The Comstock Experience

Turning into the entrance of Comstock Wines, I noticed The Residence at Comstock Wines behind the winery. I had been looking forward to this two-day getaway for months, especially after having a tough January with the death of my mother and off and on respiratory illness.

I met the concierge, Erin, in the winery, and then I followed her to the residence to check in and get my key. She gave me a rundown of how everything worked and gave me a brief tour of the residence. I could hardly contain my excitement at the thought of spending two days here. If there had been food, I would have never left. I kept thinking I should have stopped at a grocery store on the way. However, that would have been too much work. I was here to relax and take in the experience.

After Erin left, I was the only one at the residence as the other guests were out, so I took the opportunity to take photos. My master bedroom was beautifully decorated and included a fireplace, a sitting area, a work desk, and a welcome bottle of wine.

I have a thing for bathrooms and bathroom fixtures and the one that was a part of my master bedroom was nothing short of amazing, with both a spa bath and a separate shower. Similar to a high-end hotel, amenities such as a hair dryer, toiletries, and luxurious towels were included.

I ventured into the shared living spaces, the living room, the kitchen, and the media room on the second floor. The spaces were bright, modern, and spacious, with lots of natural light. They were impeccably clean, furnished, and meticulously well appointed.

Since I did not have food to prepare, I had asked Erin for dinner recommendations. Being the consummate concierge, she was a wealth of information and delighted to assist me. I told her I wanted something less expensive and touristy, so she directed me to Campo Fina, where I was able to sit at the bar in the patio outside and eat without a reservation. There, I enjoyed people watching and found something delicious and healthy to eat on the menu, Nonna’s Tomato Braised Chicken with sautéed Swiss chard and polenta, and splurged on a house cocktail, Plush, with Calle 23 Tequila Reposado, agave, pomegranate seeds, and Meyer lemon and lime juice.

After dinner, I walked to John & Zeke’s Bar, a local hangout, where the patrons had been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since early morning. I had a half of a pint of Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA. I debated staying longer, but the sun was setting and the residence was calling.

I arrived back to the residence just in time to enjoy a beautiful display of Mother Nature’s glory, a cloud-laden sky at dusk. The only light in the middle of the impending darkness was the orange glow of the residence. I walked the perimeter of the property, snapping photos right and left. I didn’t want to go inside, but I also didn’t want to unexpectedly stumble upon vineyard creatures of the night.

Then I remembered the fireplace! It was chilly, but not cold, probably not really cold enough for the fireplace, but I wanted to use it. I sat for hours in front of it, mesmerized by its light and warmth. Finally, I settled into one of the plush beds in my room and slept uninterrupted until daylight.

I awakened and decided to explore outdoors as well as get in a workout. Although it was damp, overcast, and cool, I covered most of the property, getting in about two miles of walking, running, and photos over the course of a few hours.

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I needed to grab lunch somewhere, so I messaged a friend of mine to ask for a recommendation and he sent me to Taqueria El Sombrero, a local favorite since 1986, which was a perfect choice: plentiful, yummy, and inexpensive. I had the huevos rancheros, which was way more than one person could eat.

Back at Comstock, I joined winemaker Chris Russi for a tasting prior to the annual winemaker dinner that evening. I have written about that tasting experience for another outlet, American Winery Guide (to be published soon), so I will not say anything more at this point other than it was splendid. I felt like I had made a new friend, not just tasted with a winemaker.

After the tasting, I had about 30 minutes to get ready for the winemaker dinner. I was told to wear cocktail attire, so I wore a new Ralph Lauren dress with black boots, which turned out to be perfect for the evening.

I joined the other dinner guests in the tasting room, where we enjoyed Comstock’s 2015 Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 Rosé, and 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir with passed appetizers. A few of the attendees noticed I was alone and introduced themselves to me.

Shortly thereafter, we gathered for a tour of the winery with Chris Russi, which led us from the tasting room, to the crush pad, to the production area, and finally to the barrel space where we would be dining.

The dinner itself was nothing short of fantastic. It included two dinner courses, a cheese course, and dessert, all paired with Comstock wines: the 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2014 Russian River Valley Zinfandel, and the 2016 Late Harvest Zinfandel. My favorite course of the night was the chardonnay with a Bodega Bay seafood chowder. The bright acidity and luscious mouthfeel of the chardonnay brought the creamy, rich chowder to life.

After dinner, I lingered to take photos. I met members of the Comstock family, including patriarch Bob Comstock. We hit it off so well that I have an open invitation to return soon.

When everyone had left except for some of the winery staff, I spent a few hours with them taking more photos and talking. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more welcomed by a winery family. The fact that they allowed me to stay with them as they cleaned up and prepared for the next day was a testament to their openness and gracious hospitality.

The next day, I didn’t want to leave. Erin allowed me to check out later than usual so I could enjoy the residence and winery a little longer. During these two days, I learned that Comstock Wines isn’t solely a great winery, but an all-inclusive wine destination experience that I will never forget. The residence, the hospitality, the winemaking, and the comradery are etched in my mind forever. After all, “we are all Comstock Wines.”

The Magic of Jordan Winery

Spring at Jordan
Spring at Jordan

Jordan Winery, now led by second-generation vintner John Jordan and winemaker Rob Davis, was established in 1972 and truly is a rock star winery. The history and prestige of Jordan has long fascinated me, especially since they only make two wines, an Alexander Valley Cabernet and a Russian River Chardonnay. It’s a testament to their winegrowing and winemaking that they’ve been successful for so long.

