Winery Profiles

Wine CatNeed some help telling your winery’s story or attracting visitors to your tasting room? Here are a few winery profiles I written over the years. Enjoy!

Ferrari-Carano Winery
Ferrari-Carano Winery is a feast for the senses – five acres of award-winning gardens delight the eye (and nose) as you wind your way up the driveway, the gentle Dry Creek Valley breezes rustle through the trees to delight your ears and the wines are absolutely delicious! Once out of your car, a walkway leads you through the well-manicured, colorful grounds to the visitor’s center. For good luck, stop and rub the nose of “Bordeaux, ” a 1300 pound bronze sculpture of a wild boar that sits just off the visitor’s center walkway. If you visit during springtime, you will surely be amazed by the living bouquet of over 18,000 bulbs, which are planted in colorful profusion surrounding the visitor’s center.

The Italianate villa-style visitor’s center sits atop the gently rolling hills of the Dry Creek Valley and the views are breathtaking. Inside the visitor’s center, you’ll find an amazing variety of reasonably priced gift items, including Italian pottery, logo wear, beautiful scarves, wine luggage, wine and food-related books, glittery jewelry and more. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best winery gift shops in Sonoma County – it is the perfect place to find that one-of-a-kind gift!

A dark cherry wood bar stretches across the back of the room, beckoning visitors to stop and sip a while. The visitor’s center’s high ceilings echo with the conversations and laughter of guests and Ferrari-Carano Winery’s expert hospitality team.

Downstairs is “Enoteca,” a wine-lover’s wonderland. Where a spotless barrel room once resided, an inviting wine lounge beckons visitors to indulge in a series of private tastings. For a nominal fee, visitors can relax and enjoy Ferrari-Carano’s delicious limited release and reserve wines.

Ferrari-Carano Winery’s winemaking team is crafting some excellent wines. With Sarah Quider in charge of the white wine program (and Pinot Noir too), Aaron Piotter in charge of the red wine program and Steve Domenichelli carefully nurturing the vineyards, the resulting wines are world class.

So, let’s talk about the wines…I had the pleasure of tasting a few of wines that this dream-team produced, and I can tell you first-hand that they rocked my world!

2013 Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County $14: I have always been a big fan of Ferrari-Carano Fumé, and this is (in my humble opinion) the best one yet! Aromas of grapefruit, pineapple, cut hay and white flowers jump out of the glass and lure the taster into a bright, juicy mouthful of Fumé deliciousness. You gotta try this wine!

2014 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $34: In a word, wow! What a great price for a classic Pinot Noir! Black cherry, spice box, rose petal and a whiff of vanilla delight the nose and continue as flavors in the seductively silky mouth. Mmmm.

2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $52: This is Cabernet with a capital “C!” Mouthwatering aromas of chocolate-covered-cherry, cassis, mocha and cigar box continue as flavors in the velvety mouth. Long, luscious finish. This wine is as good or better than any $90 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that I’ve tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot!).

Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, located at 8761 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA is open daily, from 10AM-5PM. For more information, call 707-433-6700 or visit their website at


B.R. Cohn Winery
“Oh black water, keep on rollin’, Mississippi moon won’t you keep on shinin’ on me” was going through my head as I pulled up to the peaceful, olive studded grounds of B. R. Cohn Winery. That is my favorite Doobie Brothers song, and Bruce Cohn, B. R. Cohn Winery’s founder is their manager. Oh, and his wines rock, too!

As I got out of my car and walked up the flagstone path towards the tasting room, I was greeted by Moose, Bruce’s dog and tasting room ambassador. Moose is a “Blab”, a unique blend of English Bulldog and Labrador Retriever. He is as wide as he is tall, with a frosted, wrinkly face, perpetual doggy smile and happily waving tail. Moose walked me up to the tasting room, then left to attend to some dog business. Moose is a celebrity around the winery. He has his own fan club and a limited addition wine, “Moose’s Meritage” named after him. A portion of the proceeds from the wine’s sales goes to help the local animal shelter.

