My Favorite Tasting Room Series – Del Dotto Vineyards

Tasting in the Caves of Del Dotto Winery

Tasting in the Caves of Del Dotto Winery

(By Guest Author Lauryn Mitrovich) My favorite tasting experience occurred in Napa Valley.  It was my boyfriend’s birthday, and his parents rented us a fabulous limo to drive to several wineries. The one that really stood out to all of us was Del Dotto Vineyards.

We arrived at the cave and barrel tasting location for Del Dotto and were greeted by our guide Brandon. Brandon had taken the parents on a tour before and they had an amazing time so they specifically asked for him again. Obviously, something stuck out to me about him as well because even a year later, I can still remember his name. Brandon was lively, passionate, excited, informative, funny, and friendly. Maybe he always has that much energy or maybe he was just responding to how the group energy was, but whatever it was, it worked. Everyone had an amazing time as he lead us through the caves tasting who knows how many wines straight out of the barrels.

Brandon may have been amazing, but I think the ambiance of the location really helped as well. I had never been in a cave quite like that before and it felt really special to be able to try the wines straight from the barrels.

Everyone there really seems to love what they do and love the wine that they are making. I know that we all thought the wine was delicious, but the fact that the people there were so passionate about it as well definitely helped. Also, I think the fact that each tour is personalized to the group of people that are there and the fact that the tour guides decide what to give people to taste as they go along is really something special.

I really haven’t been wine tasting that many times, but I feel like this experience will always stick out to me. Ultimately, the caves, the wine, Brandon, it all worked and its experiences like this that just make me more excited to go out and try new wines and meet new people at other wineries.

My Favorite Tasting Room Series – Testarossa Winery

Testarossa Winery

Testarossa Winery

(By Guest Author Nicholas Giampaoli)  Growing up in the city of San Jose, I was not very familiar with wineries. I always figured that wine came from Sonoma and Napa County. After coming to Sonoma State and becoming more familiar with wine country, when I visited home I wanted to check out some local wineries. I had no idea they even existed in the south bay until I did a web search.

During my web search I came across Testarossa Winery. It turned out that the winery is very historic and is considered the fourth oldest California winery still in operation. Before the winery was called Testarossa, it was Novitate founded in 1888 in Los Gatos. I love anything with historic significance, so I decided to check it out.  It may be a coincidence being my favorite and most memorable tasting room experience but also my very first winery tasting room experience.

Nestled up against the Santa Cruz Mountains, the property was beautiful with California nature surrounding the winery.  Testarossa had somewhat newer buildings in place for the winey, but also left one of the original buildings from when it was first built. They used the building to store the tanks for the fermentation process.

The tasting room was located in a small cave. This was what I found to be awesome. I absolutely love the idea of being inside the mountain with dim lighting. I don’t know why but I think that is really cool. The tasting room representative was really nice and informative. But what I think sold me was the environment of the winery. If I am ever back in the area I would visit Testarossa again.  (http://www.testarossa.com/)

NOTE:  This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.

My Favorite Tasting Room Series – Pride Vineyards in Napa and Sonoma

Tasting at Pride Vineyards

Tasting at Pride Vineyards

(By Guest Author Daniel Walsh)  It was the middle of January in 2012 with open skies and a beautiful coastal breeze in the air.  Two coworkers and myself had made an appointment a month prior to visit Pride Vineyards and Winery on Spring Mountain.  The tasting room was located on the estate, sitting atop the mountain, which is split between the Sonoma/Napa county lines.  Upon arrival, we entered the tasting room and were greeted with a glass of their estate viognier and the Hospitality Manager, Mike Campbell, who lead us on a tour of the estate and through their wine caves.

Upon entering the wine caves, Mike gave us a brief history of the winery as well as the different viticulture practices used around the estate.  At every corner throughout the wine cave, we tasted barrel samples from different vineyard blocks. To my surprise, no vineyard block tasted the same, and every Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah showed different characteristics unique to its location on the estate.  Never before had I experienced such a difference in varietal characteristics that were all grown on the same estate.

As we turned a corner in the wine cave, we came into a door that lead us into a beautiful lounge area with couches, appetizers and the estates current release of wines for a sit down tasting.  Mike introduced every wine individually and explained the technical aspects from varietal blend, amount of oak used, and the type of meal each wine could be paired with.  My favorite food pairing recommendation was for the Syrah, paired with a pork chop in a fig balsamic reduction with roasted potatoes tossed in garlic/mustard aioli.  I remember it so clearly because I bought a bottle of the Syrah and paired it with the meal a few weeks later.

As we returned to the tasting room, we finished up our tour with their dessert wine; grappa distilled from viognier must and blended with fresh viognier juice.  To this day, that is the best dessert wine I’ve ever had in my life.  Pride Vineyards and Winery is located in one of the most beautiful areas of both Sonoma and Napa Counties and produces some of the best wines I’ve ever tasted.  However, the best part of this experience was the hospitality of Mike Campbell.  Mike was the most educational and professional tour guide I’ve ever had the privilege of accompanying and showed coworkers and myself great hospitality when he sent us home with a bottle of dessert wine, on the house.

NOTE:  This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.