"Buzz" the Elf stumbled into the VAULT29 office in December 2013 after escaping his previously adopted family who, heaven forbid, strictly prohibited him from drinking wine.
His new role is to set out into the world of wine and report back to winelovers. Stay tuned for his 25 days of wine adventures.
Day 1: Buzz is caught hanging out in the vineyards deep in the heart of Sonoma County.
Day 2: “Buzz” makes his debut winery appearance at Lynmar Estate and captures his experience using the VAULT29app. The Reserve Tasting was right up his alley as he sipped Quail Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pt Wine Enthusiast) and Chardonnay (92pt Wine Enthusiast), along with other limited release single vineyard wines. VIP treatment has “Buzz” recommending you visit with friends and experience the Wine & Food Picnic Pairing
Day 3: With a hop, skip, jump across the street from Lynmar, Buzz made a visit at Dutton-Goldfield. He began his experience with the Discovery Tasting where he enjoyed the newly released cool climate pinot noir and chardonnay. While sippin’, he learned about the history of the winery and how the family business has grown from owning 35 acres to more than 1,000 acres in the Russian River Valley! Buzz reports back that his $15 tasting fee was waived with his wine purchase. He’s already planning his next visit to experience the Beast and Pinot Pairing!
Day 4: For years, Buzz read about the “buzz” surrounding Hall of Fame winemaker, Merry Edwards, and always wanted to plan a visit to the acclaimed winery. Since he knew he was going to be in the area, he called ahead and organized a private tasting with 7 of his friends – they even splurged on a limo. Surrounded by winery cats, Buzz and Co. sipped on Estate Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc while they learned about vineyard sustainability (ex: organic mushrooms are used as compost). You’ll notice from the picture, Buzz was on his best behavior (ie sitting upright). Buzz loved the wines and Merry Edwards is his new #wcw (Woman Crush Wednesday)! Share your Merry Edwards experiences in our app!
Day 5: Rumor has it “The Barlow” is a state of the art facility with some pretty impressive wineries – food and art too – but Buzz is a workaholic and is dedicated to reporting on the wine scene. Buzz decides to make a pit stop in downtown Sebastopol, a 10 minute drive from his previous stop, Merry Edwards Winery. Not to worry winelovers, Buzz believes it’s always best to have a designated driver – he never drinks and drives.
Buzz’s first stop is the MacPhail Tasting Lounge – he was drawn to the bright red Radio Flyer wagons which matched his outfit. Jim and his staff spoiled Buzz, first with the Chardonnays then the Pinot Noirs. Buzz was so complimentary of the wines, Jim even hooked him up with a splash of the Mardikian Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast (special hat tip to Jim!) Buzz was in such a gift giving mood, he purchased a special gift box for his mother (he’s a mama’s boy but in denial). In Buzz’s book, an awesome venue with awesome wines makes for an A++ rating – and MacPhail is not to be missed!
Day 6: Within walking distance from Macphail, Buzz headed over to Wind Gap’s new tasting room at The Barlow. He wasted no time taking a seat at the bar and ordering the Sun Chase pinot noir by the glass. This sexy wine put him in a seductive mood where he jumped off the bar stool and begin dancing to the music (yes, he embarrassed himself). He LOVED the ambiance of the tasting room and suggests ordering a wine by the glass, experiencing one of their 4 tasting flights and/or trying a few different wines (2oz pours)!
Day 7: Buzz respects firefighters and the hard work they put in saving lives. So, today he reports back to wine lovers from Hook & Ladder on Olivet Road, Sonoma County. Buzz knew his driver pulled up to the correct winery when he saw the vintage fire truck parked in front of the property. Upon entering the tasting room, Buzz is filled with appreciation by the numerous firefighter t-shirts hanging in the rafters. Devin, the Tasting Room Manager, welcomed Buzz to taste some wine. From Sauvignon Blanc, to Chardonnay, to Gewürztraminer, to red wines like Merlot, Red Blends, Cabernet, Zinfandel and more! Buzz was mesmerized by the amount of different wines he’d be trying. During the tasting he learned of the winery’s history and couldn’t believe how affordable the wines were. Great people, interesting story, good wine, and amazing price points have Buzz suggesting you visit Hook & Ladder, a DeLoach family winery.
Day 8: Buzz, ready for a relaxing wine experience after his Hook & Ladder adventure, crossed the street to visit Pellegrini Estate on Olivet Lane vineyard. The olive trees, which lined the entrance of the property, put him in the perfect wine tasting mood and the Tuscan-styled winery was so inviting. Buzz selected the Classic Wine Tasting option ($10) where he sipped on Pellegrini wines and enjoyed the vineyard views. He mentions the winery pours Olivet Lane wines too, but they were sold out (next release is Feb. 2015). There were several different varietals to taste, like a Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, an un-oaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and a Zinfandel. Nice price points meant Buzz went home with a case and a gift pack for his mother! He suggests you pay this venue a visit and capture your relaxing and affordable wine experience using the VAULT29 app!