The atmosphere at B. R. Cohn Winery is one of a relaxed, friendly Rock & Roll attitude that harmonizes perfectly with understated elegance. The first thing you see as you enter the bright, generously sized tasting room is a wall covered with gold and platinum records and pictures of the Doobie Brothers, with a signed Fender guitar crowning the display. A long, hand crafted mahogany bar wraps around the back corner, creating an open, un-crowded setting for tasting. The matching back bar and display cases balance out the room. There is a tasteful selection of non-wine items, including t-shirts, ceramic platters and paintings for sale, but the main focus of the tasting room is on wine.

The tasting room building was the original house on the property. It was once used as a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop, and much later became Bruce Cohn’s home. The tasting room was remodeled in 2003, with the charm of its 1920’s architecture preserved.

There are little touches in this tasting room that set it apart from the others. For example, every visitor gets a packet of bread sticks to cleanse their palate, chocolate truffles are offered to pair with tastes of delicious Port and music is always playing softly in the background. The tasting room staff is friendly and informative. They love what they do and it shows.

Relaxed Rock & Roll attitude aside, taste the wines at B. R. Cohn and you’ll see what all the noise is about. I tasted a goodly handful and they were all delicious.

The 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($20) is bright and juicy, with intense aromas and flavors of grapefruit, melon, cut hay and green herbs. If this wine were a song, it would be something like The Doobie Brothers’ “Listen to the Music”.

The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Olive Hill Estate ($50) is big, bold, and richly textured, with complex aromas and flavors of ripe black cherry, cassis, plum, spicy cedar and mint that evolve in the glass and linger through the finish. If this wine were a song, it would be something like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

If you want to taste and buy B.R. Cohn’s famous olive oils and vinegars, the newly minted gourmet shop next door offers a wide selection of foods and gift items. When you walk into this sunny shop of treats, the peaceful scent lavender washes over you and you might just sigh with pleasure at the sights and scents that greet you there. There is a whole display dedicated to aromatherapy, with bath salts, candles, body scrubs and lotions. Velvet scarves, teddy bears, cookbooks, hand painted pottery and all kinds of cookware tempt the discriminating gift buyer.

This shop is dog-friendly, too. Moose, Bruce Cohn’s dog, even has his own brand of dog cookies (for dogs only!) available for sale in the shop, and an array of dog collars and leashes sits near the front of the room.

A wide array of olive oils, vinegars, dipping sauces, mustards and herb rubs is artfully displayed front and center. There is a “dipping station”, where visitors are encouraged to taste a variety of oils, vinegars, mustards and dipping sauces. A well stocked deli case offers a selection of cheeses, meats and crackers available for purchase, so visitors may enjoy a picnic at one of the bistro tables that sit just outside the gourmet shop.

You will leave BR Cohn Winery with a song in your head, a good taste in your mouth, and some bottles (or cases) of wine in your car. This place rocks!

B.R. Cohn Winery is located at 15000 Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen. Call 800-330-4064 for more information, or visit their website at


Kokomo Winery
A tip for the wise wine taster – do NOT stroll into Kokomo Winery’s tasting room singing that Beach Boy’s song. You know, the one that goes “Aruba, Jamaica, oh I wanna take ya, to Bermuda, Bahama…” The friendly, knowledgeable staff at Kokomo Winery has heard that one before. Several times. And the winery is named after Kokomo, Indiana, where Owner/Winemaker, Erik Ross grew up, not some fictional beach town in Brian Wilson’s head. Be cool. Restrain yourself, and you will be treated to one of the best tasting experiences in wine country and Owner/ Winemaker, Erik Miller and Assistant Winemaker, Josh Bartels are making some fantastic wines!

Kokomo Winery’s tasting room is part of the winery, so the sights, sounds and smells of a working small winery are the backdrop to your visit. The overall vibe here is laid-back, casually hip and genuine. The floors are utilitarian concrete, the tasting bar is made of wooden planks laid across wine barrels, and big stacks of wine barrels behind the bar create a warm, rustic atmosphere. T-shirts emblazoned with “Peace, Love & Pinot” and “Inspiration Through Fermentation” are casually displayed on the barrels behind the bar.