Here in Sonoma County, spring is evident by the vivid landscape of wild mustard showing gold beneath the dark trunks of grapevines. A feast for the eyes and the vines, this shimmering sea of yellow will soon be turned to mulch, sometimes with the help of the Wooly Weeders (you need to see these cuties in action!). This time of year, when the air is fragrant with spring blooms, is the perfect time to enjoy those wines with equally expressive bouquets.
Gundlach Bundschu sits on a picturesque parcel at the crossroads between Napa and Sonoma. The historic Rhinefarm produces some classic wines, including the aromatic Gewurztraminer [guh-vertz-TRA-MEAN-ner] with honeysuckle, pear, and grapefruit aromas and flavors. Aromatic white wines are also fun to use as an ingredient or embellishment to a dish, and Gewurz is perfect for spicy foods. For example, pair this with any Asian spicy salad and see how it complements.
As the days get longer and the wines get lighter, that doesn’t mean you need to forego reds completely. A cool climate Pinot Noir is a classic, elegant spring wine, and Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir is one of my go-to wines from Oregon. Try one of their single vineyard Pinot’s, or go with the delicious Evolution Pinot paired with grilled pork topped with cherry sauce.
With their delicate yet tart flavors spring vegetables can be challenging to pair with wines, but young and sweet asparagus, either simply prepared, or tossed into a quiche, is lovely with St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc. Its pink grapefruit, green guava and fennel characteristics offer just enough fruit and acidity to complement the brightness of spring produce without overwhelming it. The winery is also hosting a weekly “virtual” wine tasting with the winemaker through April.
Always a favorite and must-see small winery in Sonoma, Iron Horse Vineyards features an array of sparkling wines produced in the Champagne Method, or méthode champenoise, which exceed the French standards for vintage quality. One of my favorites is their flagship Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut with aromas of rising dough, orange marmalade and mandarin orange on the palate. Bonus: right now, they’re offering $1 shipping on 6 or more bottles.
I know you’re waiting for it so of course I’ve included a Rosé on the list. Basically, a staple for spring and summer, check out a zesty, fruit-forward rosé from the Pacific Northwest. The L’Ecole No. 41 “Alder Ridge” from Washington is Grenache based with pretty aromas of rose and strawberry that jump out of the glass. PNW rosé wines offer a lot of acidity, perfect for those spring harvest vegetables.
If you’d like to explore some wines outside of the U.S., consider discovering fun and flirty white wines like Torrontes and Muscat de Alexandria (Zibbibo). For reds, try a refreshing Lambrusco, earthy Nerello Mascalese, the obscure Bonarda, and blends from Languedoc-Roussillon that won’t break the bank, giving Côtes du Rhône a viable competitor. Prepare meals from these regions and travel virtually for a Spring break in the comforts of your own home.
There are many wine clubs and wine delivery services that offer a range of styles and wines. As the weeks continue in quarantine, some of their services may be adjusted or their inventory might dwindle. The wines listed here can ship directly to you (in most states, where legal) or have a good chance of being available in your favorite wine shop so that you may continue to support your local retailers. Many wineries in the U.S. are also offering some fabulous shipping discounts.