Day 9: Buzz made his way west to Woodenhead Vintners (only 1+ mile from his previous stop on Olivat Lane). The dynamic duo of Nikolai and Zina presents wine lovers with exceptional wines to taste on the winery deck (or bar) while enjoying sweeping vineyard views. Buzz tasted several Pinot Noirs and Zinfandel’s which are produced from various regions across California, including Santa Cruz Mountains, Humbolt County, Mendocino, Alexander Valley, and of course, the Russian River. The “Wet Kiss” Pinot Noir was Buzz’s favorite, not only because it was divine, but it got all the ladies who were wine tasting to flirt with him (so he says). Per Buzz, Woodenhead is a great place to stop for a cool wine tasting experience and documenting it all using the VAULT29 app..
Day 10: Of course Buzz had heard of the name “Korbel” and consumed bottles of the “California Champagne”, but never paid the winery a visit. He continued west from his previous stop at Woodenhead on into Guerneville. Planning ahead, he took advantage of booking Korbel’s free tour and tasting. Tons of bubbles flowed as he walked through the winery learning about their 132 year existence and the winery’s survival during Prohibition. Buzz also learned of Korbel’s winemaking approach as all California Champagnes are made using the méthode champenoise method, meaning the champagne is fermented in the same bottle in which it is served/sold. After the tour and tasting, Buzz made his way to the onsite deli where he ordered a sandwich and sat on the outside patio overlooking the vineyards. Before leaving he picked up a case of affordable wine. Buzz documented his Korbel experience using the VAULT29 app and he recommends you do the same!
Day 10: Buzz makes a stop at the historic turn-of-the-century hop barn at Martinelli Winery while on his way from Guerneville to downtown Sonoma. He tasted estate grown and produced wines for just $10! While sippin’, Buzz learned of the intriguing family history, including why the steepest non-terraced vineyard in Sonoma County is named Jackass Hill, how the Martinelli children hand-polished Gravenstein and Golden Delicious apples to sell along with fresh pressed apple juice, and how only ~10% of the grapes grown are used for their own wines. Buzz suggests Visiting the winery to get the full scoop, enjoy lovely crafted wines, and peek around inside the winery gift shop. Don’t forget to capture your Martinelli experiences using the VAULT29 app.
Day 12: Buzz took a drive to downtown Sonoma (~35 miles from Martinelli) to visit Sojourn Cellars. From reading various reviews, he had heard of their highly acclaimed winery producing high quality pinot noir, chardonnay, and cabernet. Buzz called ahead to make an appointment, no walk-ins. He took a seat and began his side-by-side comparative tasting, first with chardonnay, to pinot, and finishing with a Spring Mountain (Napa) cabernet. While tasting, he learned of the various soil types, as well as how Sojourn came to be -- over a tennis match. Thank goodness for tennis matches! Their quaint tasting room, intimate setting, knock-out wines, and lovely hospitality made the visit one to remember. Buzz highly recommends stopping by Sojourn when in historic downtown Sonoma and using the VAULT29 app to capture the experience.
Day 13: Buzz makes a quick pit stop over to another downtown Sonoma haunt, Kamen Estate, conveniently located within steps from Sojourn Cellars. He loved the laid back vibe of the tasting room, especially the Carrera marble bar and the phase paintings hanging on the wall. Buzz, feeling good from all the Pinot and Chardonnay goodness, gets chatty with the Hospitality Ambassador, Kyle, who tells him about the history of Kamen. In 1980, Robert Kamen came to Sonoma to celebrate the sale of his first screenplay. Buzz learns Kamen was actually behind many of his favorite movies like Karate Kid, Taps, A Walk in the Clouds and many more. Buzz realizes the phase paintings are lines from many of the films he's written! Buzz tasted an estate grown cabernet, the Writer's Block - a red blend, and a crisp stone fruit sauvignon blanc, but his favorite take away was the Kashmir (only 175 cases produced). With a swift call to his limo driver, Buzz put his purchased stash of wine away and began walking to his next downtown Sonoma destination. He suggests using the VAULT29 app to find and capture your Kamen wine experiences just like he did.
Day 14: As Buzz walked through Sonoma square from Kamen Estate, he came across the charming little tasting room known as Hawkes Winery. As he walked through the bright red front door, Douglas, the tasting room pro, welcomed Buzz to find a seat at the bar. Soft music was playing and Buzz was ready to taste. He tasted four wines: a chardonnay, a merlot, and two cabernets all for $10! While Hawkes is known for their cabernets, Buzz enjoyed the un-oaked chardonnay best. He recommends visiting “your friend’s cottage” and capturing the experience using the VAULT29 app!
