8 Wineries Impacted by the Kincade Fire You Can Support Online
As Sonoma's wineries struggle, we can help alleviate their financial burden by buying their wines.
In 2017, the Tubbs Fire caused an estimated $1.2 billion loss for Santa Rosa, with 5 percent of the city’s housing stock destroyed, and an additional $100 million in fire suppression expense. The Camp Fire of 2018, the most destructive wildfire in our state’s history, was also that year’s costliest natural disaster worldwide. And while the Kincade fire destroyed only a few wineries, many more were impacted in some way, including loss of tourist dollars. One way to help these places rebound: shop for wine online. Here are some wineries that sustained fire damage and could use consumer support.
This Healdsburg winery has been operated by the Wetzel family since 1962 and covers over 700 acres. It offers a vast selection of wines and three different shipping plans with various membership benefits: the Estate Club, the Alexander School Reserve Club and the Cabernet Club.
Alexander Valley’s vintage of rosé of Sangiovese is gentle and dry with perfumes of red cherry, grapefruit and minerality. The Cabernet Franc is full of black cherry, pepper and distinct herbal qualities like anise, tarragon and thyme.
Founded by Fred Furth in 1972, this 1,300-acre Healdsburg winery property features 300 acres of vineyards along with wilderness areas, a hospitality center, a culinary garden, a residence, stables, an equestrian pavilion, sports fields, fishing and swimming ponds and guesthouses.
This is a great opportunity to explore Viognier, with its intriguing nuances of Honeycrisp apple, peaches and banana.
Another Healdsburg winery, Field Stone produces a wide assortment of reds — cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and sangiovese — as well as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, viognier and dessert wines.
The winery is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and century-old vine Petite Sirah. Field Stone also has handcrafted quantities of other low-production wines: Sangiovese, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay, Rosé of Sangiovese and Vintage Port. Recently, they’ve introduced a new Convivio companion wine, made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this companion wine if donated to Clinica Alianza, a nonprofit medical center serving farmworkers and their families in Sonoma County.
The winery has been owned and operated by husband and wife Karin Warnelius-Miller and Justin Miller since 2001, but its family history dates back to 1969. Miller’s father was also one of the founders of the Alexander Valley AVA in 1984.
The winery’s flagship wine is Tesserae, a tiny-production, proprietary Bordeaux blend that’s highly allocated and aged seven years before release. With Cabernet Sauvignon typically dominant, it adds in Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The Scheurebe, also allocated, is a rare white grape related to Riesling. The Warnelius-Millers are only the second vineyard in California to grow it (Joseph Phelps is the other; it makes an ice wine from it called Eisrebe).
In 1963, Robert Young was the first to plant cabernet sauvignon in the Alexander Valley and to propagate the now-famous Chardonnay Clone 17. But that was just the beginning. In 1997, Fred Young founded the Robert Young Estate Winery with the blessing of his father and the help of siblings JoAnn, Susan and Jim. All four still work and live on the ranch.
The Chardonnays, while unsatisfying, should be tried — if only as an exercise in understanding the extremes this variety can reach in California. The reds, too, taste overripe on the whole, but the Cabernet Sauvignons seem to improve in quality as you get to their higher range. Their Scion Cabernet shows the most elegance and potential.
This family-owned winery began producing classic Bordeaux varietals in the Alexander Valley in 2001. A decade later the winery expanded its winemaking to include cool-climate varietals from the Sonoma Coast.
While you’d assume the reds would be the breadwinners, their whites are actually pretty darn likeable. The Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and clean with expressions of white peach, orange blossom and lilac. Moving further south, the Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay is unfiltered and presents creamy hints of pear, pineapple and lemon curd within its round body and zesty finish.
A 200-acre estate in Geryserville, Skipstone is nestled between two hillsides above the Alexander Valley. Its signature wines and premium olive oils are released on an allocation basis biannually.
The Skipstone portfolio consists of a Viognier, as well as two reds — the Cabernet Sauvignon-focused Oliver’s Blend and the Cabernet Franc-based Faultline. Of those, the Viognier takes the prize. It’s a broad wine of texture that escapes the soapier flavors some California Viogniers can have. Both the reds taste a bit oak-dominant. They favor the Oliver’s Blend — a decadent Cabernet with smoky, ripe red fruit flavor.
Although Soda Rock, in the heart of Alexander Valley, is primarily a Cabernet house, they offer 20 different reds and blends, including an increasing number of Zinfandels. Being part of the Wilson Artisan winery stable gives them access to fruit from a variety of AVAs.
Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction, and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is a never-ending endeavor.