Backroads Napa/Sonoma trip + lots of tasting

Would not have been ready to go back to Napa just to taste. Would not have wanted to just ride a bike everyday without any tasting. Luckily I had an opportunity to do both one one trip. Didn’t take any real detailed notes so this will be a broader impression…


SFO at noon. Drove to Saintsbury for first tasting - Saintsbury. Tasted Chards and Pinots - some I had before and some new ones. No Vin Gris this time.

2021 Sangiacomo, Green Acres Cl. 809 Chardonnay
2021 Sangiacomo Old Wente Chardonnay
2021 Pratt Vineyard Pinot Noir
2021 Roberts Road Pinot Noir
2021 Sundawg Ridge Pinot Noir

Next- Schrader had a release party that happened to fall on exactly the right night. Apparently they have never had a tasting room so this was a first for them. Serendipitous. Lots of wines. May have forgotten one of teh 21s here, but I think this is pretty close:

2020 Robert Mondavi the estates fume blanc
2021 double diamond red blend
2021 double diamond cabernet
2021 mt veeder Cabernet
2021 Schrader mb
2021 Schrader ccs?
2019 HWC

2016 Schrader rbs from 3L
2013 old sparky from 6L
2006 ccs from 3L


Matthiason. Fun tasting with Derrick. Lovely, unique wines that made me want to taste more. Joined club. Hulet Syrah was a standout. Lean wines with a lot of character. Got lucky with the late harvest this year - lots of activity everywhere.

When Cathy needs to turn left onto 29, you let her in. Making a huge assumption here but seems likely.

Stopped by Calafia - neat tiny winery discovered last year because we stayed next door. Managed to catch Randle even though we didn’t have an appointment - said quick hi and bought a few bottles to take with us. Really enjoy their Rose.

Rivers-Marie with Frank. Still love Bearwallow Chard. As a non-Pinot lover, really liked Summa (and quite a bit more than Summa old vines I tried last year). Had recently ordered Panek and was happy to confirm it was my favorite of 3 cabs. Vidovich Lane was interesting and had definite potential. On the nose what came to mind was mowing over a fresh patch of clover. Vegetal, minty. Still prefer Panek.

2021 Bearwallow chard
2021 platt chard
2021 summa Pinot
2021 Calistoga cab
2021 panek
2021 vidovich lane

We were staying in Fairfield almost next door to Bally Keal - really wanted to stop there but ran out of energy and had Etna Bianco and some other things where we were staying.

Pine ridge sparkling chenin/viognier
2022 tenuta tascante buonora
2021 Calafia Charbono
2021 Calaria verdelho
2022 Calafia The Princess Rose

Sunday - day 1 of Backroads trip.

Oakville grade, Ottimo lunch with mediocre wines. Wanted to visit Cami for tasting, ran out of energy. Olabisi with dinner (tasted there last year).

Monday - day 2 of backroads

Biked from Pope valley down to valley floor. Pestoni Family winery at lunch. Not impressed with wines. Varietal reds didn’t taste as expected - all kind of similar, could have been Zinfandels.

2022 sauv blanc
2020 Sangiovese
Cab 2019 Rutherford?
Merlot 2019 Rutherford?

Skipped afternoon ride, borrowed a cruiser bike in Calistoga instead, rode up to Tamber Bey. Really loved “Sans chene” chardonnay but everything was good. Joined club. Took a bottle of Deux Chevaux for dinner.

2022 Sans chene Chardonnay
2022 SB
2019 cab
2019 cab deux chevaux
2021 rabicano

Tuesday - Day 3 of backroads

Windsor to Sebastopol. “Lunch” was beer tasting at Crooked Goat, then wine tasting at Pax with some small bites. With a friend, two different tastings, managed to taste a lot of wines. I believe my favorites were Lyman ranch Chenin and “the vicar”.

2022 Trousseau Gris
2022 Vermentino
2022 chenin blanc Lyman ranch
2022 blanc party
2021 Chardonnay Sonoma coast
2022 chenin blanc alder springs
2022 Pinot blanc Dutton ranch
2020 the vicar Grenache Mourvèdre
2020 Syrah grizzly peak

Occidental to Bodega bay. Hard but rewarding ride.


Wednesday - Day 4 of backroads

Some of the most incredible scenery of the whole trip. Up the coast and along the Russian River. Redwoods for lunch. Tasting at Gracianna along the route - wines were ok, no standouts. Got to Healdsburg in the afternoon. Tasted at Lioco. Wines were generally quite good, but nothing grabbed me at the price point they were at. They almost had too many to keep track of - this can be a downside. I would definitely go for a Lioco at a restaurant - but didn’t feel the need to buy any. I liked the Casa Seca and Tidal Break chardonnays best. And Saveria Pinot.