Day 15: Buzz’s next stop was easy, he literally walked across the street to WALT wines. This cozy “homey” little tasting room melted his heart! The friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate staff welcomed him to WALT, offered him a seat, and walked him through their amazing tasting experience – 5 knock-out wines for $20. As he sipped he learned that Kathryn Walt Hall is not only the proprietor of WALT wines, but also of HALL wines on Hwy 29 in Napa Valley (Buzz is a fan of HALL’s killer cabernets). After the tasting, Buzz was escorted to the “backyard” tasting area where, rumor has it, is the perfect place for Summer afternoons. Buzz informed the staff to expect him (in disguise) in the Summer or sooner. He left with a couple of chardonnay’s and pinot noir’s and captured his WALT experience using the VAULT29 app!
Day 16: Buzz took a 10 minute relaxing ride inside his limo to Gundlach Bundschu. The property was lined with rows of zinfandel vines, nearly 40 years old. Upon passing the vines, the limo driver abruptly stops. Buzz hops out to sit shotgun and strike a pose inside Gundlach Bundschu's classic truck. Finally inside the winery, Buzz begins his tasting. For $10 he tasted 5 estate wines, no appointment needed! He learned Gundlach Bundschu was one of the first wineries to produce the merlot varietal! Besides merlot, you can taste varietals like: Gewürztraminer, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Cab Franc, and so much more! The history of this winery is astonishing and dates back to the late 1800's. Buzz will definitely be back in the Summer with his friends where he'll partake in a private cave tasting or vineyard excursion with his friends! This winery is highly recommended. Be sure to capture your Gundlach Bundschu experiences using the VAULT29 app!
Day 17: Buzz’s next wine experience was conveniently located around the corner from Gundlach Bundshu at Scribe Winery. As his limo driver maneuvered up the hill, Buzz was pleasantly surprised to come across an inviting group of winelovers huddled around the firepit, covered in blankets and throws. Beyond the majestic oak trees was an exceptional view of the valley floor – with rows and rows of vines lining the distance; the perfect backdrop for wine tasting. The hostess popped a few bottles for Buzz to try: the 2012 Chardonnay, the 2013 Carneros Pinot Noir and the 2014 Nouveau of Pinot Noir. Since Santa Claus is such a big fan of Beaujolais Nouveau, Buzz decided to purchase a case of the Scribe Nouveau – an artisan’s take on the popular French wines. You can find wine experiences from Scribe Winery within the VAULT29 app.
Day 18: Buzz was really (REALLY!) excited to head over to his new wine tasting destination: Patz & Hall. He’s been a long time fan of the producers (who are celebrating their 25th anniversary!), and they recently opened their new tasting salon on Eighth Street. He pulled up to the winery, on the hour, just in time for his wine tasting appointment. For $25, Buzz enjoyed 4 single vineyard wines and he blissfully enjoyed each and every one! His report back to wine lovers is, do not bypass this wine experience when in Sonoma, as some of the best chardonnay's and pinot noir's are produced by Patz & Hall! You can find wine experiences from Patz & Hall within the VAULT29 app.
Day 19: Next up: Buzz heads over to Anaba to get his fix of Rhone and Burgundian style wines. Located on the corner of Arnold and 8th Street is the charming, restored 100 year old farmhouse. With picnic basket in tow, Buzz wanders into the tasting room and meets his host. For $10, he tasted 6 different wines on the patio while enjoying the vineyard views. Anaba also offers an educational experience for $30pp, “Beyond the Label”, should you have interest learning about winemaking, wine pairings, harvest + more! This quaint place with great wines and a friendly staff will have you repeatedly coming back. Buzz highly recommends paying Anaba a visit and capturing every moment using the VAULT29 app!
Day 20: Next up on Buzz's wine itinerary is Schug Winery, a 50 acre vineyard in the Carneros region of Sonoma Valley. Perched above the hillside, Buzz hops out of his ride and takes in the sights of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. "Spectacular," Buzz says under his breath. Buzz checks into the tasting room and decides to spend the $10 for the tasting fee. The tasting room staff provide him with the option for the self guided tour which is free. Because the day is gorgeous, and time essentially stands still for Buzz (19th winery in one day), he decides to view the grounds at his own pace. With a glass of Chardonnay in hand, he picks up his detailed walking guide and takes off for the vineyards. Buzz is a wine extraordinaire, so he is very familiar with Walter Schug, one of the industry leaders in California wine production. Schug Winery is a dream venture he started with wife Gertrud in 1980. Their focus is to produce world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, combining old world influences with modern winemaking. If you go, Buzz recommends the classic 2013 Carneros Chardonnay and the 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir - both at $30/bottle which is a great value. For those who love the heavier, more complex reds, don't miss the 2009 Merlot and 2011 Cabernet, both sourced from the Sonoma Valley. Pay Schug a visit and capture your wine experiences using the VAULT29 app!
