A Tasting With Boutique Wineries Three Sticks and Hamel Family Vineyards


Contributed by Sophia Fish
– The SSU Wine Sense Club was honored to host two unique boutique wineries this week – Three Sticks and Hamel Family Vineyards, both located in Sonoma Valley.

20151105_191655Even better was the fact that both wineries have hired SSU wine business students. Katie Boyer now works at Three Sticks Winery and our Wine Sense President, Rachel Minor, works as an intern at Hamel Family Wines.

Overview of Three Sticks Winery

Three Sticks is a winery that succeeds with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bill Price purchased Durell Vineyard in 1998, and went on to found Three Sticks Winery in 2002. The winery began producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from it’s 111 acres.

Source of the Name: The name Three Sticks came from “Billy Three Sticks,” a nickname given to Price by surfing friends who teased him about his formal name, William S. Price III.

Winemaking: Three Sticks winemaker is Don Van Staaveren, a former winemaker for Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood. Its winemaking team has recently grown this year with the addition of Bob Cabral as the label’s director of winemaking. Cabral is a gifted winemaker who previously spent 16 years as winemaker at Williams Selyem.

Three Sticks wines are made in very small quantities and are available by allocation only – but don’t fret. If you would like to taste these exclusive wines you are welcome to visit Three Sticks tasting room called the Adobe. The winery recently restored the historic Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe in downtown Sonoma, used for private tastings daily by appointment.

We tasted four wines from Three Sticks:

  • 2013 Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay: Aromas of ginger, citrus, roasted almonds, sandalwood, with a creamy complex finish.
  • 2013 Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley ORGIN Chardonnay: Notes of lemon blossom, fresh fig, citrus and summer peach.
  • 2013: Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Essence of blackberries, mushrooms, soft leather, dark cherries and earth.
  • 2013 Gaps Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Aromas of raspberry, cranberry and black cherry, with a wonderful balance of spice and fruit.

Hamel Family Wines – A Family Affair

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Hamel Family at Winery

Hamel Family Wines was founded in 2006, when George Hamel Jr. and his wife, Pamela, looked to Wine Country as a place to escape the summers in San Francisco. It all started when the Hamels purchased a home on the Tres Palmas Vineyard in Kenwood. After that it quickly became a family affair, with John Hamel II as the winemaker and George Hamel III as the managing director.

The Lowdown on the Logo:You may be wondering about the unique label chosen for the brand. There are many reasons why this logo was chosen, but the most significant is the family’s three generations of University of Wisconsin graduates; George, George Jr. and John Hamel II. The schools mascot is a badger. Go Badgers!

The Winemaking: One thing that is special about Hamel Family Wines is that everything is grown on its estate, meaning it has full control over the quality of wine produced. The winery’s land is certified organic, and it expects to its biodynamic certificate in two to four years. It originally produced 290 cases, and increased to 4,500 this year. These wines are sold exclusively at its Sonoma Valley tasting room, as well as some upscale restaurants such as The French Laundry and The Girl & The Fig.

We tasted three wines from Hamel Family:

  • 2014 Sonoma Valley Estate Rose: Aromas of white peach, red berries, orange zest, and ginger.
  • 2012 Sonoma Valley Isthmus: Notes of tobacco, dark fruit, earth and cassis.
  • 2013 Sonoma Valley Estate Old Vine Zinfandel: Aromas of strawberries, apricots, dark berries and cocoa

Favorite Wines of the Evening

IMG_0612 (1)IMG_0613After voting for the two top favorite wines, the winners were:

  • 2013 Gaps Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2013 Armor Plate Estate Zinfandel
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