After finishing up at the first North American Wine Bloggers Conference last week in Santa Rosa, I took the Dude-le and hit the road for a few well-deserved appointments in Napa and Sonoma wine country.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the WBC, and had me a great time. Friendships were made. Wine was shared. Livers were… well, let’s not go there. But… after three days I was looking forward to spending some family QT and hopping around wine country in the sunshine.
It’s always a pleasure to visit such a beautiful area (though everything is still a bit too green out there for my tastes, and I missed the vibrant orange, yellow, and deep auburn hues of Autumn on the Right Coast), but we’ve been there… well… lots of times. So we needed something different to keep our relationship with Northern CA fresh.
Enter Kaz Winery and ACME Fine Wines to the rescue…
Kaz Winery (and its little brother, Bodega Bay Port Works) is the wine-making incubus of the irrepressible Richard Kasmier (a.k.a., “Kaz”) in Kenwood, about 10 miles outside of Santa Rosa.
Kaz has been making wine in his small, family-owned property for a long time, and he’s also the co-host of Wine Biz Radio, a somewhat-serious / somewhat-comedic and irreverent take on all things wine business related in Northern CA (it’s also available online as a weekly podcast of its KSVY 91.3 radio show).
The great thing about Kaz (the winery, not the man, though Kaz is a great and entertaining fellow) is that the wines are so different from what you normally find in Sonoma: tasty, high in refreshing acidity, long on approachability, and lower on the alcohol (typically between 13 and 14% abv). This was a nice change (for me) from a weekend full of Dry Creek Wines that: were tasty, low in refreshing acidity, short on approachability, and had so much alcohol that I wondered whether or not they were trying to kill me via alcohol blood poisoning. Anyway, Kaz is a bit off the beaten path in Sonoma, but well worth the side-trip.
The following day, we met up with a friend of 1WineDude.com in St. Helena, who was kind enough to show us around town (thanks, Kimberly!) and introduce us to another irrepressible character, Erin Sullivan over at ACME Fine Wines. Erin is a trained Sommelier and clearly knows her stuff about the local wine scene.
The great thing about ACME is that they have deep cuts of the local wine scene, and specialize in the tasty wine “side projects” of talented, well-known winemakers – usually limited quantity wines that are high on tastiness, and run anywhere from $20 to $200.
I was impressed with the wines on display, all hand-selected by the ACME staff, and spent a good deal of time picking Erin’s brain on some of the lesser known (to me, anyway) labels. If you’re looking for something different in the world of CA wine (and for a break off the beaten path in the Napa area), ACME is well worth the visit. You can check out the selection (and place some orders) at ACMEFineWines.com.