Old Roma Station is an historic warehouse district on the south side of Healdsburg, in lovely Sonoma County Wine Country. It is situated just around the corner from the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and across the street from the Russian River. The old station is a remnant of the warehouses built in close proximity to the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad tracks which reached Healdsburg between 1870 and 1872. Now it is home to 11, mostly boutique sized, family owned wineries. On this recent October weekend, however, it was home to a few hundred very happy wine and pizza enthusiasts who came to taste these special wines and the Rosso Wood Fired Pizza featured and paired with selected wines at this splendid wine country event.
The host wineries Hart’s Desire Wines, J. Keverson Winery, Sapphire Hill Winery and the newest addition to the station, Skewis Wines were featured and paired with the Rosso pizza. Most of the other wineries located in the district were pouring but clearly the stars of this event were the four featured wineries. One of the wonderful aspects of these smaller events is that you get to meet the owners and winemakers who, in many cases, are one and the same. That was certainly true at this fun event.
John and Desire Hart, Hart’s Desire Wines, have been making wine, commercially, after years of making wine for themselves, family and friends, for about 20 years. Known mostly for their gorgeously crafted, single vineyard wines, John Hart III (the winemaker) and his wife Desire (and now Shea, one of the couples two daughters) focus on small case production wines with unique character and perfect balance. Typically making only 30-300 cases per varietal, their total case production hovers just under 2000 cases a year. John and Desire source their grapes from a few very select vineyards mostly in the Alexander and Russian River Valleys. A particularly notable vineyard is the Ponzo Vineyard owned and farmed by Phil and Barbara Ponzo. Their grapes (often hoarded and only shared with the best of friends) are highly acclaimed, and, over the years, have been praised for wines produced by Ridge Vineyards as well as Nickel & Nickel Wineries. Barbara Ponzo (wife of Phil) was at this event, pouring Hart’s Desire wines and generally making all feel welcomed and at home.
Sapphire Hill Winery has existed for some time under previous owners but in the fall of 2010, the winery and label were purchased by Chris and Lisa Mulcahy. Chris Mulcahy made his ‘first’ mark in the financial world but his passion for wine brought he and wife Lisa to Healdsburg and the wine industry. Chris’s day job is his small family winery consulting business, Family Wine Services. Lisa continues her day job of working with morning radio personalities across the country. Sapphire Hill winemaker, Tami Collins, is also the winemaker at De La Montanya. Most of their grapes do come from either Alexander or the Russian River Valleys. They produced about 1300 cases last year, again, with a focus on small, single vineyard, specially crafted wines like their Gewürztraminer from the Anderson Valley.
John Hazelwood is an owner (1 of 4) and winemaker at J.Keverson Winery along with partners/friends, Kevin Tompkins, Scott Broome and Doug Webb. Four friends who parlayed a love of playing together into owning a winery and working together. Their quest to continue a bocce game into a fun ‘employment’ opportunity resulted in the development of their own winery. They used their initials to name their wine partnership. Making wine from some of the most highly regarded and also some of the best kept secret vineyards throughout Northern California, including Dry Creek and other Sonoma and Mendocino County appellations’ has proven to be a well thought out “gambit”. The wines themselves are wonderfully balanced and approachable. Their offerings include several single vineyard Zinfandel and Chardonnay wines as well as a Sangiovese, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Case production of about 2100 cases includes a sparkling release called Bubbly for Boobies. Don’t let the humorous label mislead. After reflecting on how many women they knew that had been diagnosed with breast cancer, these friends decided to make the label pink and to give the profits from the sale of each bottle to The Breast Cancer Society. These guys are not just playing around.
Hank and Maggie Skewis founded Skewis Wines back in 1994 with the intention of producing high quality; vineyard designated Pinot Noir from The North Coast region of California. The first grapes were purchased from the Floodgate Vineyard in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. They continue to contract for fruit from the Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast appellations, principally, with annual production increasing slowly over the years to the current level of about 900 cases. Some of their most notable single vineyard designated Pinots come from the Corby Vineyard in the Anderson Valley and the Peters Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast appellation. Following the principal of lower yields providing more intense fruit, the Skewis’ work with their suppliers to limit yields to between two and two and one-half tons per acre. The results are in the bottle (or your glass).
Rosso Pizza and Wine Bar in Santa Rosa is a destination all by itself. If you love soccer or European Football then you will love their ambiance in Santa Rosa. Their mobile pizza oven and catering operation is a real winner. Hot, crisp and flavorful pizza with a wonderful crust and unique toppings served directly from their Mobile Italian stone oven is impressive and very satisfying. They did an awesome job of working with the various winemakers to pair the right pizza with the perfect wine. Tempranillo from Hart’s Desire and wonderful pizza. OMG!!
Solid Air is a well-rounded and well-established music group from north of San Francisco. Stylistically led by founders Allegra Broughton (vocals, guitar, songwriter), and Sam Page (vocals, bass, baritone slide guitar, co-writer), the group (duo/trio or quartet) has been performing together for twenty years at fairs, festivals, clubs, concert stages and coffeehouses. Despite their longevity they have a way of making things sound fresh and new! They have been called “One of the North Bay’s Brightest Gems”. They have at least eight albums to their credit and their repertoire is extensive covering classics by the Beatles, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Chris Isaak, and Patsy Cline as well as several original songs. Solid Air was a perfect match for this event bringing energy and musicality and creating a celebratory party mood.
A fun event all around and worth a repeat performance in 2012!!