A Taste of Sonoma at Ram’s Gate

Photo © Rams’s Gate, from their website

Several months ago I ran across an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a new winery in Sonoma called Ram’s Gate. The article caught my eye in particular because I had just recently driven across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sonoma, and admired the gorgeous architecture of the winery as I sped by on Highway 37. My wife and I made a mental note to visit this winery soon. Before we were able to, however, I mentioned it to my daughter, who lives in the city. Before you know it, Kate had not only visited, but joined the wine club, thus proving that the apple indeed does not fall far from the tree.

Soon thereafter Kate suggested that we go for a visit to her new winery, and recently that opportunity came to fruition when my son and his girlfriend came for a visit. I picked them up at SFO, swung by Kate’s apartment in North Beach, and 30 minutes later we pulled into Ram’s Gate. The winery is the first one you encounter after you turn left from Highway 37 onto Highway 121, just after Sears Point Raceway.

When Kate had told me the details of her first visit, she pointed out that the architecture reminded her of my parents’ former home out in Portola Valley. Upon seeing the place with my own eyes, I immediately agreed. (I also wondered how Kate could have remembered, because I think she was only 8 when my parents moved out of that house.) Anyway, the winery was designed by Howard Backen, and feels like an über-ranch house cum ultra lounge that totally fits the Carneros region.

As a wine club member Kate was able to host the four of us for free, although the food pairings were on me. (Still not sure how that worked, but I was happy to have the kids all together.) So now this is the most interesting part of Ram’s Gate. The winery employs a chef, and while the facility is not licensed to have a restaurant on premise, they are able to prepare “pairings” of food to go with the wines. (Someone found a loophole

somewhere and exploited it marvelously!) The wine list we were given suggested several different plates to accompany each of the estate’s wines, which include a couple of Chardonnays, Syrah, Cabernet, a couple of Pinot Noirs, a Sparkling Brut, a Late Harvest Zinfandel and a Moscato. I believe we tasted 5 different wines, and chose about 8-9 different small plates to share, and basically made a nice little lunch out of it. Click on any of the thumbnails to see them at a larger size.

My overall take: the food was delicious, the wine good to very good, depending on the varietal. My personal favorites were the Chardonnay (although at $64/bottle it wasn’t THAT good) and the Late Harvest Zin and Moscato. The food, however, was phenomenal, and I will go back just for the ambience, service and the food (which I will happily wash down with their wines.)

Ram’s Gate is the perfect place to begin a day of wine tasting if you are coming up from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s the first winery you’ll come to, and you can put a little something in your stomach to prepare for a day of hardcore tasting. As you exit the winery, you are a short drive from either the Sonoma or Napa Valleys, so it could not be more convenient. Let me know your thoughts once you visit. Have fun!

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