WINERY VISIT #5 – BELLA VINEYARDS AND WINE CAVES
Bella means “beautiful” and that’s just what the views from this Dry Creek property are. The views at Bella are not the only thing they have going for them. Their zinfandel is first-class and the syrah they make is also some very good juice.
A former co-worker from years ago lives not far from Sonoma and when this trip was being planned I had asked her to try to arrange a tour at Bella which has long been her favorite winery. We arrived in the early afternoon and after a quick tour of the caves, which have lots of side rooms used for special dinners and events at the winery, our guide Ross Clendennon, loaded the eight of us into their thirty year-old all-terrain vehicle for the climb up the hill to their “Lily Hill” Vineyard.
Everywhere you turned there was one magnificent view of the valley after another. Ross described the harvesting process and pointed out some of their neighbors including Ferrari-Carano pictured on the right above.
The grapes that go into making their signature wine, the “Lily’s Hill” Zinfandel, are grown near the top of the vineyard and benefit from both the afternoon sun and the soft breezes from the Pacific. Ross had us sampling the wines as we toured and made sure we never had an empty glass.
Eventually, he led us to a picnic table where we tasted thru much of the Bella line-up. This was the first year that Bella did a Chardonnay, a major departure from what was always nothing but red wine. He ended the tasting with an interesting pairing, chocolate peanut butter cups with a delicious late harvest zinfandel. Ross was the perfect host and even confided that he and his friends had recently produced a “mockumentary” on the entire Napa/Sonoma wine industry titled “Corked: The Movie”, which is apparently a satirical look at the entire wine scene.
We went back to the office area and made some purchases and thanked Ross for the tour and Carolyn and her husband, Dick, for taking time out of their schedule to set this up for us and spend some quality time with us. The memories of the beauty and serenity of the Dry Creek Valley will stay with all of us for a very long time.