Wine Business Monthly today announced the launch of Sparkling Discoveries, an online community for sparkling wine lovers, makers and thought leaders. The press release goes on to explain that “the community aims to be the first brand-agnostic informational resource and hub for all things sparkling wine, including news, interviews and maker profiles, events, education, and more. Appropriately, the platform will officially launch on Global Champagne Day, this year falling on October 28, 2022.”
We are beyond excited about this launch. Our goal with Sparkling Discoveries is to create a brand-agnostic resource about all things sparkling wine. The centerpiece of the platform shines a light on the amazing people involved in sparkling wine, both in Sonoma County and beyond, by bringing their stories to life with in-depth interviews. Sonoma sparkling icons like Joy Sterling, Proprietor of Iron Horse Vineyards, Eileen Crane, retired founding winemaker and CEO of Domaine Carneros and Penny Gadd-Coster, of Rack and Riddle and Breathless Wines, are a few of the people featured in the initial launch of the platform.
Not surprisingly, Amista Winemaker Ashley Herzberg is among those featured and reveals how she fell in love with sparkling wine, making her first "grower sparkling wine", the bubblies she has in her refrigerator right now and what she hopes her children learn from her work as a winemaker.
Do you know someone we should feature? Nominate them for Sparkling Discoveries and help us build the community.
Concurrent with the launch of the new platform, Sparkling Discoveries is introducing a campaign focused on the trailblazers within the sparkling wine industry. The “Sparkling Stars” program invites sparkling wine lovers, wine professionals, and the community at large to nominate those who are making an impact on the growth, promotion, and future of sparkling wine. Nominations will be open until December 31, which marks National Champagne Day.
Sparkling Discoveries will also feature a “Sparkling 101” section with articles and guides on various topics pertaining to sparkling wine, such as the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine, Methode Champenoise defined and dosage basics. The goal is for Sparkling Discoveries to become THE definitive resource for the sparkling wine community.
We have big plans for Sparkling Discoveries, which is the first resource of its kind. We look forward to bringing the exciting world of sparkling wine to life for those in the industry as well as wine lovers who want to dig deeper into what this celebrated beverage is all about.
Photo by Craig Outhier
Phoenix Magazine just published an article called “Healdsburg Wine Tour”, and we were excited to be among the wineries they showcased. The article says, “Amista Vineyards, known for its sparkling wines, the winery has a comfortable patio with scenic views of its 20-acre vineyard and Mount St. Helena. We enjoy getting a tongues-on primer in the art of making bubbly while noshing on the winery’s excellent charcuterie board, much of it derived from the on-site farm and garden.” The article reminded us how much we adore our little town of Healdsburg and how much fun it is to share it with visitors.
When we first started visiting Healdsburg in the 1983, it was a sleepy small town with wineries in the surrounding countryside and a couple of great restaurants. Since then, it has been discovered and is now a popular destination. It has remained small and charming but can no longer be described as sleepy. On most days, the downtown is bustling with people checking out the shops around the town square or sitting on a park bench under the trees overlooking the fountain.
We now have many more great places to dine, and the town is packed with art galleries, boutiques and unique tasting rooms. The article describes all our favorites and goes on to say, “And for a town of 11,000, it boasts one of the densest hospitality biomes you’ll find in California, which explains all those best-small-town accolades. It’s quaint and seasoned, but unmistakably upscale.”
“Still, the thing I love best about the Sonoma County town is leaving it – or more precisely, hopping on a bike and gliding around the rolling, winery-encrusted foothills just a few miles up the road,” the writer declares.
Agreed! There are more wineries in Dry Creek Valley than there were when we first visited, including Amista Vineyards! The idea of starting a winery wasn’t even in the back of our minds in 1983 when we first saw Healdsburg while visiting from our home state of Colorado. It was nearly two decades and a trek from one coast to the other (Colorado to Silicon Valley to New Jersey to Nevada) before we moved to Healdsburg in 2002. We launched Amista in 2004.
