On our honeymoon a year ago, we had the luxury of a limo tour through Sonoma. Nothing beats having someone drive you from vineyard to vineyard in a fully stocked stretch limo – one of the many highlights of our honeymoon for sure. And one of our earlier stops that day was Ledson Family Winery, a beautiful brick castle of a place nestled in amongst the hills with grapevines growing in vineyards all around it. We stopped for a picture on their long driveway before we were dropped in front of their grand double front doors.
The tasting menu was immense and we were educated on the art of tasting wine by one of their sommeliers. (We are told that a true sommelier is not all that common in tasting rooms.) He poured the wine and laid the glass down on the bar, the bowl and the base touching the marble countertop while his fingers, gingerly resting upon the stem, rolled the one ounce pour back and forth repeatedly to aerate the wine. It’s a technique we hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since, though Mark is determined to try it some time when Sonja isn’t looking. We enjoyed our experience at Ledson immensely and left with a bottle or two and the desire to return. And so, on our anniversary a year later, we did just that. This time, however, we bypassed the tasting room and went straight to the gift shop. We learned on our first visit that the gift shop was a great place to browse the wines, have a nice Panini, and maybe even try a few of the sale wines. However, this time around, we got more than we bargained for.
In the tasting room, the special that you can find if you peruse the Wine Country App or possibly Living Social is the pay-for-six-taste-nine deal. Nine of Ledson’s wines? Outstanding! On this visit, though, we had already had the wonderful experience of tasting and were more in the mood to stock our cellar. We stepped right into the shop, hoping to find a deal, and we were immediately greeted by a very pleasant young man who asked if we’d like to try anything. Mark stifled the desire to say “Yes, we’d like to try everything,” and we sampled a few of their sale wines. Ledson offers a truly impressive selection of wines, with many different vintages and varietals, in addition to a fabulous collection of blends. Our favorite of all time is Bellisimo, though it’s not one we can afford to drink every night. Ledson offers a variety of prices, too, however, and we ended up picking up a case of wine, including Reislings, Zinfandels, Syrah, Petite Verdot, and a few blends as well. Remember: We’re budget wine drinkers. We like good wine, but we are not about to pull the cork on a bottle of Dom unless, well, unless someone else paid for it. The total cost of our case at Ledson came to just over $200. Cheap wine? Not at all. Worth having, worth drinking, worth storing in the cellar and drinking when the occasion calls for it? Absolutely. Best of all, ground shipping from Cali to the Cornhusker state ran only around $30, a steal considering that you simply can’t find Ledson’s wines anywhere in the Midwest, which in turn makes them that much more fun to serve to our friends.
The more we tour any particular wine region, the less likely we are to return to vineyards we have already been to. Even if we really love them, we know that there are so many special, unique places to experience, and we kind of just want to try them all if we’re being totally honest. Exempli gratia, today we drove the five or so miles east of Omaha we needed to in order to get to Iowa, and we visited a few places on the Iowa Wine Trail that we hadn’t already seen/tasted. We knew we liked Prairie Crossing, and we could have returned there, but instead we tried out Vine Street Cellars just down the road, and we were well rewarded for being adventuresome. Our night included a lovely selection of wines, good cheeses, live music, and a brief tour of the winemaking facility from the owners. We’ll tell you all about it sometime. This sort of thing is exactly the reason that we don’t regularly return to old haunts, but instead spend much of our time finding new ones. That said, a place we’re likely to go back to again and again in Sonoma is Ledson. The experience, and the wine, is just too good to pass up, whether it’s your first visit or your fortieth. Thanks to Ledson and their excellent staff, and thanks also to the next great place we haven’t yet been to. We can’t wait to see what you have to offer!