Next stop on our list of wineries was Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma county, which was a small hobby winery started by James D. Zellerbach in the early 1960's. The winery is modeled after a wooden, slate-roofed building in Burgundy's Clos de Vougeot where an organization of knights celebrate Burgundian wines, which James was a member.
UC Davis professors used this winery for a "laboratory" for researching different was to make better wine. The most important breakthrough at Hanzell was the introduction of controlled malolactic fermentation that converts the harsher magic acid into lactic acid and carbon dioxide. This process makes the wine smooth and mellower.
We were greeted by a lovely young lady that toured us through the vineyards in a Land Ranger. She gave us the history of Hanzell and showed us where certain grapes are grown on the property. This vineyard is tucked on the steep hillside of Sonoma in the Mayacamas Mountain Range. They have resident cats, beautiful views, and a lovely chandelier made of a wine barrel that I fell in love with during our tasting.
Here's what we tasted at Hanzell:
2013 Hanzell 'Sebella' Chardonnay ($36) 100% stainless steel fermented, finished in 1-5 year French oak.
2012 Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay ($78)
2012 Hanzell Vineyards Pinto Noir ($98)
Our tasting table in the old wooden building above the winery.
The library wines room!