We had the pleasure of visiting three of Sonoma’s oldest family vineyards on this trip – Mauritson’s, Gundlach Bundschu and Seghesio.
In the Sonoma wine region these are the vineyards started by of the grandfathers and great grandfathers of the grape growers and winemakers of today. For generations they have farmed and made wine. In Mauritson’s case the winemaking is a recent addition.
The Mauritson family began farming grapes in 1868. It wasn’t until the 1990’s though that a Mauritson wine was produced. Clay Mauritson broke the family farming tradition and became a winemaker.
His first release was in 1998 with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Since then Clay has succeeded in producing vintage after vintage of great wines.
RockPile and Lake Sonoma Below
The family owned 4,000 acres in the Dry Creek Valley by 1960 but the building of the Lake Sonoma reservoir took all but 700 acres.
Jack’s Cabin Vineyard Picnic
We had an a amazing visit to Rockpile Ridge overlooking the lake. We enjoyed a picnic tasting with breathtaking views at the site of Jack’s Cabin with our host Carrie Mauritson. It was delightful – truly special!
The hospitality we received from the Mauritson’s and their staff was incredible. When we returned a day later to order wine and show off the tasting room to some friends Carrie dropped what she was doing and gave us yet another tour. This time we saw the facility on Dry Creek Road including the fascinating lab! First wine lab I’d ever experienced!!
I enjoyed all of their wines. Two particular favorites were the 2012 Rockpile Petite Syrah Madrone Spring Vineyard and the 2012 Rockpile Zinfandel Cemetery Vineyard. Many in our party were taken by the unique 2012 Rockpile Independence. By the looks of what was being purchased, the 2012 Westphall Ridge Vineyard and the Jack’s Cabin Vineyard Rockpile Zins were hits among us also.
Many, many thanks from all of us to Carrie and Clay Mauritson!
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John and I visited Gundlach Bundschu for the first time while the World Series was being played. It was 1989 and it was San Francisco vs. Oakland. It was memorable and even more so because on that same trip we crossed the Bay Bridge the day before the earthquake took it out.
26 years ago the tasting room was pretty small but our memory of it is vivid thanks to the host at the time who was welcoming and lively. She was outfitted in dangly baseball earrings, an a Oakland A’s T shirt and it was clear she enjoyed her job.
Today the tasting room is lovely, the drive to it is paved and a cave has been added for barrel storage and special tastings. Actually the entire facility and grounds have expanded beautifully.
Gundlach Bundschu has the distinction of being the oldest family owned winery in Califorinia. Gundlach purchased the land in 1858. Six generations have farmed these vineyards and produced wine. Blogschu is their blog and it is chock full of stories worthy of a read.
We were treated to a specially designed tour of the vineyard that allowed us an opportunity to learn about their sustainable vineyard practices, view much of the property, share in a tasting along the way and finally gather in the cave to taste some even more exceptional wines.
This form of touring is a bit rough. You definitely have to remember to keep your hand over your wine glass as the dust is wild and so is the wind at times.
Rob Bundschu was our superb host! He entertained us with family stories and kept our rowdy group in line. Read more about this tour on their page – Vineyard Excursions.
The views were exceptional as were the wines.
As you leave the winery, at the gate, before entering the main road, there is sign that is so fitting to the laid back feel of this place……..
Beware of the real world beyond these gates
So before you go to Sonoma and to Gundlach Bundschu, take a look at the winery’s event schedule. They have some of the most unusual and wonderful lineups of musicians, movies and more that are worth planning your trip around.
Thank you Rob, the entire Gundlach Bundschu family and Chris for giving us such a truly special afternoon!
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The Seghesio family began planting grapes in the Alexander Valley in 1895. Five generations have been involved with the business of growing grapes and making wine.
We had a private tasting arranged one morning on this trip. Our host, Tony provided us with plates of cured in house meats, spectacular olives and bruschetta to accompany the wines he was pouring for us.
Some of the Seghesio’s wines we tried at the tasting were:
2012 Cortina Zinfandel
2012 Rockpile Zinfandel
2012 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
One of the most interesting varietals tasted was the 2007 Aglianico. The grapes grow in their Sisters vineyard on the Home Ranch in Alexander Valley.
Many thanks to the Seghesio family and Chris for making this tasting possible!
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