A Magical Field Trip to Hanna Winery in Sonoma

(Contributed by Jennifer Schiff) In October the SSU Wine Sense Club put on an extravagant field trip to Hanna Winery in Alexander Valley. Driving up the long and beautifully landscaped driveway, everyone was very impressed with the Spanish style architecture of Hanna Winery and the sweeping views of the valley. Our tasting took place under the large oak tree below the tasting room, and was facilitated by Shelby Lozinto, an intern at Hanna and also our Wine Sense Club president.

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Hanna Winery – Photo Credit: Hanna.com

About Hanna Winery

Hanna Winery was first started in 1985 by Dr. Elias Hanna.  Then Christine Hanna, president and daughter of Dr. Elias Hanna, took over operations of the winery in 1996.  At that time, the annual production was less than 10,000 cases per year, but now the winery produces up to 55,000 cases annually and is growing steadily.  Out of the 55,000 case production, 35,000 cases are solely Sauvignon Blanc, which has become the signature wine of Hanna. This is primarily because they consistently win best of show medals on this delicious wine with notes of grapefruit, grass, and a refreshing acidity.

Wine Tasting at Hanna

It was only fitting that we started with the 2015 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River Valley.  This wine took best in class during the San Francisco Wine Competition and received a double Gold medal during the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

The second wine presented to the club was the 2014 Hanna Rosé, which was produced in more of a French fashion meaning it was light, crisp, and not very sweet; a dry taste of the wine was emphasized. The Hanna Rosé is almost a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Malbec. The Malbec is produced in Alexander Valley, whereas the Pinot Noir comes from the Russian River Valley. A fun fact about this wine is to achieve the beautiful light pink color, the skins of the grapes are only in contact with the juices for at most 4 hours.

The third wine the club tasted was the 2014 Elias Chardonnay.  The Elias brand name is derived from Dr. Hanna’s first name, he is also a renowned heart surgeon.  During Dr. Hanna’s career, he was known for having the “Quickest hands in the West.” Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are some of his favorite varietals to grow and consume.  This Chardonnay is grown in the Russian River Valley near the Santa Rosa tasting room. It is also barrel fermented in French and Hungarian Oak which gives the wine its smooth texture.

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SSU WineSense Club Members at Hanna Winery

After the Chardonnay the group went on to sample the 2014 Hanna Malbec, which had recently received, the Gold Medal in the San Francisco Chronical. The Malbec came across as the perfect Fall wine as it resembles pumpkin pie spice, “jammy” cranberry sauce and an essence of sage; the perfect complement to any Thanksgiving meal. Overall the wine was very lively on the palate.

The last wine the group experienced was the 2013 Hanna Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This bold wine was given 94 points by Robert Parker and retails for $62. It is grown in Alexander Valley where the valley has the perfect warm and sunny climate to produce Cabernet Sauvignon.

Big John’s Market, Grape Tasting in the Vineyard & Horse Carriage Ride

During the Wine tasting the Wine Sense Club enjoyed refreshing and delicious sandwiches and goodies from Big Johns Market in Healdsburg. At the end of the tasting Shelby escorted the group into the vineyards where everyone was able to sample a few grapes straight off the vine. In the area, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec were available to taste. The group was astonished with how sweet the grapes actually tasted and were amazed at the transformation they go through to transform into wine.

To continue with the tour of the property, Brett Roland, a local wine tourist guide was kind enough to take the wine club on a horse and carriage ride down to the ponds. To end the tour of the property, Shelby took the group into the cellar room below the tasting room to show off the barrels and tanks.

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Horse Carriage Ride Through the Vineyards at Hanna Winery

Hanna Winery – a Truly Magical Place

Enjoying the wines, the education, the beautiful scenery and clear blue sky above, the group was enamored by the wonderful experience. Overall, Hanna Winery had been a great destination to take in the beauty that Alexander Valley has to offer and enjoy some premium wines of Sonoma County.

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A Toast to Hanna Winery for a Great Field Trip

Passing Around Passaggio Wines at SSU WineSense Meeting

Passaggio_TRContributed by Sophia Fish – Four generations ago Cindy Cosco’s family ventured from Italy to America. In 2004 Cindy, who spent 15 years developing a career in law enforcement, left to pursue her passion and create a new generation of wines. She then started Passaggio Wines, which in Italian translates to ‘passage’ or ‘pass from’.

Cindy has three labels, one of which is her goodwill bottling, a small label is called Unmarked Wines. The name comes from her career in law enforcement, aspiring to be a detective and drive an unmarked car. She put these aspirations aside to pursue her winemaking, but donates 5% of sales as a tribute to the selfless men and women in law enforcement.

Passiaggio Wines has been very successful venture and even opened up a tasting room on the Sonoma Square last year. “I believe something magical happens when you bring wonderful friends, awesome food and great wines together,” says Cindy Cosco

Tasting of Four Passaggio Wines

Passagio winesWe tasted the following four Passaggio Wines:

  • 2014 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc: Notes of citrus, guava, pineapple, tropical fruit, floral notes, balanced acidity with a lasting finish.
  • 2014 California Unoaked Chardonnay: Yellow apple, Bartlett pear, floral notes with hints of vanilla, citrus, Meyer lemon, soft apple, crisp mineral flavors with a smooth finish.
  • 2014 California Mourvedre Rose: Strawberry, floral, raspberry, cherry with a bright refreshing finish.
  • 2013  Sonoma County Unmarked Pinot Noir: Raspberry, red cherry, spice, plum clove, with minerality, balanced tannins and acidity.

The Favorites?

