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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sojourn Cellars ~ Highly rated Pinot Noirs & Cabernets

This weekend (June 24-25th) our tasting will be featuring Sojourn Cellars.  We have been planning this tasting for awhile now and cannot wait to open up this weekend’s wines.  Sal has been holding on to vintages for a couple years now so this is going to be fun.

Plato said “Life is but a sojourn. Enjoy the best of it.” Craig Haserot (wine taster) and Erich Bradley (winemaker) are two buddies who met on the tennis courts of Sonoma and decided to take Plato’s advice and formed Sojourn Cellars in 2000. They started in 2001 with the release of 100 cases of Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and by 2004 they added Pinot Noir to their production lineup. Sojourn remains today a boutique artisan producer of Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon wines sold on allocation to their mailing list members and a select group of restaurants, retailers, and distribution partners.

Their handcrafted wines have won considerable praise from the wine press. Known for their critically acclaimed wines, Sojourn has distinguished itself by offering excellent, high-end, products that are also a good value and by delivering their wines to customers through a buying experience that also displays the accessibility, authenticity, and care that have become trademarks of their winemaking process.

Craig Haserot is the man behind sales, management and promotion of the Sojourn Cellars label. He is an ex-computer software salesperson who decided to move to Sonoma County after the crash and pursue a new career. He began playing tennis at Maxwell Farms Regional Park where he struck up a friendship with Erich Bradley. Both had a passion for wine, especially Pinot Noir, and soon they were talking about launching a winery together.

Erich Bradley is a native Californian from the San Francisco Peninsula who became intrigued by wine when his family bought a 26-acre ranch in Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon complete with an 8.5-acre vineyard and a 500 case winery. As part of the sale, the Bradleys were taught winemaking. Erich later studied winemaking at UC Davis and viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College and was mentored by winemakers Richard Arrowood of Arrowood Vineyards & Winery and David Ramey of Ramey Wine Cellars. In 2003, Erich became the winemaker for Audelssa Estate, a winery at Mountain Terraces Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, where he still makes wine today. He produces a Mountain Terraces Cabernet Sauvignon for both Audelssa Estate Winery and Sojourn Cellars. In 2007, he became winemaker for Hop Kiln and HK Generations wines. Erich’s wines have garnered widespread acclaim among both the press and consumers.

Sojourn fruit is sourced from properties that have the capacity to produce wines of distinction, thanks in large part to unique and specific combinations of soil, climate, and exposure.  Farmed by growers who share Sojourn’s commitment to low crop yields and high quality, the fruit is sorted extensively in the field throughout the growing season as well as in the winery post-Harvest to ensure that only the most sound, perfectly ripe fruit makes its way into fermentation tanks.

Winemaking is very hands-off, using whole berry native fermentations in small open-tops, hand punch-downs, basket pressing, no pumps, unfined and unfiltered.  All Sojourn wines are fermented and barrel-aged in small lots and attended to when necessary by hand from the vineyard to the bottle to best manage tannins and mouthfeel and to preserve the maximum amount of personality and soul.  The wines are made at the Audelssa Estate Winery in Glen Ellen, California.

 So what are we going to be tasting this weekend?

  • ’09 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 91pts Wine Spectator
  • ’08 Rogers Creek Pinot Noir, 90pts Robert Parker
  • ’08 Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir, 91pts Robert Parker
  • ’09 Sangiacomo Pinot Noir, 94pts Wine Spectator
  • ’08 Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, 90pts Robert Parker
  • ’07 Spring Mt. Cabernet Sauvignon, 90 Points Connoisseurs’ Guide

$24 tasting (1.5oz pours of all 6 wines)

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Morgan Winery Tasting Featuring Winemaker Gianni Abate

On June 8th we were fortunate to host winemaker Gianni Abate from Morgan Winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands in a trade and midweek tasting of some of their wines, including their world class single vineyard Pinot Noirs as well as five of the twelve pinot noir clones that are planted in their Double L Vineyard.

We began the trade tasting by sampling several Pinot Noir clonal varieties from their Double L Vineyard. Straight from the barrel, a side by side comparison of the clones that go into many of the Pinot Noirs we already enjoy was a fascinating analysis.

We also had the privilege of tasting Morgan’s ’10 Monterey Sauvignon Blanc, offering tropical sweet grass flavors; the ’09 Highland Chardonnay, a food friendly Chardonnay featuring light butterscotch and refreshing grapefruit flavors; and the ’09 “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir, derived from various vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, including Morgan’s own organically farmed “Double L” estate, indicating it comes from the original twelve clones planted in the Double L Vineyard.

For the single vineyard selections, we sampled the ’08 Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir, ’09 Double L Vineyard Pinot Noir, ’08 Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the ’09 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Gianni stuck around after the trade tasting to talk to customers about Morgan’s wines for those that wanted to taste through the Sauvignon Blanc, Highlands Chardonnay and single vineyard Pinot Noirs. All the wines were fantastic and unique in their own right. We’ve already received the ’09 Sauvignon Blanc, ’09 Highland Chardonnay, ’09 “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir, ’09 Double L Pinot Noir, and the ’09 Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir in stock, so come by and pick up a bottle of wine from a family winery that’s committed to making quality wines from the esteemed Santa Lucia Highlands!

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May Madness!

My, what a busy month May was for us! It was packed full of events we’d like to share with you. Aside from the various trade tastings the staff went to (we’re always on the lookout for new wines!) we hosted and participated in a number of exciting events at the shop.

The first weekend in May the Packing House hosted the Phestival of the Arts which brought Claremontians into the Packing House for a variety of crafts and activities. We were excited to put our corks to good use for the youngsters to turn into art. We saw some great picture frames and flower pots spruced up and it was nice to hang out with the younger crowd, even if they are a few years away from enjoying our wine!

That same weekend, we were very honored to host the wedding reception for two of our dear friends and customers, Mary and Steve. We were so pleased that they could share such a momentous occasion with their friends and family at the store, and were happy to provide a stress-free and beautiful day for the couple. With the store brought to life by flowers from Fiori Wedding Co, we provided a number of great wines and cheese platters to keep the party going.

On May 21st the highly anticipated Amgen Tour of California finally hit the town. What an exciting day! Claremontians and Californians alike packed the streets for a glimpse of the riders as they passed through the village. We and our customers were lucky to have a front row seat of the action as the peloton passed by the store twice before starting their Mt. Baldy climb. Our patio was packed as festivities all over the city carried on throughout the day.

During graduation weekend, we were pleased to pour the lineup of Orin Swift wines for our weekend tasting. Featuring a slightly different set of wines each night, it was our most successful tasting of the year by far. We could barely keep up with the action! Orin Swift also recently released two new wines, the ’09 D66 which is a wonderful Grenache that combines new and old world styles and the ’10 Veladora Sauvignon Blanc. The Veladora is a floral Sauvignon Blanc with subtle acidity, and Orin Swift has committed all of the profits from the wine Puertas Abiertas, a philanthropic coalition that provides dental services, counseling and health screenings for those in need. We are happy to support such a great cause while tasting such great wines!

We still have plenty of the Orin Swift wines along side our normal selection, so stop by whenever you get the opportunity and we’ll see you again in June.

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