The Cellar: Spotlight - Sonoma’

Friday, March 10, 2017
Steffen Rasch, GoLocalWorcester Wine Writer

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.

  • Hardwick

    Hardwick Vineyard & Winery

    Central Mass’s own Hardwick Vineyard & Winery, open March-December, is a close to home treasure that produces 3,000 gallons of wine each year. The winery, which grows 6 varieties of grapes, is built on a quiet road in Hardwick that abuts the Quabbin Reservoir. Located on the property is a majestic 200 year old mansion. This weekend, take the trip to the vineyard to enjoy a wine tasting. Favorites include Massetts Cranberry and Yankee Girl Blush. If you head out on a Sunday; you’ll be in luck—the winery is hosting Sangria Sundays for the rest of the month.

    3305 Greenwich Road, Hardwick, MA. (413) 967-7763.

  • Westport Rivers

    Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery

    Tucked away on the southern coast of Massachusetts, Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, located about an hour’s drive from Worcester, is worth the trip. For only $10, you can take home a special edition etched wine glass and enjoy a tasting of up to six of their award-winning wines. While the tasting room is open Monday-Saturday, free winery tours are also offered to the public every Saturday from 1-3pm.

    417 Hixbridge Rd, Westport, MA. (508) 636-3423.

  • Coastal Vineyards

    A relatively young addition to the Massachusetts family of wineries and vineyards, Coastal Vineyards in South Dartmouth opened its doors in 2004. Coastal Vineyards grows eight varieties of grapes on their property, including Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and more. For a special treat, head over on Sunday for their Ugly Sweater Wine Party featuring acoustic musician Ryan Thaxter. Don your ugliest sweater to get 35% off your purchase—and a chance at a prize.

    61 Pardon Hill Road, South Dartmouth, MA.

  • Amherst Farm Winery

    Head out to one of Massachusetts’s favorite college towns this weekend to check out Amherst Farm Winery. Enjoy a wine tasting set in a cozy 19th century post and beam dairy barn. For only $5 receive a logo glass and a taste of 5 of their 15 wines, including unique flavors like chocolate raspberry, pumpkin frost, cranberry, and more. Bring a picnic and cozy up on their leather sofa by the fire to enjoy your wine with a snack.

    529 Belchertown Road, Amherst, MA. (413) 253-1400.

  • Nashoba Valley WInery

    Take the bite off the winter chill this weekend and take a drive to Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton. The winery hosts tasting events everyday from 10am-4:30pm For $5, receive a free tasting glass and samples of up to five different wines. Some favorites include Strawberry Rhubarb Wine, Holiday Special Cranberry Apple (a new release in November 2013), and New English Cider. If you are in the mood for something other than wine (if that’s possible), check out their beer selection as well!

    100 Wattaquadock Hill Road, Bolton, MA. (978) 779-5521.

  • Mill River Winery

    Mill River Winery, located in Rowley, is the perfect wine destination for a mini-getaway. Enjoy the gorgeous winter scenery of Western Massachusetts as you wind through country roads to the winery. Mill River’s tasting room is housed in a refurbished cider mill, complete with eclectic décor that provides for an excellent tasting and shopping experience. Try their delicious Naked Chardonnay, a full bodied chardonnay with aromatic notes of lemon zest and pear. If you would like to get a “Dirt to Bottle Tour,” make sure to be at the winery at 2pm or 4pm Saturday or Sunday.

    498 Newburyport Turnpike, Rowley, MA. (978) 432-1280.

  • Black Birch Vineyard

    For only $6, get the full Black Birch Vineyard experience—tasting and a tour! Enjoy the great mix of contemporary and rustic décor of the tasting room and the local culture of this Massachusetts winery. While you’re in, be sure to try their award winning selection of reds and whites.

    155 Glendale Road, Southampton, MA. (413) 527-0164.

  • Taylor Brook Winery

    Located just over the border, Taylor Brook Winery in Woodstock, CT, is a hidden gem. This winery tends to over 2,000 vines of the finest grapes in the region. Head down to enjoy the country hospitality of this great local business, which offers tastings, bottles of their wine, and other great gift items for purchase. For a delicious winter wine, try their Winter Pomegranate.

    848 Route 171, Woodstock, CT. (860) 974-1263.

  • Obadiah McIntyre Farm

    Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery

    The Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery is located on the Charlton Orchards Farm property. The winery is owned and operated by a family that has been in the business of growing fruit for over 50 years, and began making wine in 1999. They are dedicated to making the best tasting wines around. Every weekend until the end of December, join them for a tasting and see for yourself.

    44 Old Worcester Road, Charlton, MA. (508) 248-7941.



Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email