Love the wine you are with! I visited the Carneros wine region with my friends, Elaine and Michelle, in February 2020. Many wineries in California recently reopened with outdoor tastings and social distancing requirements. I felt it is finally time to share my wine tasting adventures with you! We started at Truchard, continued at Hyde and finished at Domaine Carneros.
OVERVIEW OF CARNEROS
Located 60 minutes from San Francisco, Carneros lies on the crossroads of two major wine regions, Napa and Sonoma. Carneros became an official American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in 1983. The terroir and grapes derive their unique characteristics from the region’s climate and geographic location (the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Mountain Ranges and the San Francisco Bay). Carneros is known for producing quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
We started our wine tasting adventures at Truchard Vineyards. Proprietors, Tony and Jo Ann Truchard, run this small, family-owned winery. The couple started growing grapes over 45 years ago. In 1989, the Truchards established a winery and began producing wines using only their estate-grown fruit.
Suzanne Truchard kicked off our tasting tour in the vineyard. She shared the history of the Truchard family and the vineyard with us, while we sipped on the 2017 “Old Block” Pinot Noir. This wine is made from grapes, which are grown on some of the oldest vines in Carneros. Trust me, this wine was delicious and I brought a bottle back with me.
The tour continued in the cave, where we enjoyed a cheese plate and tasted the Roussanne, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Roussanne (2017) is a crisp wine with flavors of fresh pear, honeydew melon and apricot. I snagged myself a bottle of this wine too!
- Cabernet Franc (2017) is a medium bodied red wine with notes of plum, berry, and spice
- Cabernet Sauvignon (2017) is a heavy red wine with flavors of ripe cherries, red currants and berry jam
Tastings cost $40/person and require reservations. Thanks Suzanne for the wonderful wine tasting experience.
After our tasting, we stopped by Basalt for a scrumptious lunch. The restaurant serves local seasonal cuisine, drawing influences from around California.
I ordered the Eggs Benedict. The poached eggs were decadent with the creamy hollandaise sauce.
HYDE ESTATE WINERY
After our leisurely lunch, we visited Hyde Estate Winery. Larry Hyde founded this family owned vineyard in the heart of Carneros Napa Valley in 1979. We collaborated with Hyde on our 2018 Friendsgiving. I was very excited to visit the winery and vineyard, which consists of 192 acres!
Rakhi Chandra led our wine tasting in a private tasting room.
We enjoyed the Estate Tasting, which featured four estate-grown wines from the Hyde Vineyard.
- Chardonnay (2016) is a white wine with rich pear and honeydew melon flavors. I snagged a bottle of the 2012 Chardonnay, which we enjoyed at our Friendsgiving
- Pinot Noir (2014) is a flavorful red wine with layers of dark fruit and spice
- Pinot Noir (2012) is even better than its 2014 version. This vintage has generous flavors of wild berries and finishes with anise, vanilla and dried sage. I brought one of these back with me.
- Viognier (2016) is an intense white wine with exotic apricot, nectarine and honeysuckle flavors
Tastings cost $50/person and require reservations. The 50 minute tasting can be enjoyed in a private room, at the casual tasting bar or on the quaint vineyard terrace. Thanks Rakhi for the wonderful tasting experience.
We concluded our wine tasting adventures at Domaine Carneros. I visited this winery back in 2010 and was excited to return. Domaine Carneros was founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger. In 1987, Claude Taittinger selected a 138-acre parcel in the heart of Carneros. Domaine Carneros produces wines in the traditional champagne method. The winery is housed in an incredible French inspired château.
We selected the Sparkling Wine Sampler, which included
- Ultra Brut (2014) is a refreshing wine with notes of lemon zest, passion fruit and wild flower
- Estate Brut Cuvée (2014) is a rich and complex wine with flavors of juicy pear, honey dew melon and lemon zest
- Brut Rosé (2016) is a balanced sparkling wine with flavors of peaches, mandarin, and pink grapefruit
- Vermeil Demi-Sec (2016) has luscious flavors that evoke lychee, ripe pear, marzipan and apple cobbler
Domaine Carneros offers seated table service in their salon or on the terrace, which overlooks beautiful vineyard-covered hills. The wines can be enjoyed by the glass or served in flights. You can add a paired caviar and artisan cheese plate to your tasting. The wine tasting experiences range in price from $40 to $50/person. Reservations are required.
If you are looking to make a day trip to wine country from San Francisco, then I would highly recommend Carneros. Thanks to Michelle and Elaine for spending the day with me.
Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.Francis Bacon