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Sonoma County Gazette
28th Annual Winter WINEland, a great opportunity to meet winemakers, taste limited production wines, new releases or library wines.
28th Annual Winter WINEland, a great opportunity to meet winemakers, taste limited production wines, new releases or library wines.

Wines for the Holidays
& Winter WINELAND 2020

Nov 24, 2019
by John Haggard, Sophie's Cellars


It’s that time of year when we get to enjoy some extra special meals with loved ones (often with multiple dishes and courses, including rich desserts), so I’ve selected five new wines that all make great pairings for holiday dinners, including two dessert wines).

Moshin Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2018

A nose of rhubarb and lemon custard. On the front of the palate there is lime zest and a spicy red cinnamon quality leading to watermelon and watermelon rind and bright acidity mid-palate. This well-balanced rose will pair well with white fish, poultry and pork. It will also make a perfect pairing for a Turkey. Enjoy now through 2020. This vintage has been highly awarded. For more information, visit 

Hart’s Desire Sauvignon Blanc, Staley Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley 2018

A nose of honeydew crenshaw melon and grass. The palate is distinctly pineapple, cantaloupe and there is a very fleshy lychee fruit quality toward to the finish. The acidities are balanced with round fruit flavors. Pair this Sauvignon Blanc with some braised brussel sprouts or meyer lemon chicken. This wine will also pair well with many salads. Enjoy now through 2021.  visit

Hart’s Desire Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County 2016

Nose of roast coffee bean and caramel. The palate leads with black currant and plum, red berry cranberry is the most pronounced flavor mid-palate, with dusty cocoa flavors on the finish.  Typically when cabernet sauvignon displays a red tart flavor of crabapple I would not think to pair it with red meat – however, I find all the other characteristics of the wine conducive to a pairing with red meat dishes such as braised lamb shank or a standing rib roast. Enjoy now through 2026. No decanting necessary. I tasted this wine over a two day period.  visit

Hart’s Desire Syrah Noir, Dessert Wine, Alexander Valley, 2017

Nose of candied orange rind, with distinctive vanilla and strawberry shortcake. This “dessert wine” (after dinner wine) is filled with flavors of baked fruit.  This wine would complement a blueberry tartain. There is lingering dark fruit on the palate.  Syrah noir is not always produced as a late harvest wine but I find this demi-sec (semi-sweet) wine works very well as a dessert pairing. Enjoy now through 2026. For more information, visit

Yalumba Antique Tawny Port

This port is cask aged. The color is a rich reddish brown tawny. A nose of butterscotch with hints of dried herbs. Some of the herbaceous quality translates to the palate. The front of the palate is vanilla leading to caramelized sugar mid-palate and a long lingering finish of caramel and creamy milk-chocolate. The alcohol is 19%. Definitely a beverage that can be served with very rich desserts such as bread pudding, flourless chocolate cake or vanilla bean crème brulee to enhance the flavors. It’s also the perfect pairing for after dinner conversation. Due to the fact that tawnys are oxidized wines – aging is possible, however the cork is a very short “Tee-Top” cork which doesn’t really provide for a lengthy aging time, otherwise you could shelve it for decades – but not with this cork. Yalumba has been producing wines since 1849, for more information visit

Upcoming Events

Winter Wineland, January 18-19, 2020, 11am-4pm each day.

It’s the 28th Winter Wineland. Taste current vintages, multiple varietals grown in Sonoma County, and even try a few verticals. A great opportunity to meet winemakers, taste limited production wines, new releases or library wines. All participating wineries highlight a Vintage, Varietal or Vertical tasting for the weekend. Ticket price includes wine tasting at all of the participating wineries for the weekend. Not all wineries provide food for this event. Winter WINEland does not take place at one location, you travel from winery to winery, visiting the ones you are interested in exploring. As such, I highly recommend finding a designated driver or consider sharing a limo or tour. 1437 Grove Street, Healdsburg, California. Call  (707) 433-4335For more information, visit


Wine Banter by John Haggard




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