VJB Cellars Kenwood, California

VJB Cellars 60 Shaw Ave. Kenwood, CA 95452

All the elements of an Italian village; The piazza, food, wine, and family. I had researched quite a bit before our trip to Sonoma, mainly because I was so excited but also knowing our trip would not be an entire week, planning was vital for a memorable experience!

Under the travel category of my bucket list, a trip to Italy holds top billing. Experiencing Italy as if I were living there in a small village speaks to my soul, so when I discovered VJB cellars through my Sonoma trip research I knew this was a contender on my list of wineries to visit.

Created in 2012 by Henry Belmonte, his vision was to replicate a small Italian village and offer a friendly environment for the whole family so visitors would leave with a cherished memory… and of course drink some amazing Italian wines! As a child he recalls visiting a winery with his parents that welcomed the entire family so that experience became the inspiration  for VJB Cellars.

I have to say, my experience was not only memorable but educational. My knowledge of Italian wines is very limited so this wine tasting became a very informative pleasure!

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After enjoying a wonderful lunch with our guys on the piazza we ventured into VJB’s tasting room. We were greeted by Matt, a tall, dark and handsome wine educator. For $15 we sampled 5 Italian wines and a few not listed.

As Matt presented us with our tasting list, we were instructed to take notes while we sipped and listened to the story of each wine. I now have a great fondness for Italian wines, half of which I cannot pronounce! Another added bonus, VJB Cellars has compiled a list of their wines with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions, a map of Italy displaying the appellations of the wines, and a chef’s recipe for visitors to take home.

NOTE: VJB’s limited produced wine varietals are sold exclusively through the winery and they offer a wonderful wine membership, Club Enoteca. Details can be found on their website. http://www.vjbcellars.com

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This Rosso Family Blend was one of my favorite from our tasting experience. I brought home a few bottles!

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 My partner in crime, me Sweet Sis & I enjoying VJB’s piazza.imagejpeg_4 - CopyThis winery holds a very special memory in my mind so on my next trip out to the Sonoma region I will be sure to stop back in for a visit! If you want to experience a little slice of Italy while in California wine country add VJB Cellars to your trip, it will not disappoint. Ask for Matt!

Diane Rogers

 

 

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La Crema Estate @ Saralee’s Vineyard

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La Crema @ Saralee’s Vineyard 3575 Slusser Rd, Windsor, CA 95492

This was a very special day. My sister & I share the same birthday 3 years apart and I wanted to surprise her with a special day to honor the amazing woman she is and celebrate our priceless sisterhood. Her favorite wine is La Crema’s Pinot Noir. She actually turned me on to this one as I am more of a Cab/Red Blend girl but she has given me a new appreciation for Pinots thank to La Crema’s Pinot!

Through my trip research I discovered La Crema had 2 destinations in the Sonoma wine region. Located in Healdsburg is La Crema’s Tasting Room and in Windsor is picturesque La Cema @ Saralee’s Vineyard. This location is nestled in the Russian River Valley in a historic 1900s barn. The staff was so accommodating and friendly. The interior is rustic with a modern flair.

I chose the Saralee’s location for two reasons. One, it was a closer drive for us from our rental house in Sonoma and secondly, they offered a fabulous Picnic for 4 Wine Tasting that spoke to me! I called and was so happy to discover that we could get a reservation while in town for our trip. (Do plan in advance for something like this during high season). 

La Crema @ Saralee’s Vineyard offers 5 amazing experiences to choose from, I chose Saralee’s Picnic Experience because it was the perfect fit for a birthday celebration. This tasting is designed for 4 people in a formal setting presented by a Wine Educator/Chef. A menu of specialty foods & 5 La Crema wines is served and a picnic basket donning the La Crema logo is yours to take home. All for $150.

This was a memory we will cherish. Our chef was pleasantly fun, very informative and a delight. We sat on the back patio with a beautiful view of the grounds. The wine was fabulous, so of course, we brought several bottles home, one was enjoyed with our steak dinner that night! A visit to La Crema @ Saralee’s Vineyard is well worth the wine and the experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Country: Chateau St. Jean

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 Chateau St. Jean Estate Winery: 8555 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

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My sister & I share the same birthday in July, 3 years apart. She is the younger one (lucky her!). There is a name for this, Iris Twins, we call ourselves “distant twins” as we are so much alike we could be twins, and of course we both love wine! We wanted to celebrate together in a special way & with our two amazing husbands so we planned a trip to wine country in sunny California this past July. I had lived in Southern California but had never made it to wine country. Not sure how that was possible considering my love of wine and Northern Cali.

We planned 6 months in advance, booked a VRBO home in Sonoma, booked flights and a rental car. Then counted down the days, hours, minutes….It. was. amazing. Just too short of a trip! So in celebration of wine & wine country I am sharing about the wineries we visited. And after the devastating fires in California, I wanted to encourage travelers to head to wine country and help support the amazing industry of wine growers in California. Today I am featuring the beauty of Chateau St. Jean. *Note, a part of this winery did sustain some damage sadly and they are presently closed at the date of this posting, they do hope to open in the near future, so please check their current status and consider visiting!

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Chateau St. Jean by far has the most exquisite grounds. Inspired by estate gardens reminiscent of the South of France. Standing under the massive outreaching trees as the sun filtered through the branches with brilliance was utterly breathtaking. As we strolled through the grounds, you could hear birds chirping, see butterflies fluttering all about the greenery, and feel the warmth of the California sun. Paradise. The elegant chateau takes you back to the 1920s era.

We first entered the main wine tasting room (room is an understatement) and were greeted by the friendly staff. Here they offer a Premium Wine Tasting of 4 wines for $15 pp. There is plethora of wine merchandize, hand crafted goods, and gourmet goodies. I could have browsed in here for an hour easily.

We were then informed the Chateau’s Vineyard Room across the grounds offered a Reserve Tasting featuring 5 reserve & limited wines for $25 pp. The architecture in this building was regal at best with its exquisite wood paneling lining the staircase and walls. French doors opened to an expansive, elegant patio with the most amazing views of vineyards & estate grounds. 20170726_131832 - Copy

A third offering available was the Wine & Cheese Pairing. We could enjoy this on the patio while taking in the views. Offered at $35 pp. My sister and I were very interested in this one, but we had wanted to head out further to hit up other wineries and come back here. Unfortunately that didn’t happen but I will say, on our next wine country visit this is a must! Chateau St. Jean is by far one of my favorite vineyards for their amazing grounds, architecture and friendly staff.thumbnail_20170726_130250 - Copythumbnail_20170726_125841 - CopyIMG_0773 - CopyIMG_0721 - Copy