Sold-Out Tasting for Flowers Winery & Petaluma Gap’s Clary Ranch

When I arrived at SSU’s Winesense Tasting this week, I was surprised to see a note on the door saying “sold-out; no more seats available.”  This was exciting because it was a testament to the wonderful wines that were served that evening from the Sonoma Coast Appellation.  

Over 50 Millennials crowded the room to listen to winemakers Darrin Low of Flowers Vineyard and Paul Clary of Clary Ranch.  Both wineries specialize in growing grapes that crave the cooler climates of the Sonoma Coast AVA.  Flowers is situated near the Pacific Ocean and is famous for its pinot noirs and chardonnay, whereas Clary Ranch is located in the windy region of the Petaluma Gap and is known for its cool-climate syrah and pinot noir.

Another surprise of the evening is that there was a 4-way tie on first and second place wines.  Since we only tasted 5 wines, this means there were four top favorites! 

Flowers Winery from the Extreme Sonoma Coast

From Flowers, the Millennials really enjoyed the 2009 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($45) with its bright strawberry nose and very approachable ripe berry palate with silky tannins. The 2007 Flowers Andreen-Gale Chardonnay ($48) was equally popular with rich aromas of melon and brioche followed by lemon on the palate with a refreshing high acidity.  (See

Clary Ranch Winery in the Petaluma Gap 

Clary Ranch scored very high with its 2006 Clary Ranch Pinot Noir Grower’s Reserve ($40) which was a bigger pinot with a ripe cherry cola nose and complex earthy palate.  The 2006 Clary Ranch Syrah Shazzam ($28) was amazing with blueberry and pepper notes, firm tannins, and complex gamey notes – very similar in style to a Northern Rhone.  (See 

Innovative Food/Wine Matching  – Chocolate Bacon with Lavendar

Inspired by the list of wines to be served, Chef Gianna was even more creative than usual in her food/wine pairings for the evening.  For the chardonnay and lighter style pinot noirs, she created Salmon Mash Potatoes.  This was followed by Pulled Pork with Merlot Sandwiches which paired very well with the bigger pinot noirs and cool-climate syrah.  Dessert was probably the most innovative and fun concoctions I’ve ever tasted.  She prepared five types of chocolate covered bacon:  1) with rosemary; 2) orange rind; 3) lavender (my favorite); 4) cayenne pepper; and 5) plain.  All of these paired very well with the pinot noirs and the syrah. 

This was truly a tasting NOT to missed – but you had to arrive early!

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