Seattle Beer Week: Day 8

Last week the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission rolled into Chicago to promote its regions’ many wines. For those of you who have enjoyed wines from Carneros, Russian River Valley, Santa Rosa, and others, these are all wines produced in Sonoma County, which runs along California’s Coast, an ideal growing location for many types of wines. Sonoma County produces award-winning wines and is especially known for producing Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel varietals.

Napa Valley is jam-packed with wineries and five-star restaurants. It is the hub of the area. The best way to reach there is to go down the Silverado Trail instead of Hwy 29. Sonoma is sloppier and stretched, even though Hwy 12 is not the most appealing drive as it can also get backed up. Beautiful Dry Creek is the best option for biking between tasting and rural West Dry Creek Rd is a good stake. Auto Camp Drina is the favorite of local people. It is full of wineries all along Westside Rd and canoeing in summer and fall. Alexander is the calmest valley, having an Old West aura and red wines.

The Commission hosted many wine tasting events for both the trade and the public. One of the events open to the public was a walk-around tasting held at Binny’s South Loop location at 1132 S. Jefferson, one of Binny’s newer locations (complete with lounge stocked with a full bar). Over a dozen wineries were on hand, pouring samples from their portfolios. The task at hand? To find a handful of wines to tote to BYOBs for the near future. Of particular interest are wines to bring to BBQ BYOBs and summery wines that pair well with a wide variety of cuisines. I’m always on the outlook for wines that are versatile, food-friendly, and, above all, “value wines,” or exceptional wines available at low price points (read: $20 and below).

Steelhead fly fishing etiquette is much the same as fishing for their smaller cousins but I recently learned of an extra point I’d like to share here as well.

Special beer and tapas pairings with two beers chosen by our Chef, Lisa G., or pick your own! Call the TapRoom (707)778-8776 for the special of the day. Music by the Smokehouse Gamblers.

On the palate, you experience an extremely smooth, almost svelte consistency – like dietetic cherry pie. That’s both the good and the bad news. No one could ever call this unpleasant. But hard to acknowledge it as truly memorable. I will give it three stars out of five.

Though tasting rooms remain open throughout the year (around 10am to 4pm), the best time to visit these valleys is spring, or still better fall. Visitors should plan to visit only three to four wineries a day, as tastings usually take in four to six different types of wines and vary from free to US $ 25. There is a great variety of wines, many of them organic or biodynamic. Napa Valley specializes in cabernets and meritage, while Sonoma Valley is known for syrah and zinfandel. Dry Creek’s famous varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, syrah and sangiovese. Russian River’s specialty is pinot noir and Alexander Valley has zinfandel and chardonnay.

Updated, with additional decant: I left a half-bottle of the Bookster Pinot Noir for a one-day decant in bottle, vacuumed with a Vac-u-Vin. Interestingly, it picked up sweetness and depth with the extra time, bringing it back to three stars. So, an enigma, indeed, now wrapped in a mystery!

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