I just got back from a fantastic extended weekend in San Francisco! A few years ago my little sister left me in NYC to relocate to the West Coast. It’s been difficult not seeing her as often as I would like. Now that my nephew has been born it was time to jump on a plane to see her and meet my new nugget! Normally when I visit San Fran I would be spending several days in wine country, trying to cram as many wineries in per day as we could. However, the focus of the trip this time around was on family time and sightseeing in the city center. My sister is a member of the Foley Sonoma Wine Club. With that membership you have access to sixteen of their sister wineries for tours and tastings in California, Oregon, and Washington State. We decided to do one afternoon of tastings and drove to Chalk Hill Estate Winery and Roth Estate Winery (blog on Roth coming soon).
Chalk Hill Estate Winery is a picturesque 1300 acre property located close to Healdsburg in Sonoma County. This highly acclaimed winery has been making wine for over forty years and was purchased in 2010 by Bill Foley, who since 1996 has been snapping up wineries both here in the US, and also in New Zealand. For any hockey fans reading this (like my hubby) he is also the owner of the Vegas Golden Knights. Last year his youngest daughter Courtney Foley was promoted to Head Winemaker at Chalk Hill, continuing the focus on sustainable vineyard practices and producing wines that truly exemplify their place. There are approximately 350 acres dedicated to growing grapes for their Estate wines and they also source many other grape varietals from various vineyard sites around Sonoma County. Chalk Hill is known for their Chardonnay but they also produce wines with many other grape varietals, some of which include: Malbec, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Indigenous yeasts are used and the wines see both new and used French oak (stainless steel for the whites).
Our tasting experience was the Chairman’s Reserve Tasting Flight for $30 per person and is waived with membership or a bottle purchase. The tasting began with a welcome glass of 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé followed by:
2017 Sauvignon Blanc: 65% French Oak (14% new) / 35% Stainless Steel/ barrel aging: 7 months
2017 Wright Creek Chardonnay: 100% Chardonnay / 14.9% alcohol /100% French Oak (73% new) / barrel aging: 12 months / 250 cases
2015 Syrah: 100% Syrah / 15.4% alcohol / 100% French Oak (80% new) / barrel aging: 21 months / 380 cases
2015 Clara’s Vineyard: a Bordeaux style blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot / 100% French Oak (89% new) / barrel aging: 21 months
As a bridge between the Chardonnay and the Syrah we went off menu and tasted a Pinot Noir which I didn’t take notes on. The standouts for me in this tasting were the Rosé, Wright Chardonnay, and the Syrah. I purchased half a case consisting of these three wines. I really enjoyed the Pinot and was planning on buying a bottle, but I changed my mind at the last minute and added more Syrah to my order. My least favorite wine in the tasting was the Sauvignon Blanc. I didn’t dislike it, I just prefer French and New Zealand expressions of that grape.
I was very impressed with the service we received at Chalk Hill Estate Winery. In May they changed to an appointment only format of which we were unaware. They were somewhat busy even though it was early, and they accommodated our large group without making us feel awkward or unwelcome. If you are looking for quality wines, attentive service, and stunning vineyard views for your tasting experience then I recommend a visit to Chalk Hill!