Review: Wine tour with Green Dream Tours to Nicholson Ranch (Part 2)

This is a continuation from the previous post: Review: Wine tour from San Francisco to Napa and Sonoma Valley with Green Dream Tours (Part 1).

nicholson ranch california wine tour
Huge delivery trucks.. 250.2 million cases indeed.

In the previous post, I mentioned that it was the first time I was going on a wine tour. I was particularly excited as Californian wines were perhaps, one of best wines from the US. I mean, you don’t usually hear wines originating from Texas or Florida for that matter.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
Welcome to Sonoma Valley

According to the info sheet I was given by Green Dream Tours, California had 3,754 wineries in 2012, and produces 90% of the volume of wine in the US. California’s total wine shipments worldwide were 250.2 million cases in 2012.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
The vineyards are better trimmed than Larson’s, according to Friend S.

Today, the Sonoma County has over 350 wineries. Napa Valley has over 400 wineries. And that leads me to possibly the best winery in the whole of this tour, Nicholson Ranch.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
They started us off with the 2011 Sonoma Valley – Chardonnay. It was very refreshing

2. Nicholson Ranch

The winery was the largest out of the 3 we had visited. Its sprawling grounds encompassed the vineyards, an underground wine processing facility (it’s colder there) and a tiny church.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
The guide from Nicholson, giving an introduction of the place.

It did struck me as being rather commercialised, but the wines were really good. We’re red wine drinkers and really liked the Merlot and Pinot Noir which was offered to us. The views were really quite calming, think rolling hills and wide spaces of greenery. .

nicholson ranch california wine tour
It seems like a chill atmosphere..

But it was the wine-tasting which was the most enjoyable. Both the Pinot Noir and Merlot were really tasty. The Merlot in particular, was smooth on the palate, with complex spice notes, having been oaked in the barrel for a couple of years.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
With benches,
nicholson ranch california wine tour

Unlike most commercial wines, these wines were unfiltered, and we were told to expect sediment at the bottom of the glass. This sediment came in the form of yeast, which was still in the bottle, enhancing the fermenting process.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
and great wine. This is the 2010 Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir – really tasty.

Even though we had quite a long trip ahead of us, from West to East Coast passing by Canada, we bought a bottle – the Pinot Noir for USD45 which was a great purchase. (Wished we had bought more!)

The Processing Facility

Unlike the Larson’s Family Winery which we had been to earlier, wine is stored in storage tanks underground, where it is cooler. The reds are eventually transferred to barrels to be oaked – that’s how wine gets its complex spice notes.

nicholson ranch california wine tour
Good wine in the making.
nicholson ranch california wine tour
The processing facility
nicholson ranch california wine tour
The underground processing facility.
nicholson ranch california wine tour
This could be the 2009 Sonoma Valley Merlot. Rich, fruity, smooth on the palette.
nicholson ranch california wine dog
Wine dog! Best job in the world.
nicholson ranch california wine reserve
Case of Nicholson’s Reserve wine. Must be very good.
nicholson ranch california wine tour
Although the pictures look devoid of people, Nicholson Ranch is actually very commercialised. The winery is catered to big groups and tours. With wide spaces for people to rest while waiting for the rest of the group to be done.

In total, there were four different types of wines to taste. The staff was rather generous too, offering us second helpings if we wanted more. (Of course we agreed, given the great wine they had there).

Lunch @ Oxbow Market

For lunch, we stopped by the Oxbow Market. Lunch is not covered in the package, but there are a list of delectable food offerings, including burgers and Californian Oysters – Yum. (I’ll elaborate more in another post).

Stay tuned for our trip to the last winery, Hagafen Cellars.

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