Comstock wasn’t originally on my radar. In fact, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar up until a few years ago. These days I tend to spend more time in the northern end of the valley, which would lead me to exit off of Canyon or Lytton Springs road. So even when Comstock appeared, I pretty much didn’t know of its existence because I wasn’t even passing it. Then one day, on my way from the 101 over to Nalle Winery, there it was. Big, bold, with doors open, ready to welcome in thirsty patrons. I thought, heck, I’m a thirsty patron. I’m in.
On approach, this building is large. It seems as if it could hold hundreds and hundreds of wine tasters. But once I parked and walked inside, the feeling switched to a much more intimate scene. Most of the building is where the actual winemaking takes place. Shocking, I know. I’d say about a fourth of the building is composed of the tasting room.
When I was there last, at least two bachelorette parties were going on. Comstock happily set up various tasting tables outside of the main tasting room to account for the larger-than-normal volume of people tasting at that given time. And while the various women were roaming around outside, the tasting room still was cozy and intimate.
The larger amount of space, from the walkway through the inside/outside foyer was set up with one large table and what seemed like 20 women, with another one under a semi-covered awning. Like with many wineries, be sure to call if you’re expecting a group larger than 6-8 people. That will give wineries like Comstock a chance to set up and staff your tasting party, giving you the best experience possible.
The tasting room features a long bar that looks out to a few small tables outside, a bocce ball court and the grapevines. Behind the tasting counter is a very well laid out assortment of bottles. To the left a few photos of grapevines and to the right, an oversized Comstock logo and specials chalk board. The tasting room is one part rustic and two parts modern.
Tasting consists of two options: the classic flight and the Zinfandel flight (we are in Dry Creek after all). If you’re looking for a sampling of different varietals, from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, to Pinot Noir and, wait for it, Zinfandel; go in that direction. I really liked the fact that the various varietals came from their respective regions: Pinot & Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast, Zinfandel from Dry Creek & Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. Those varietals grow really well in those regions. If you’re looking for the mother lode of Zinfandel, enter stage right (I bet the staff never hears that phrase).
The Zinfandel tasting is an excellent opportunity to see how Dry Creek & nearby regions affect the taste of the same grape. Comstock even has grapes from Rockpile, a relatively new region north of Dry Creek, up near Lake Sonoma. No tasting rooms, just grapes. But a really good region for growing. If you’re into Zinfandel, this tasting list is for you. It’s a great flight of just one grape. And the tasting staff is ready to answer any question on America’s’ patron grape.
The tastings run $15 for the classic and $25 for the Zinfandel, both waived with purchase of 3 bottles. It’s a fair price for the fact that many of the bottles are in the hundreds of cases, not the thousands or tens of thousands. That small case production means there is attention to detail that can’t be given when on a macro level.
Given that Comstock sits on the valley floor, the grapes are not too far away. It also means there isn’t much natural shade if you want to take in a game of bocce ball in the summertime. You can also take in a game of cornhole (yes, that’s what it’s called) if the bocce ball court is occupied. The rules of cornhole are about as easy as bocce. Simply toss a bean bag into a hole on an inclined sloped surface. One point if you land on the board, two if it’s leaning on the hole and 3 if you get it in the hole. I swear any wine-related game can’t contain too tough of instructions. Sorry Risk fans.
A handful of tables sit around the property, giving you a great location to bring a lunch from nearby. Some seat two, while others seat 4-6. The smaller tables would be a great if you’re bringing a date as it leads to a slightly more intimate experience. With any of the wines, you’re free to buy the bottle and enjoy it on the estate, throwing the bocce ball around or just kicking back with your date and trying to deduce just how old old-vine Zinfandel must be in order to be called “old vine” (hint: there isn’t a minimum age).
For a great round-the-region sampling of Zinfandel and an excellent place to kick back with a glass and a sandwich from the general store or Big Jim’s (both located minutes away), head over to Comstock Wines.