Our little cottage, that we think was first built around 1918, is surrounded by vineyards. I never get tired of waking up to the vines outside our bedroom window. It is a pleasure to walk the vineyard each day with our two Shelties, Dylan and Torin, and pop into our tasting room to meet our guests. We’re in the heart of the bucolic countryside and yet only five miles from our adopted hometown of Healdsburg.
If you visit Healdsburg, we invite you to Taste with Us at Amista Vineyards in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. We specialize in estate grown, Methode Champenoise sparkling wines and Rhône varieties. Soak up our gorgeous vineyard and valley views and experience a friendly Amista welcome (Amista means “making friends” in Spanish).
Read more in “Healdsburg Wine Tour”, by Craig Outhier for Phoenix Magazine.
We have two kinds of dog lovers at Amista. Which one are you?
The first lives a car ride away, loves wine, wants to explore new wineries, or return to their favorites, loves their dog, and hates to leave him or her at home…so they bring them along. They are welcome at Amista!
The second comes from afar, loves wine, wants to explore new wineries, or return to their favorites, loves their dog, and hates to leave them at home, but couldn’t bring them and misses them terribly. They are welcome at Amista!
For the dogs we offer fresh water – current vintage – and doggie treats. For the humans who miss thier dogs, we offer ours for petting and loving, when we visit the tasting room on our daily walk.
If you’re visiting Sonoma wine country, you’re in luck. There are several wineries that are dog friendly. Amista was featured along with our dog friendly neighbors in “18 Best Dog-Friendly Wineries in Sonoma County” in Sonoma Magazine.
Our dogs, Dylan and Torin (both Shetland Sheepdogs or Shelties for short), love to visit our tasting room on their daily walks. They especially love to meet other dogs. Once they’ve made the rounds of the visiting canines, they greet the human guests. We can always tell when people are missing their dogs at home because they are eager to say hello to our pups.
“Several Sonoma County wineries are now welcoming visitors to pair vino with Fido in ways which both dog-owners and dogs can appreciate: fine wine and artisan bites for “Mommy” and “Daddy,” and treats, vineyard sprints and bowls of water for the beloved pooch,” the article goes on to say.
Our self-guided vineyard tour is another attraction that is perfect for dogs and their owners. You can breathe the fresh air as you explore our vineyards on a self-guided Vineyard Adventure Walk, created in partnership with the Sonoma County Winegrowers. See the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Chardonnay varieties we grow, learn about the wines we make from them and discover our backwater pond that is part of the Habitat Enhancement Project designed to restore the natural fish habitat in Dry Creek. The complimentary walk is approximately one-half mile on flat terrain. Dogs on a leash and children are welcome.
“After taking a self-guided tour of the property with your dog, taste Amista's sparkling and still wines on the patio,” says the writer. We are the only winery in Healdsburg to offer a selection of sparkling Rhône wines as well as a Blanc de Blanc made from our Chardonnay grapes. If red is more your style, order our Taste of Amista flight and enjoy a selection of our Rhône reds, Dry Creek Zinfandel or Rockpile Cabernet.
Amista means “making friends” in Spanish and you can be assured of a warm welcome and a friendly experience. Sit on our solar covered patio surrounded by our estate vineyards and gaze out at the gorgeous Dry Creek Valley hillsides.
If you’re planning a visit to Sonoma, with or without your dog, come Taste With Us at Amista Vineyards, Healdsburg, California in the heart of Dry Creek Valley.
Check out 18 Dog Friendly Wineries in Sonoma County in Sonoma Magazine.
Yes! Since 2014, every wine in the Amista collection is vegan.
Sonoma Tourism recently published an article showcasing some of the vegan wineries in Sonoma County. It explains that “Historically, and this is largely still true present day, the process of fining and filtering wines always involved the use of fining agents that included animal ingredients. There’s nothing unusual about these ingredients in winemaking, and these fining and filtering methods are still prevalent in most commercial wine-producing regions around the world.”
Fining agents are used to clarify and polish the wines to remove the small particles and sediment. The agents bind with the particles making them large enough to filter out of the final wine. They are completely removed before the wine is bottled, but the fact that animal derivatives were used in the winemaking process means the wines cannot be considered vegan.
