Brion Tasting Room
Housed in a once-dilapidated barn dating to 1876 (comprised of nearly 90 percent whitewashed redwood), the Brion tasting room and production facility was more than four years in the making. Surrounded by 100-year-old olive trees, the bucolic 46-acre property is a harmonious blend of old and new replete with French oak barrels and a gallery-esque tasting room outfitted by designer Ronda Wise (wife of owner Brion Wise.) Sample Brion’s four cabernet sauvignon wines from three appellations al fresco on a lightly shaded patio or venture inside the painstakingly restored barn for a well-edited mix of curiosities and artwork. Special pieces include a pair of oversized canvases by Mexican surrealist artist Armando Martinez, animal-print armchairs, gilded table lamps and a retro, banana-hued rotary telephone.
Rootdown Wine Cellars Tasting Room
In Healdsburg, winemaker and owner Mike Lucia has opened Rootdown Wine Cellars Tasting Room, a shared tasting room (with Leo Steen Wines) aptly dubbed The Drink. Designed by Lucia’s wife, Jill Shadek, the sleek space—showcasing wines by Rootdown, Cole Ranch and Es Okay Wines—is adorned with a wall mural by artist Naomi Mcleod and tables and benches constructed using reclaimed beams from a nearby winery. “The space was already a very cool space when we moved in, and it has an industrial feel with the exposed brick and vents in the ceiling,” says Shadek. “We were just trying to keep it simple and let the industrial vibe of the space speak for itself.”
Quail & Condor
Husband-and-wife culinary duo Melissa Yanc and Sean McGaughey (she’s a former Food Network baking champ; he’s a chef) have debuted a Healdsburg-based bakery, Quail & Condor, with a seasonal selection of sweet and savory confections. Kumquat and vanilla bean scones, blood orange morning buns, naturally leavened breads like apricot walnut Champagne and oat porridge and sandwiches are on offer. “Sean and I consider it an extension of our home and feel like we are hosting people for breakfast and lunch,” says Yanc. “We are inspired by California, dedicated to hard work and powered by the community.”
More than 20 years ago, the team behind celebrated Australian winemaker Penfolds started exploring new terrain/terroir in the Northern Hemisphere, specifically the bountiful soils of California, with an ambition to create a new range of wines. This year, the brand will finally unveil the fruits of its labor (pun intended) with the debut of four new Californian wines. “The wines made in California pay respect to California terroir, yet one thing remains overtly consistent…the red Penfolds stamp,” says Penfolds’ chief winemaker, Peter Gago. “We will have the Californian sun above and soil beneath, but everything in between will be Penfolds.”
The fruit for the four new wines were sourced from vines in regions like Oakville and Rutherford. Grapes were also sourced from Camatta Hills in Paso Robles. The resulting inaugural wines are: 2018 Quantum Bin 98 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018 Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018 Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz. “Crossing hemispheres happens to future-proof the brand, but our original motivations were very much embedded in curiosity,” says Penfolds senior winemaker Stephanie Dutton. “We have to ask ourselves what’s next and innovative in the industry and what’s new to us as a team.” The area’s diverse approach to winemaking and growing has its roots in French viticulture. “When we went to check in on these Australian vines in California, one aspect that was important to us was ageability,” says Dutton. “That’s a big part of our DNA, and Napa Valley was a fit with our fine wine portfolio and philosophy. The last thing we wanted to do was land in California and do everything exactly as we do it in Australia,” says Dutton.