Enter the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes
Those who have been fortunate enough to experience the stunning natural beauty of Sonoma County and everything it has to offer are sure to warmly greet the opportunity to return. For those who have never experienced its verdant, mesmerizing landscape, world-class wines and incredible farm-to-table cuisine – this is your opportunity to win an all-expense-paid wine country getaway to the charming town of Healdsburg, California.
If you’re following along on my social media channels (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) then you’re probably aware that I was recently hosted by Rodney Strong Vineyards for a two day mini-preview of what the two winning couples will receive and to help spread the word about their generous sweepstakes grand prizes.
Family-owned and operated and a pioneer in Sonoma County Winemaking for more than 50 years, Rodney Strong couldn’t be better equipped to show the two lucky couples the very vest of what Sonoma County has to offer. Below you’ll find the highlights from my trip – and don’t forget to enter! There is no cost or purchase necessary to enter, and the only benefit to me when you enter is the satisfaction of one of my loyal readers winning this amazing trip!
What Winners of the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes Can Expect
Kicking off the exciting program is the blending session itself, giving guests the opportunity to sit down to an intimate, educational session with the contagiously passionate Winemaker Greg Morthole focusing on Rodney Strong’s iconic Symmetry Bordeaux blend. As a Bordeaux blend, each year Symmetry is comprised of a combination of the five noble Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot – but the blend changes each year based on careful consideration by the winemaking team.
This is your opportunity to become a winemaker for a day, evaluating each variety on its own before creating your very own blend. The final blends are then judged and a winner is decided. We had a blast crafting our blends, and I’m excited to share that my final blend tied for first place with another writer! Curious what my final blend was? I chose 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot.
I had initially decided on two very different blends, but after tasting the finish product, I completely changed them – initially realizing that I had incorporated too much Petit Verdot in my blend and its burly tannins overpowered the wine. The blending session will really make you appreciate how tough the winemakers job is to craft the perfect wine!
Get Out and See the Vineyards!
What would a trip to wine country be without getting out and exploring the vineyards – and you’ll have the opportunity to do just that with a private vineyard tour of Rodney Strong’s most prized vineyard sites – led by Wine Grower Ryan Decker, who helped implement the farming plan for all twelve of Rodney Strong’s estate vineyards.
During our trip, we had the opportunity to visit Alexander’s Crown Vineyard (the vineyard pictured above, and located where vintner Tom Klein resides with his family) and Rockaway Vineyard. These vineyards provide the foundation for Rodney Strong’s acclaimed single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon offerings.
While both vineyards result in perennially compelling wines, the Alexander’s Crown is consistently a favorite of mine. Here the fog cover moves in early and the slightly cooler site results in Cabernet Sauvignon possessing gorgeous restraint and finesse, with hints of dusty wild herbs and subtle green notes framing its stunningly pure core of creme de cassis. Fun fact: Alexander’s Crown was Sonoma County’s first single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – first released in 1974.
Despite his profound successes and cunning business savvy, Tom Klein could not have been more warm and down to earth. He’s a fourth generation California farmer with a profound connection to this land. During our visit he graciously opened up his home to us and personally gave us a tour of his home and the Alexander’s Crown Vineyard.
Vintner Tom Klein showing off the well-drained, rocky soils of Alexander’s Crown Vineyard.
The stunning, panoramic view from Rockaway Vineyard in Alexander Valley.
Where You’ll Stay | The Vintner’s Inn
I really enjoyed our stay at the Vintner’s Inn. The rooms were spacious and comfortable, and I got to wake up to a view of this gorgeous courtyard each day.
My room was on the second floor with direct courtyard view and a small patio with seating for two. Just the perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee or a glass of Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc before dinner. (Where my main photo was expertly captured by the talented Briana Garcia of Shop Tiki.)
And let’s not forget the food! Just a few of my favorite pairings…
Seared Halibut in a clam chowder broth paired beautifully with the 2015 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay. It’s flavors of creme brûlée and butterscotch melded seamlessly with the creamy richness of the broth.
Rodney Strong’s Cooley Ranch Syrah sang alongside wood-fried pizza at Diavola’s Pizzeria.
Alexander’s Crown is consistently one of Sonoma County’s finest expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 was really in a sweet spot, with hints of menthol and mint framing a gorgeous core of creme de cassis and tobacco nuances. Pure elegance, and gorgeous with lamb loin on Rodney Strong’s new terrace where guests can dine overlooking the vineyards.
*Rodney Strong hosted me during my stay in Sonoma. All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. Main photo credit: Briana Garcia of Shop Tiki.