By: David Wells, SomethingAboutSonoma.com Staff Writer
This private estate winery is tucked in the Valley of the Moon just minutes from our office. So naturally, we had to visit so we could share our experience with you.
Lasseter Family Winery began in 1993 when John and Nancy Lasseter moved to Sonoma and discovered their love for the art of winemaking. “We like to make the wines we like to drink, classic old world style wines that speak for themselves. To us, wine making is an art form; it requires passion and diligence to make world class wines that are momentous,” they say.
Partnering with Sonoma County winemaker Julia Iantosca, Julia’s approach has fine-tuned the vineyards and wines with her intimate knowledge to create five great wines including:
– Enjoué: A rosé blend of Syrah, Mourvédre and Grenache
– Chemin de Fer: A red blend with a focus on Grenache
– Paysage: A Bordeaux style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec
– Amoureux: A Bordeaux style blend made primarily of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon
– L’ame Du Sage: a JUST released old vine Zinfandel
We called and made an appointment for a Friday afternoon. It was rainy weather but we lucked out, and were the only two in our appointment. I thought there would be more people escaping to warm tasting rooms on the rainy day. The tasting room, or ‘Wine Room’ can host up to 10. But first, the drive into the Winery is something special. You pull up to these wonderful stone, iron and wooden gates—and the call box to which you’ll announce your arrival and the gates swing open. You drive alongside the rows of the Justi Creek Vineyards until you get to the architecturally beautiful winery, which was completed last year. You feel like you have just entered your own private escape—which really you have.
After taking in the outside beauty, enter into the Winery lobby and you see the offices on your left, the beautiful Wine Room on your right and ahead is the Barrel Room. The barrel room can accommodate more than it currently holds, matching the winery’s vision to increase their production slowly. You can smell the oak barrel and wines in this room, but get out before the misters come on (as they do every five minutes) creating the appropriate storage climate.
Move back out of the barrel room and enter into the private and inviting Wine Room. Take a moment to admire the local artist’s paintings hung around the room—as they are something fantastic. Glasses are set out in front of each seat with different shapes and sizes to accommodate the matching wine. Then comes the fantastic crackers and cheese spread for each person. I can’t even remember the names of the cheeses, as I was too busy taking photos of everything in sight to write them down—but whoever picked them must know their cheese—simply delicious.
The actual tasting is wonderful. You’ll enjoy great conversation with your host, learning about the winery, the history, the wine, the hosts background, and anything else you might want to know about wine, Sonoma, the Lasseter’s, your guide and more. We had the pleasure of tasting and making conversation with John Murray, who was an excellent host. John did a fantastic job explaining the wines and giving us insight into anything we asked. What’s also cool about the Winery – they are all so down to Earth: John said he wouldn’t be surprised if winemaker, Julia, walked in and had an extensive conversation with us. Before we forget, did we mention that John Lasseter is the CCO (Chief Creative Officer) of Pixar and is the creative genious behind movies like Toy Story, Cars and Monsters Inc.? Why do you think all of the animated movie posters are hanging up in the Sebastiani Theatre downtown?
A current project the winery is working on is the Tank Lounge. They are creating an actual seating area where you can enjoy their delicious wine INSIDE the tank. We can’t wait to visit again after this is completed!
We also learned about the Lasseter’s commitment to the 95-acre piece of land and how the Justi Creek Vineyards are organically farmed—quite an arduous process.
A visit to Lasseter Winery is a unique experience, and a special something you will remember for a long time. Schedule your private tour and tasting and let us know how yours compared!