Great Tastes

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Patz & Hall, Sonoma

Author: Sarah Treseler
October, 2016 Issue

The Sonoma House at Patz & Hall
21200 Eighth Street East
Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: 707-931-2440
 
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Monday by appointment. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tasting Fees: $30-$75, depending on experience chosen.
Wines Currently Offered: Six single vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
Reservations: Required
Picnics: No
Pets: No
 
Did you know? Patz & Hall started as a Napa Winery.
 
The Sonoma House at Patz & Hall, first opened as a tasting room in January 2014, isa modern, pueblo-style abode located just off the main road and painted a cheerful sunbaked yellow. The front of the property is sprawling and open, with neat landscaping and tall front windows. According to founder Heather Patz, the property was originally a private home.
 
The house has a cool, off-white interior, white stone counters and walls adorned in eye-catching black and white photographs. Through the back doors, a terrace opens up onto a wide green lawn, bordered by arched walkways and ending in vineyards—all surrounded by the picturesque Mayacamas Mountains.
 
Patz & Hall was founded in 1988 by Donald and Heather Patz, James Hall and Anne Moses, four individuals with a passion for wine. “We fell in love with a certain style of winemaking; small lot, barrel fermented, Burgundian style winemaking, both for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,” says Heather Patz. “This is our 29th harvest, and we’ve stayed true to our passion and the style of wine we like. What’s changed over the years is where the fruit is coming from. Most of our grapes are now sourced from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Carneros AVAs.”
 
Upon arrival, we sample the 2012 Brut Sparkling from the North Coast. It’s pleasantly bright, sharp and not too bubbly, making for a real treat. Patz says sparkling wine is relatively new for the winery and it’s used uniquely as a welcome wine, but a sparkling rosé is also in the works.
 
The Salon Tasting experience features six wines; three Chardonnays and three Pinot Noirs, paired with four canapés by La Saison, finishing with a dark chocolate truffle by Le Belge Chcolatier. The 2013 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay is lemony on the nose, with a delicate mouthfeel and a floral finish. The first canapé, a crispy wonton with French onion and tobiko, is pleasantly tart and bitter. The 2013 Alder Springs Chardonnay has a strong mineral nose, a rich body and a clean finish. It paired nicely with a smoked trout tuile with black pepper and fennel, which had a satisfyingly complex taste. The 2014 Gold Rock Ridge Chardonnay has grapefruit on the nose, a surprisingly soft mouthfeel and a finish that pops.
 
The 2013 Burnside Vineyard Pinot Noir was my favorite of the day, featuring a rich, earthy nose with hints of blueberry and leather, a round mouthfeel and a lingering finish. Along with it, the pork nacho on forbidden rice canapé is balanced and flavorful. Then there’s the 2013 Moses Hall Pinot Noir, with a sweet cherry nose, a spicy midpalate and a silky finish. The short rib torchon canapé with huckleberry is deep yet sweet. Finally, the 2013 Chenoweth Ranch Pinot Noir has aromas of cranberry and raspberry, a deep, woodsy mouthfeel and a smoky finish. Says Patz, “This one is always my Thanksgiving wine.” The dessert chocolate truffle with salted caramel pairs excellently with the final Pinot Noir.
 
In addition to the Salon Tasting, the winery offers a bar tasting, a 45-minute experience that includes two Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs. An Appellation Series Tasting offers two Pinot Noirs and two Chardonnays, along with a locally sourced cheese plate. Then there’s a Grower’s Series, where local growers talk about their vineyard and the resulting wines. Patz says, “For those who want more access to the site, the vineyard and the grower, it’s a great experience.”
 
Patz & Hall has about 2,000 wine club members and is known for its release parties, wine pick-up parties and its annual feast of lobster and wine. It’s recently opened up its patio terrace for special events. “I think what makes our wines so special is the site they’re from and who’s farming them,” says Patz. “These are proven sites. When we started, some of these vineyards were fairly young, but now they’re 20 to 40 years old. It has to do with the soil—how it’s oriented to the sun, to the fog line, whether it’s dry farmed or irrigated. And then James [Hall, winemaker] nurtures these grapes through the whole process and lets them express themselves. Just like raising a child, you don’t want to squish their spirit, you want to bring them along and let their personalities come out.”

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