This year for the Annual Sonoma Reserve Wine Event, I decided to enjoy the small batch tour of wineries which were all off of the beaten path. Right decision. Most of the spots we visited on this day were located on steep terrain with wonderful views and also a difficult climb for the vehicles. The tasting group I toured with were afforded the nicer more compact luxury buses to make the trip smoothly.
Sonoma Reserve takes place each year during harvest, usually in October. This makes the views of the colors of the ever changing vines all the more enjoyable. Reds, greens, oranges and yellows abound while the vineyards celebrate Autumn. Each tour includes four winery destinations, chauffeured transportation, a wine country lunch, and an unforgettable experience.
I believe there are four or five tours to choose from. The Sonoma Reserve event is hosted by Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance, an Organization formed to promote local wines and grapes, support cooperation and collaboration among the region’s vintners and growers.
Our first stop on this tour was Amapola Creek Winery by Richard Arrowood. The Amapola Creek story began in 2001 when the vineyards idea was started on the western slope of the Mayacamas Mountains—those magnificent mountains that rise between and separate the Sonoma and Napa valleys.
With approximately 100 acres along the sun-washed western slope of the Mayacamas Mountains adjacent to the highly-acclaimed Monte Rosso Vineyard, all are certified organic vineyards, not too shabby. The Arrowood family planted approximately 20 acres of organically certified estate vines to craft their fine wines with.
The winery itself is very small and an ultra-premium facility, certified as an “organic handling facility.” With a winemaking philosophy of “prevention not intervention”, this space seems to work perfectly. The structure, encompassing 5,100 square feet indoors, consists of metal panels. We were met by a nice man named David. In 2013, harvest was very early and Richard Arrowood was already vacationing elsewhere without grapes on the vine to tend to.
I had heard wonderful things about Mr. Arrowood and our tour guide had mentioned that on her last tour of the facilities, he was a terrific personality and was running around pulling barrel samples for guests. Next time.
Amapola Creek is an appointment only tasting and I was glad to arrive and sip some terrific wines that day. We started with a lovely Chardonnay which I liked as we enjoyed the views and the morning sounds, it was about 11am at this point. Our first winery of four total that day to visit. The Chardonnay had pear on the nose and honeydew melon on the palate with a lingering fruit finish.
Next we tried the Cabernet that we had heard so much about from the Estate Vineyards. Taste was of black fruit mixed with elegantly spicy oak. I also had the slightest hint of bittersweet chocolate and ripe red berries. Overall, this ended up being the group favorite. One of the wines that I was excited to try is always sold out quickly due to its very limited production.
David was nice enough to open a bottle of the Cuvee Alis, named after Richard’s wife from what I understand. This was an amazing wine and by far my favorite as well. Why can’t more winemakers make tribute wines to their spouses? Haha.
Amapola Creek’s Cuvee Alis is an intense Rhône blend of 65 percent Syrah and 35 percent Grenache produced from their estate vines. It offers a lightly perfumed nose of candied fruit and warm cherry pie, and a hint of pepper and smoke. On the mouth you have black fruits, cherry, hints of citrus and spice. Wonderful. This Sonoma wine can stand up to 10 years or more of cellaring. Brava.
We didn’t get a tour of the facilities on this visit but I do plan to return for a more lengthy stay next time when I am not part of a group tasting tour. Next stop on our adventure was to Laurel Glen Vineyards which is also in Sonoma and features a high elevation vineyard tih fantastic views and fierce Cabernet pours of course. See the article on Laurel Glen Winery and my visit on the blog HERE.
Amapola Creek by Appointment – Website Here
392 London Way
Sonoma, CA 95476
For more information or to make a tour reservation, call 707.938.3783 between 9am – 4pm Monday through Friday, or email info@AmapolaCreek.com. Please keep in mind they offer tour and tastings on weekdays at 10:30am and 1pm. They are closed on weekends.