2022 rose
2022 Chardonnay
2021 resilience pinot noir
2021 west side Pinot noir
2021 resilience Zinfandel


2022 Cortese
2021 Chardonnay tidal break vineyard
2021 Chardonnay skycrest vineyard
2019 Pinot noir Kiser vineyard
2021 carignan
2022 rose ojo de perdiz
2021 Chardonnay kimari vineyard
2021 Chardonnay casa seca vineyard
2021 Pinot noir severia vineyard
2022 rose of carignan
2015 Demuth Chardonnay

Before dinner, Gianna from Wander Must talked about her wines. She brought a Verdelho and a rose she had done as a commission that had a spicy pepper element. Fun discussion, would have liked to try her other wines. The pepper wine didn’t do it for me - not prominent enough to be worth doing in the first place, IMO.

Dinner at the Matheson. Local wine pairing. 2003 Meeker Tutu luna was fabulous with foie gras, as was Andremily Mourvèdre with duck. Other wines / courses were fine but not great. Late harvest zin really didn’t do much for me for dessert.

2019 Wander Must Verdelho
Love bites (spicy rose)

2021 freestone- occidental Pinot noir
2021 Arbe Garbe Malvasia
2003 Meeker tutu Luna late harvest CB, muscat, Gewurz
2020 Andremily Mourvèdre
Late harvest zin

Thursday - day 5 of backroads

Dry creek. Lunch at Hawkes. Really nice surprise. Loved chardonnay and cabs were quite nice as well. Back to Healdsburg. Almost couldn’t muster one more tasting, but was happy we decided to stop in Aeris. Neat side by side sonoma/etna comparison for both white and red. Nice wines. Then tried Nebbiolo from Sonoma, really pleasantly surprised. Really very good. May buy some.


2022 Chardonnay
2020 merlot
2019 Cabernet
2018 pyramid vineyard Cabernet


2018 Bianco centennial mountain
2018 Etna Bianco
2018 Nerello Mascalese Sonoma
Nerello Mascalese Etna
2018 bricco rosso Sonoma
2019 Nebbiolo Sonoma

Red eye home, skipped final morning of biking (no desire left even if I had stayed!). JetBlue Mint is awesome.

That’s all I’ve got. Not nearly as polished as what some of you write - still hopefully interesting for someone!


Great report. Thank you.

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Oh, adding - at the Schrader party, the 2016 RBS was my favorite by far. Old Sparky was very good, just not thrilling / based on this taste not something I would buy at the premium they ask for it. The 2021 Schraders all kind of ran together, probably too young to really form a good opinion. The HWC I thought really stood up well (especially thinking it was quite a bit lower price but only afterwards realizing I was thinking of Highest Beauty… and/or they have raised prices since the offer I saw 6-12 months ago)

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Great trip report, Frank at Rivers-Marie is a great dude (He makes his own wine as well). Great picks on your week!

You’ve given me some wonderful ideas, thank you. I’ve always been leery to cycle and visit wineries, knowing my own inertia is likely to kick in after a good wine tasting. How often was the wine occurring mid-day, with more riding to come?

great read. thanks for sharing.

For me I never needed/planned to do all the biking - on a lot of days I never really had any desire to do more in the afternoon, especially on days where the best routes fell in the morning and the afternoon just felt like more for the sake of more.

Lunch day 1 was a restaurant with as much mediocre wine as you might want.
Day 2, picnic at a winery - theoretically a tasting, but only 3 wines with small pours.
Day 3 lunch on your own - I tasted beer and wine, could have just had lunch. Felt fine biking what was probably the hardest segment of the trip (from Occidental up and over the mountains to the coast) - I did get a “boost” in the van from Sebastopol to Occidental.
Day 4 picnic had some alcohol options, didn’t drink much. Tasting along the route was within a few miles of Healdsburg, the destination for the night.
Day 5 Hawkes was probably my favorite lunch tasting. But again I just had no desire to get back on the bike, it was 95 degrees and I had already done something like 25 miles.

With the intinerary, on a lot of days they will say “if you want to go to the spa make an appointment after 3pm (or whenever)” which for me was code for “if you want to do a tasting…”


Sounds like a great trip. Some new to me producers in that mix, enjoyed reading!

Sheeeeeeeeeeeeiiitttttttt! You killed it.