We enjoyed an hour and a half strolling the streets of Sonoma township in between of morning and afternoon visits… so relaxed, pretty, old town America, nice to do.
3.30pm we were greeted at the doors of Sebastiani winery by Marie Derr (international sales manager for the winery) whom we had met circa 2-years earlier on her visit to NZ, a lovely lady who was immensely helpful in helping Virginia with tour arrangements (even outside of the 3 Foley Family – FF - properties we are visiting on tour). Marie walked us over to the grape reception area then into the fermentation room and shared with us the wonderful history of this 113-year old winery founded by the Sebastiani family in 1904. There's way too much history to share in my blog (easily write 2,000+ words) but more recently (2008) it was reluctantly sold by the Sebastiani family to the Foley family (two of the three Sebastiani siblings had lost their passion for the business). It was a 1,000,000-case winery when the FF became owners, progressively they downsized production to 250,000 cases, singularly focusing on quality.
We adjourned to the tasting room and were joined by Katerina (Specialist Manger for tour groups) who steered us through a fascinating tasting of 6 Sebastiani wines.
What impressed me most was the remarkable quality and balance of the wines relative to their incredibly modest asking prices…
The entry level Chardonnay and Merlot were varietally typical, nicely made and well balanced, for $18 retail they were excellent drinking. The Reserve Patrick's Vineyard Caneros Chardonnay was very much in line with its $40 sell price as was the Alexander Valley Merlot at $29. Typical Cabernet for $18/bottle is very doable at Sebastiani and the palate was surprisingly balanced and smooth. The coup des gras was the 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet, a rich, varietally definitive, impressively made and velvety smooth Cabernet… utterly drinkable and downright cheap at US $40!
We snapped a lovely group pic with Marie on the stairs of the famous 60,000 lite cuvee at the rear of the tasting room before formally expressing our thanks to Marie and Katerina then boarding our coach for a 15-minute ride to River Inn Hotel in Napa township… our digs for the next 6-nights. A wonderful first day of the tour!