Day 21: Buzz decides he's in the mood for some bubbles, so he asks his limo driver to head south and take him to famous Gloria Ferrer. The property is very impressive; a long olive tree-lined road (he counts 170 trees) runs down the middle of 355 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. At the top of the road sits the winery, and Buzz makes a bee-line through the tasting room and out to the patio with sweeping views of the Sonoma Valley. Buzz is greeted by a very nice member of the winery staff and is presented with the various tasting options which vary from cave tours, flight tastings and individual glasses. Buzz decides he better pace himself, so he treats himself to two nice glasses of bubbles, the classic Carneros Cuvée and the Brut Rosé. (Rumor has it, real elves drink pink). He learns Gloria Ferrer was the first sparkling house in the Carneros district, and they were also the first to bring over Champagne clones to the area. Halfway through his flute, Buzz decides to order himself a baguette and his favorite cheese, Mt. Tam by Cowgirl Creamery. The complimentary smoked almonds were an extra bonus. Feeling stuffed, he ordered a bottle to go and took off to his next destination. Buzz recommends visiting this gorgeous property and capturing your Gloria Ferrer wine experiences using the VAULT29 app!
Day 22: Buzz's limo whipped down the hill at Gloria Ferrer, and made it's way a short distance to Jacuzzi Winery. As they pulled in, Buzz jumped out and took an "elfie" on the winery's sign. He thought he was sitting on, what appeared to be, a plane propeller, but didn't know the significance. He walked through the winery doors and into the tasting room, and was ready for his wine experience! During his complimentary wine tasting (5 wines, no appointment w/groups 6 or less!)). Buzz learned the Jacuzzi family has a fascinating history that spans 2 centuries back to Italy. Family members immigrated to the United States, and spent years in the aviation business (hence the propeller!) After a tragic airplane accident that took the lives of loved ones, the family worked in Berkeley, CA selling water pumps. Eventually, the family invented the popular whirlpool spas - which we now commonly refer to as "jacuzzis." He loved all the wines, including the Italian varietals available at Jacuzzi, like the Montepulciano and Barbera. With prices so affordable, he couldn't pass up taking a case home with him! Like Buzz, visit Jacuzzi and capture your experience using the VAULT29 app!
Day 23: Feeling good from tasting at Jacuzzi, Buzz walks directly across the street to Jacuzzi’s sister property, Cline Cellars. An enormous amount of roses line the driveway as he made his way to the tasting room (he later learned there are over 5,000 roses on the property). Buzz began his complimentary tasting of 5 non-reserve Rhone-style wines, and because he enjoyed the friendly flavored non-reserves so much, he decided to try a flight of 3 reserve wines for only $5 (8 total pours for $5, but who’s counting?) As he sipped, he learned Cline sustainably farms and crafts single vineyard, Sonoma Coast, old (ancient) vine, and California wines. When in the Sonoma area, Buzz suggests paying both Jacuzzi and Cline Cellars a visit. The family history is awesome, the grounds are stunning, and Buzz reports back, “it’s not just a winery it’s a getaway with cool attractions like the Carp Pond, Museum, and exotic bird display.” Be sure to add your Cline cellar wine experiences in the VAULT29 app!
Day 24: For the very last stop of Buzz’s Sonoma wine-tasting extravaganza, he asked his limo driver to stop at Viansa Winery. The limo carefully pulled around the fountain, up the road through the olive tree orchard, to the top of the property. Buzz stepped out of the limo and was immediately transported to a hilltop village in the Tuscany region of Italy. “Bellisimo” exclaimed Buzz! Once inside the winery villa, Buzz was greeted by the friendly staff and he tasted 5 wines for $5 – an incredible deal in wine country! His favorite wines were the Zinfandel and the Reserve Italian varietals: Primitivo, Sangiovese and Barbera. He loved the 2011 Vino Rosso Red Blend as an everyday red wine, so he purchased a case. Since the views were so stunning, Buzz decided to stay and order a pizza to go along with his Vino Rosso. As he sat there taking the moment in, Buzz recalled the many incredible wine experiences he enjoyed in the Sonoma region. He pat himself on the back and couldn’t wait to return to the North Pole to show Mr. & Mrs. Claus (and all winelovers) of his wine experiences captured using the VAULT29 app!