Am I at a winery or at someone’s house? How comfortable are these couches and chairs outside? How incredibly beautiful is the large sculpture of a horse? Is this real? Yep. Welcome to Stonestreet.
There are two locations to taste Stonestreet’s wines. The first is the downtown Healdsburg location. The second, and more highly recommend is out off of Hwy 128 in the Alexander Valley. It’s worth the drive. Come to think of it, it’s only about a 10-15 minute drive out of Healdsburg.
Turning onto the property, you’re immediately flanked by a long row of trees on both sides of the driveway. Going on for nearly a half mile, you feel like you’re being transported to a dreamlike destination. Keep the feeling going because you kind of are. I think this is one of the longest driveways in the valley. After going, and going down the road, you come up to the large building on the hill. What you may or may not realize is the elevation gradually inclines putting you on a slight hill.
After parking, you’ll make your way up another slight incline to the tasting lawn and patio. I think there might be a place to taste inside but honestly I wouldn’t even suggest it (though I kinda just did). The winery is built to taste outside.
A slew of wooden tables are found on the lawn, seating up to about 6-8. Large umbrellas can be opened if it gets too hot on a summer day. Back about 15 feet are a series of large couches and chairs. Even larger umbrellas encompass those, which sit about 5-6 people (depending upon how close you want to sit).
While I was there it wasn’t too crowded, it wouldn’t hurt to make a reservation. There aren’t that many seats out on the property and I would call ahead to ensure you get the best spot possible.
I often take the long sofa chairs as the padded seats are a perfect spot to kick back and gaze endlessly at the rolling hills that encompass the Alexander Valley. During the springtime, the hills are filled with a sea of green. The remaining months are where California got its name from—the Golden State, as the hills turn the most beautiful and majestic golden brown.
Once my tasting party picked up their jaws from admiring the view, the tasting staff came out and set up our tasting, starting with a Sauvignon Blanc. In addition to the wine and wine glass, a helpful sheet of the five wines we would be tasting was presented to us, somewhat of a placemat. The staff also brought out a pitcher of water and glasses.
The tasting consisted of the aforementioned Sauvignon Blanc along with two Chardonnays and two Cabernet Sauvignons. During each tasting of the various wines, the staff pointed out both where it was on the opposing mountain range we were looking at (I admit it is easier to spot the vineyards when the rest of the mountain slopes are golden brown) and how high in elevation the corresponding grapes were.
Elevation plays a huge role in both temperature and soil conditions. A 200-400 foot change in elevation, on the same hillside can have a dramatic difference on the way the grapes grow, are affected, and what they produce.
The tasting sheet also lets you know the price and the corresponding wine points the wines received. While normally I scoff at wine points, they do give you an indication of what Robert Parker, the most famous wine critic out there today, thought of the wines. Use it as a guide, but remember that your taste buds are your taste buds. That 95pt wine might not be what you consider 95pts.
The tasting staff is impeccable with their service. They seem to know just how long it takes for you to finish the wine and to go back to admiring the view, before they come back out with the next one.
The winery also features a charcuterie, cheese and nuts plate. Given that we were tasting later in the day (one of the last seatings actually), it was a welcomed addition to give your palate something in addition to wine. All of the meats and cheeses were mellow and didn’t overwhelm your palate, leaving room for the wines to shine.
The tasting out on the patio of the Alexander Valley location is $30. While at first it seems a little high, the ambiance and quality of the wine more than make up for it. It’s one of the few wineries that has such an expansive view of the mountains, one of the only ones where you can kick back on a giant sofa chair outside and relax with a glass of chardonnay in your hand.