2014 California Unoaked Chardonnay

2014 Sonoma County Unmarked Pinot Noir

Wine club

Kicking Off with Kenwood Winery – First Fall 2015 Tasting of SSU Wine Sense Club

SSU Winesense Kenwood Winery Tasting

SSU Winesense Kenwood Winery Tasting

Contributed by Sophia Fish – Cheers to a great first Wine Sense Club meeting for Fall 2015! We were very excited to welcome Maxwell Burns and our very own VP of Operations Matt Lopez from Kenwood Vineyards to come speak with us about their fabulous winery.

Kenwood Vineyards – Historic & Sustainable Cellar

Kenwood Vineyards was established in 1970 formerly the Pagani Brothers Winery, a historic cellar dating back to 1906. Kenwood Vineyards is devoted to producing premium wines truly representative of Sonoma County’s world class vineyards.

Kenwood Vineyards is committed to making the finest wines and treating the earth with the utmost respect. They are doing this by following sustainable growing practices . They stand by this philosophy and make every effort to reduce waste, recycle and lower their energy consumption.

Tasting of 4 Magnificent Kenwood Wines

2014 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc: The first is a Sauvignon Blanc with fruit sourced from vineyards located in five different appellations in Sonoma County. Aromas of white nectarine, honeydew melon and lemongrass combine with citrus and tropical flavors that give a crisp and refreshing finish.

Kennwood wines2012 Sonoma County Reserve Merlot: Next we had a 2012 Reserve Merlot from Sonoma County. The production of this reserve wine was limited to less than six percent of Kenwood Vineyards’ Merlot production. This wine is full of enticing fruit aromas of fig, plum and black cherry join with spicy notes of nutmeg.

2012 Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel: We felt incredibly lucky to taste the 2012 Zinfandel from Kenwood’s Jack London Vineyard. It was interesting to learn that over 30 years, Kenwood Vineyards has exclusively crafted wine from the single vineyards of Jack London’s historic ranch. The flavors from these vineyards emanate fruity aromas of raspberry and fig mixed with subtle notes of vanilla and pepper.

2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon: Last but certainly not least, we were inspired by Kenwood’s 2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. The art featured on every bottle incorporates fine wine to make each new Artist Series release an event and every vintage a prime collectible. The Artist Series originally highlighted works by contemporary artists, then 1987 vintage broke with tradition by featuring a painting from Joan Miro.  In the years since, the Artist Series has presented works from other important artists including Pablo Picasso, Henry Miller, Alexander Calder and Vincent van Gogh. This wine is full of fragrant fruit aromas of cassis and black cherry joined with spicy notes of cinnamon.

Favorite Wines of the Evening:

At the conclusion of the tasting, and before prices were revealed, we voted on our favorite wines of the evening.  The winners were:

2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel

 

 

Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc Voted Favorite in SSU Tasting of Classic White Grapes

Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley

Chateau Montelena in Napa valley

What is a classic white wine grape? It is a variety that has proved it can produce consistently high quality over a long period of time in more than one region of the world. Therefore, though there are more than 120 commercially produced wine grapes, only 5 are considered to be classic white wine grapes:

  1. Chardonnay – famous in Burgundy, Sonoma and many other regions of the world
  2. Sauvignon Blanc – famous in the Loire, Bordeaux, New Zealand and many other region
  3. Riesling – famous in Germany, Austria and Australia
  4. Chenin Blanc – famous in the Loire and South Africa
  5. Semillon – famous in Bordeaux and Australia

wineIn a blind tasting of these five famous varietals in Bus 305W, the 42 Millennial wine  business majors identified Chateau Montelena’s 2013 Sauvignon Blanc as their favorite – even over a  delicious Semillon based Sauternes from France.

Students described Chateau Montelena’s wine as having a nose of grapefruit with appealing notes of kiwi, grass and lemon on the palate and a refreshing acidity. Made in a white Bordeaux style with moderate oak aging, the wine sells for $35 at the winery.

 

Blind Wine Tasting Battle with SSU Students and Quivera Winery

By Guest Author: Jenna Riggan – The latest SSU Wine Sense club meeting was full of conversation and member participation. Quivira Vineyards and Winery shared three of their lovely biodynamic wines with 23 students, who were both intrigued and impressed with the elements involved in biodynamic winemaking. Our chefs prepared a hearty meal of Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, a mixed green salad with fig vinaigrette, and an insanely delicious rum cake to be paired with the Quivira wines. For a fun twist, SSU Wine Sense officers also organized a blind tasting competition, where SSU Wine Sense members (and Quivira guest Nicholas Amtower!) were randomly assigned to teams and faced the challenge of deducing the varietal and price range of five different wines.

Favorite wine of the evening  

The favorite wine of the evening from Quivira Vineyards and Winery was the 2010 Quivira Vineyards and Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley ($32). However, this wine is not your typical Sauvignon Blanc, it was actually 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Viognier. The nose on this wine was typical of a Viognier, with aromatics such as orange blossom, melon and white peach, as well as a body that stayed true to the refreshing, acidic and juicy characteristics of a Sauvignon Blanc. Quivira Vineyards and Winery is located in Dry Creek Valley, with a beautiful biodynamic estate and a total of 93 acres of vines. For more information, see http://www.quivirawine.com/index.html 

Let the blind tasting battle begin!  

Our members enthusiastically dove into discussions of what their wine could possibly be. Officers could hear questions and comments such as “Isn’t that too dark to be a Pinot Noir?” and “I think this is a Chardonnay because it feels buttery and creamy…but it’s definitely an affordable one.” The blind tasting allowed SSU Wine Sense members to open up and put the knowledge they accumulated from wine club meetings to the test.  After tallying the scores, we can say that while our members were less adept at accurately guessing the price ranges, they were certainly more accurate in determining the varietals. And…they had fun while doing it!