the screen! And I would love a glass of fine vino about now... ;o) This was a great trip...thank you! Happy Days ((HUGS))

Pondside said...

We had a very small taste (no pun intended!) of California wine country when we visited the San Luis Obispo area. I've wished to make a real wine tour ever since - even more so after reading this!

Claudia said...

Affter some long, hard days - I felt like I was on vacation coming to your blog. Filled with light (and I have always loved the Galileo quote). I am amazed affter the hot summer the US experienced that the northwest remained cool for much of it. I shall now sip some CA wine...

M.Kate said...

Hello Pat, as usual...a fantastic set of photos. I have not been to a vineyard yet. We dont have them here..maybe later when I visit Australia.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I think we should all have a glass of wine while we view these photos! AMAZING! ♥ My husband will have to look at your photos! He would LOVE to visit this area! ♥