(By Guest Author Daniel Walsh) It was the middle of January in 2012 with open skies and a beautiful coastal breeze in the air. Two coworkers and myself had made an appointment a month prior to visit Pride Vineyards and Winery on Spring Mountain. The tasting room was located on the estate, sitting atop the mountain, which is split between the Sonoma/Napa county lines. Upon arrival, we entered the tasting room and were greeted with a glass of their estate viognier and the Hospitality Manager, Mike Campbell, who lead us on a tour of the estate and through their wine caves.
Upon entering the wine caves, Mike gave us a brief history of the winery as well as the different viticulture practices used around the estate. At every corner throughout the wine cave, we tasted barrel samples from different vineyard blocks. To my surprise, no vineyard block tasted the same, and every Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah showed different characteristics unique to its location on the estate. Never before had I experienced such a difference in varietal characteristics that were all grown on the same estate.
As we turned a corner in the wine cave, we came into a door that lead us into a beautiful lounge area with couches, appetizers and the estates current release of wines for a sit down tasting. Mike introduced every wine individually and explained the technical aspects from varietal blend, amount of oak used, and the type of meal each wine could be paired with. My favorite food pairing recommendation was for the Syrah, paired with a pork chop in a fig balsamic reduction with roasted potatoes tossed in garlic/mustard aioli. I remember it so clearly because I bought a bottle of the Syrah and paired it with the meal a few weeks later.
As we returned to the tasting room, we finished up our tour with their dessert wine; grappa distilled from viognier must and blended with fresh viognier juice. To this day, that is the best dessert wine I’ve ever had in my life. Pride Vineyards and Winery is located in one of the most beautiful areas of both Sonoma and Napa Counties and produces some of the best wines I’ve ever tasted. However, the best part of this experience was the hospitality of Mike Campbell. Mike was the most educational and professional tour guide I’ve ever had the privilege of accompanying and showed coworkers and myself great hospitality when he sent us home with a bottle of dessert wine, on the house.
NOTE: This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.