My Cup of Tea Is Wine — By Laura DuPree April 2020

By Laura DuPree

‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,’ oh where, oh where, to go in wine country today,” I literally said to myself recently, when trying to decide which wineries to feature in my next column.

After some thought, I turned onto Westside Road – a scenic route leading to the Russian River Valley – where vineyards, wineries, trees, birds, barns and cows, among other photo-worthy images can be spotted along the way.

My first stop: Landmark Vineyards Hop Kiln Estate – which, speaking of photographs, has undoubtedly been the backdrop for many “Kodak Moments” over the last 100 years. This awe-inspiring structure, built in 1905, is “a registered California Historical Landmark and recognized as ‘the most significant surviving example of a stone hop kiln in the North Coast Region,” according to information on Landmark’s website. Hence, a visit to Hop Kiln Estate is worth your time, whether you drink wine or not.

For those who do partake, the tasting room menu includes eight quality Chardonnays, 10 Pinot Noirs, and one Pinot Gris. Landmark Vineyards, which also has a tasting room in Kenwood, produces about 8,000 cases direct to consumer (allocated for wine club members and tasting-room guests). The winery also produces a line called “Overlook,” which is widely distributed to restaurants and food markets across the United States.

The wine I tasted during my visit was very good, and I even purchased a couple of bottles of the Damaris Reserve Chardonnay, but I must admit I got a little distracted by a tree full of bluebirds. This magical scene is apparently just one of many that have been viewed through large picture windows behind the bar that look out at the backside of the property, where a frost reservation pond is home to a white heron and visited by a family of river otters.

“It’s really adorable,” tasting room hostess Jessica Main said, before telling the story of a mom and her two pups that last spring would sunbathe on a duck house that floats in the pond and then jump into the water. Now as adults, they return once or twice a month and stay for about a week, she said. “I tell people we are like SeaWorld now; if you come during the time they are here you get an otter show.”

Landmark Vineyards Hop Kiln Estate, open for tasting 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily, is located at 6050 Westside Rd., Healdsburg. INFO: https://www.landmarkwine.com or call 433-6491.

De La Montanya Estate Vineyards & Winery, less than four miles from Hop Kiln Estate, is another property not to be missed.

This structure, built to look like a small barn, houses barrel storage, the winery, and an intimate tasting room. On quieter days, wine can also be sampled outside in a garden area that abuts the winery’s vineyard. A fountain on the patio adds to the tranquil feeling being offered here; its cascading water makes that soothing sound I personally love listening to.

Peaceful feeling aside, the wine is excellent, according to my palate. De La Montanya only produces about 4,000 cases annually, General Manager Jarod Kline said, but they still offer a wide selection of wines: Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, a white blend, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Primitivo, and all five of the traditional red Bordeaux varietals. I only sampled the Zin and the Chard during my visit, and naturally, I purchased a bottle of each. I plan on returning to this winery when I’m not working, so I can taste some of the other wines. If the weather is nice, I might even sit outside with a glass, take in the view, and listen …

Asked how he would describe De La Montanya, Kline said, it is reminiscent of “old time Healdsburg with a friendly environment and good wine presented in a non-pretentious way.”

De La Montanya, open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily, is located at 999 Foreman Lane, Healdsburg. INFO:www.dlmwine.com or call 433-3711.

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