Raw Oysters and 2013 Chardonnay
Raw Oysters and 2013 Chardonnay

Ever since I began participating in wine social media in 2010, Jordan has been on my radar. I remember buying a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay three or four years ago to participate in a virtual tasting. Two years ago, I was invited to participate in a similar virtual tasting when I was staying in nearby Santa Rosa, but I was booked at other wineries that day and evening, so I unfortunately had to bow out. At a couple of wine bloggers’ conferences, I attended Jordan’s after parties and enjoyed the wines. In 2014 when I moved to Napa, Jordan must have had me on their radar, too, as I received an invitation to their Spring at Jordan annual release party, which I wrote about here. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was invited back to this year’s party on May 16 and I couldn’t be more honored to participate again.

Small Bites Tuna Appetizer
Small Bites Tuna Appetizer

This year’s party, themed The White Party, was even more enjoyable than the year before. The food offerings were quite astounding: luscious breads, cheeses, charcuturie, and desserts, as well as brick oven pizzas, fresh vegetables, raw oysters, caviar, tuna, and even bone marrow! The food and festivities were accompanied by a band, corn toss, Jordan’s new releases – the 2011 Cabernet and 2013 Chardonnay – and a few wines from their library collection. As much as I enjoyed all of the wines, the one that really stood out for me was the 2013 Chardonnay. I was smitten at the first sip.

2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River
2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River

The 2013 Chardonnay, sporting Jordan’s new label, is a beautiful example of Russian River Chardonnay and a steal at only $30. The grapes, harvested at night, come from 18 vineyard blocks east of the Russian River.  The clusters were destemmed and pressed at night. Fermentation took place for 14 days in two-thirds oak barrels and one-third stainless steel, followed by two months of sur lie aging and bâttonage. The wine was then aged six months in 100% French oak, 40% new, and bottled using Jordan’s state-of-the art bottling line. The result is the best Jordan Chardonnay I’ve tasted to date. It demonstrates layers of tree, stone, tropical, and citrus fruits – such as green apples, pears, melon, passionfruit, and lemon – and nice minerality. The mouthfeel is decadent, the acidity lively and refreshing. It paired perfectly with everything I ate at the party, even the raw oysters and caviar. I agree with Rob Davis when he says, This vintage is truly epic.

If you’d like to learn more about this vintage of Chardonnay, Jordan has created a tasting note video with Rob Davis.

Thank you to Jordan for the invitation to enjoy their hospitality, food, and wine again this year. I am looking forward to my next opportunity to experience the magic of Jordan Winery.

For more information about wine, food, and travel in Sonoma County, visit the new website, Wine Country Table, by the staff of Jordan Winery.

Cheers!
Beth

Jordan Vineyards and Winery: A Must-Visit in Sonoma County

Part of the Jordan property
Part of the Jordan property

Jordan Vineyards and Winery has a forty-two year history in Alexander Valley of Sonoma County, California. Therefore, I was both honored and thrilled to be invited as a media guest to Jordan’s annual spring release party. It’s not often that I can say I felt sort of starstruck with a winery, but Jordan has a long and fascinating history, including their wines being served at notable White House events as well as the Academy Awards.

Before attending the party, I did a bit of research about Jordan. The first thing I stumbled upon was the Jordan Estate Rewards program, which is quite different from the traditional wine club approach to customer loyalty. I immediately enrolled so that I could see how it works. Members earn points with every purchase, and at varying levels starting at 4,500 points, can redeem their points for tours, tastings, events, luncheons, dinners, and overnight stays. I already felt like a part of the winery’s family.

The Château at Jordan
The Château at Jordan

Upon arrival to the property, my immediate response was gorgeous and impeccably maintained. I believe the main building is often referred to as the château, and with good reason, as it’s truly a gem of a building set on some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen. I almost felt like I had entered another era. There was even badminton on one of the front lawns.

Just a small section of the food spread at Jordan
Just a small section of the food spread at Jordan

With regard to the party itself, this year’s theme was Paris, so food choices included such delicacies as pâté, lamb chops, raw oysters, caviar, vichyssoise, duck sliders, smoked meats, rich French cheeses, and a variety of French breads. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The current releases, the 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet and the 2012 Russian River Chardonnay, were served, along with a couple of library offerings, the 2006 Cabernet and 2007 Chardonnay. I tasted three of the four wines.

2012 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
2012 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

I had tasted a vintage of the Chardonnay previously, but this time, after more education and experience, felt like I was more equipped to offer an evaluation of the wine. I was impressed with the ageability of the 2007. It still possessed lively fruit after seven years. This is one of those wines I would say drink now, it’s at its moment to be enjoyed. The 2012 Chardonnay, which is aged in 100% French oak for 6.5 months (42% new oak) and sur-lie aged with some bâtonnage, is vibrant and fruit forward, with a creamy mouthfeel, ample acidity, and aromas and flavors of apples, pears, baking spices, and vanilla. The wine is both fined and filtered. I purchased a bottle of this wine to enjoy at a later date.

Vichyssoise with smoked salmon and caviar at Jordan
Vichyssoise with smoked salmon and caviar at Jordan

The 2010 Cabernet was equally impressive. It is aged 12 months in 74% French and 26% American oak barrels (39% new oak: 67% French, 33% American) and is aged in the bottle another 21 months. The wine composition is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec, which results in a very food-friendly wine that has aromas and flavors of dark berries and chocolate, with a nice balance of acidity and tannin. Decanting the wine prior to serving is recommended. Regretfully, I didn’t purchase this wine and now I am kicking myself. I will have to schedule a return visit soon and will take advantage of one of their varied tour options. To whet your visit appetite, please take a look at their most recent tour and tasting video:

Don’t forget to get fit for these most recent Chardonnay and Cabernet releases. Yes, the wonderful staff at Jordan have a wonderful sense of humor, too.

When you plan your trip to Sonoma County, please make sure Jordan is on your must-visit list and join their rewards program in advance so you can be part of the Jordan family upon arrival.