Northern California wine country — Oh, how I miss thee!
I can’t believe it’s been a week since my Sonoma/Napa Labor Day Weekend trip! I had soooo much fun. I’d have to say it was my best wine tasting experience yet. This trip wasn’t just about visiting tasting rooms. I also got a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at many of the wineries I visited too. I saw a different side of the winemaking business, that only strengthened my love for the industry and made me want to learn more! A California native, I can’t believe it took me this long to make it to the wine mecca of my home state. A week later and all I can think of is going back next
I visited 10 wineries over three days, so I’m going to break up my trip into three blog posts. Check out the recap of my first day below.
My wine adventure began the Friday of the Labor Day Weekend. My friend and I spent the day in Healdsburg checking out some of the local wineries. Healdsburg is a small town in Northern Sonoma County. It actually sits at the juncture of three prime winegrowing regions — the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley wine appellations. The streets are lined with tasting rooms. Now, that’s my kind of town ;) Our first stop, Selby Winery Tasting Room, happened to be an Instagram find.
- Tasting Room Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Wine Tastings: $5 (six wines); Reserve Tasting for $10 (5 wines)
- Top Selling Wine: Chardonnay
- Winery Fun Fact: Since 1998, 75 Selby vintages have been served at the White House. Michelle Obama is a big fan of their Sauvignon Blanc.
- YGOM Favorite(s): 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley (Just like Mich); 2014 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
One of the things that initially made me want to put Selby on my ‘must visit’ list was that it’s owned by a woman. Yes, and she’s the winemaker too. Susie Selby is pretty awesome! She has a BA in economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from George Washington University. She’s always shared a love of wine with her father. Their first vintage was in 1993 and produced 150 cases of Chardonnay. After her father passed away in 1997, she decided to leave corporate America to pursue a full-time career in the wine industry. She pretty much used her business/marketing background to work her way up in the wine industry and eventually open her own tasting room. That in itself is inspiring for any woman like myself who trying to find her way in this wine industry. Today, the Selby Winery Tasting Room is the oldest tasting room in Healdsburg.
Next, we were off to visit my friend Clay Mauritson at Mauritson Wines.
- Tasting Room Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Wine Tastings: $20 (four wines); Private tours and tastings for $40
- Winery Bestseller: Zinfandel (Take your pick, there are eight!!)
- Winery Fun Fact: Rockpile Wines are produced cross 10 vineyards. All named with different geographic descriptors. (ex. Jack’s Cabin)
- YGOM Favorite: 2015 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley (This should be the poster child for all Sauv Blancs!)
I was really excited to stop by Mauritson Wines on my trip. Earlier this year, I had met the owner Clay at a ‘Taste of Sonoma’ wine event in Houston. I really enjoyed his wines (especially the Sauvignon Blanc) and talking with him about his winery. I couldn’t wait to see it in-person!
With it being the beginning of harvest season, things were a little hectic for Clay, but he still made time to host us, which we truly appreciated! I wasn’t sure what to expect upon our arrival, but our experience at Mauritson completely blew our minds. Not only did we get a tour of the facility, but we also got an up close look at the winemaking person. For a wine geek like me, I was in complete awww. This was above and beyond my normal winery visits, which had basically been limited to the tasting rooms. For the first time, I was able to see where all the magic happened. *insert happy dance*
Clay’s passion for winemaking was evident throughout our entire tour. According to him, wine is about the evolution. There’s a certain art and chemistry involved in the process that I’m so thankful I was able to see firsthand. I have a whole new appreciation for wine now that I’ve seen how it’s made. I couldn’t have asked for a better visit!
Our final stop for the day was at Bella Winery.
- Tasting Room Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Wine Tasting: $10 (five wines)
Prior to my trip, my friend made it known that we should stop by Bella. It was was her favorite winery in the area. I was curious to see what all the hype was about. Luckily, during Labor Day weekend, they were hosting tastings in their wine cave, so that peaked my interest. After ah-mazing experiences at Selby and Mauritson, Bella had tough acts to follow.
Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with Bella. Maybe it was because they offered mostly red wines on their tasting menu and as we all should know by now I’m really into white wines right now. Nothing really stood out to me, but I know that Bella is a popular winery in the area. It just didn’t do it for me. *shrug*
Anyways, my first day was a great kick off to my Labor Day Weekend in wine country. If you’re planning a trip, I’d definitely try to visit around harvest season (late August – October). It’s an experience that every wine enthusiast should take part in. Stay tuned for more of wine adventures as I blog about Day 2 next.