A passion for wine, charity, with a tribute to the Air Force and the Special Forces.
Brothers Mark and James Blanchard, came together one holiday to discovered they both had a passion for wine and both had the dream to open a winery. In the early 2000’s, while James became a special forces pilot in the Air Force, Mark moved out to Northern California and learned to make wine. In 2009, they opened Blanchard Family Wines.
Why you should go: For barrel samples, great wine, meet the winemaker, casual
Case Production: 1500-2000
Wines: Rosé of Grenache, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon
My Favorites: Jackson James Zinfandel and Cash Allen Cabernet Sauvignon
Location: 109 W. North St, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Today, Mark manages the winemaking and James the financials. Mark’s passion comes through when you visit their small appointment only tasting room and production facility in Healdsburg, CA. He proudly and honestly will chat about how he sources his grapes, how he makes wine, what it’s like owning a winery, and everything and anything in-between. He’ll tell you how sourcing his grapes gives him the freedom to choose the best quality and varietals for his style of winemaking, and how he didn’t inherit land or a chateau and so this is how you build.
Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs, A beautiful tasting room with a great view, Friendly Staff, in the heart of the Russian River. What’s not to like?
People always ask me if I’ve been to “Winery XYZ,” and most of the time I get to say yes, but with about 400 wineries in Sonoma County (and another 400 in Napa) I’m always making sure that when I say no I write it down or make a mental note, then I go check it out on my days off. I know, tough job I have. Well I recently checked Twomey Cellars on a whim while I was driving out to the coast. I’ve been directing people there ever since.
Twomey Cellars is owned by Silveroak (famous Cabs) and Twomey is their Pinot Noir arm. With a super friendly staff, beautiful tasting room with a great view of Mt. St Helena, and great location in the Russian River Valley (Westside Road); you can’t go wrong.
Why you should go: Impressive tasting room, beautiful view, single vineyard Pinot Noir.
Case Production: 12,000-15,000
Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot
My Favorites: Sauvignon Blanc — Great notes of ripe peaches and grapefruit.
Location: 3000 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
“For me, wine is an attempt to capture time and place in the bottle. It is a prism we look through, providing a glimpse of the past as we enjoy the present.”
Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc
I recommend people start their day here. Oh, and they have been know to give away their logo glasses with your tasting fee, but I’m not sure they do it every time. Also a special shot out to their merchandise buyer — they have great jewelry, shirts, winery branded bicycle jerseys, hats, and kitchenware.