Most of the descriptions that I rely on when describing wine come from my childhood. This makes sense because when you experience a scent for the first time, your brain links it to an event, a person or even a moment.
Most of the new scents we experience occur in childhood. The smell of snapped green beans, the dark and fertile dirt on a beet, and warm, fresh-picked blackberries that flood your mouth with tangy sweetness, a scent that comes from helping my grandmother do her summer canning in Healdsburg, Calif., on McDonough Heights Road. Back then, Healdsburg was a sleepy little town that has now blossomed into one of California's most charming wine destinations.
There's nothing better than strolling around the town center and enjoying the tasting rooms of acclaimed producers such as Seghesio, Ferrari-Carano, Murphy-Goode and Kendall-Jackson. You also can venture out of town to take a winery tour and tasting at Rodney Strong, J Vineyards & Winery, Jordan or BR Cohn. What makes Sonoma so interesting is the number of small producers that make wine.
There are so many great stories about what inspires people to start a winery, and Bertapelle Cellars is no exception. After years of welcoming people to their Haydon Inn Bed & Breakfast and a stint with a start-up winery, Dick Bertapelle's dream of owning a winery came true.
He partnered with Mike Griffin and winemaker Michael Talty to make his dream a reality. They currently offer eight different labels, including sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, petit sirah and five different zinfandels. For decades, zinfandel was thought to be indigenous to the United States.
It was then theorized that as people migrated to northern California, they brought Primativo vines from their homeland in the Apulia region of southern Italy, but the translation to zinfandel was not determined. Recently, it was discovered that zinfandel is in fact Crljenak Kaštelanski from Croatia.
To make great wine, you have to start with great fruit. The 2009 Bertapelle Cellars "Talty Vineyard" Zinfandel from Dry Creek is made from grapes grown on the estate vineyard of the winemaker, Michael Talty.
It has aromas and flavors of black and red fruit with cedar and baking spices. There is a touch of dried flowers on the nose and a mouthful of macerated fruit that finishes with enough acidity to make your mouth water. I wish I could tell you where to buy this little lovely, but it's not heavily distributed outside of California due to the limited case production.
However, you can enjoy these wines at the Historic Smithville Inn 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, where they will feature a four-course dinner with Bertapelle Cellars. Dick Bertapelle will be on hand to answer your questions. Seats are limited, and reservations are required. Tickets are $69.95 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, go to SmithvilleInn.com.
Now you can enjoy a little sip of Sonoma right here in your own backyard. Cheers!
Anjoleena Griffin-Holst is Wine Director at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa since March 2006 and is the only female wine director at a casino-resort in the United States. She helped establish Borgata's reputation for its impressive wine selection, which includes more than 40,000 bottles and recently received four separate Best of Award of Excellence and two Award of Excellence by Wine Spectators 2011 Restaurant Awards. Her column will run every other week.