In the early years, like most wineries, we used fining agents for some of our wines. Since Ashley Herzberg joined as winemaker in 2011, all our wines have been vegan, except one where she used egg whites as a fining agent. That wine was vegetarian but not vegan.
Now all our wines are vegan. This is only one part of our commitment to make our winemaking process more natural, as the article explains:
“All of Amista Vineyard’s wines are vegan, as a result of the winery’s focus on minimal-intervention winemaking practices. No fining agents are added to Amista’s wines. Instead, the focus is on keeping wines in balance naturally, through close attention to the vineyard, pressing choices, and skin contact time.
Amista’s vineyards are farmed organically, the property is free of herbicides and glyphosates, and the vineyards are certified as Fish Friendly and Sustainable.”
Today, there are more and more wineries in Sonoma County that craft vegan wines. Check out Sonoma County Vegan Wineries for a diverse list of wineries from all parts of Sonoma County. Yes, we have something for everyone!
When you come, we invite you to Taste with Us at Amista Vineyards in the heart of Dry Creek Valley, just outside the town of Healdsburg. We specialize in estate grown, Methode Champenoise sparkling wines and Rhône varieties. Soak up our gorgeous vineyard and valley views and experience a friendly Amista welcome (Amista means “making friends” in Spanish).
Dry Creek is a jewel in the crown of the Golden State according to Allison Bailin Batz in her recent article for FabulousCalifornia. “As one might expect, the best adventures in Dry Creek are centered around wine,” says Batz. She’s right!
In addition to incredible wines, Dry Creek serves up beautiful vistas, acres of vineyards, and a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Did you know we have just two roads, two stop signs, and no traffic lights in Dry Creek Valley? You’ll be among the vines surrounded by tree-studded hillsides, yet only a few minutes from the charming town of Healdsburg.
Tasting marvelous wines is the reason to visit Dry Creek. Batz shares a list of her favorites. We are honored to be on the list with some of our own favorite winery neighbors. Here’s what she says about Amista:
Even though she narrowed down her list of wineries from 80 to 12 of her favorites, you may need more than a weekend to check them out!
Local’s tip: be sure to have some food as you venture out wine tasting. You can pick up sandwiches or deli items on your way into Dry Creek at Big John’s, our incredible local market, or pop into the historic Dry Creek General Store for takeout sandwiches and salads. Or you can order a cheese and charcuterie board when you visit us at Amista!
“Oh, we are not done yet! You cannot leave Dry Creek without checking out at least a few of the lauded restaurants and bars,” adds Batz. Totally agree and she has some of our favorites on the list. We also love Baci Café and Wine Bar, Campo Fina and Willi’s Seafood. You’ll need a place to stay while you’re in Healdsburg, and we have some nice ones. The article showcases several terrific boutique hotels.
Check out A Weekend in…Dry Creek Valley by Allison Bailin Batz in FabulousCalifornia.
Need your sparkling fix? Come taste with us. We have estate grown, Methode Champenoise sparkling wines and Rhône varieties paired with a friendly Amista welcome.
Winemakers love to make blends, so it’s no surprise that our local Sonoma women winemakers have crafted their unique blend of having a family, being a mom and making wines.
“Blending wine and kids, these winemakers work hard to create a healthy work-life balance in an industry still dominated by men,” writes Jean Saylor Doppenberg in NorthBay Biz.
Amista winemaker Ashley Herzberg shares her story along with other woman winemakers in Sonoma County, revealing how she makes it all work.
“When you are the primary caregiver to two kids and have a full-time job and clients who need you, it’s a giant jigsaw puzzle of many pieces. You can’t always get to all the things you want to do in one day, so you lean in and embrace it,” says Ashley.
“As a bit of a perfectionist, it’s a hard lesson for me to learn, but perfection isn’t the goal. It’s a huge difference now that the kids are older and are able to help me. They can be very useful at the winery.”
Ashley has been bringing her kids to work with her since she started at Amista Vineyards in 2011. In the early years she could be seen walking the vineyard rows, inspecting the vines with her son in a baby sling and her daughter toddling beside her.
As they grew older, her children made a habit of tasting the grapes just before harvest and giving her their opinion on whether they were ready to pick or not. Now they help with the harvest, arriving at dawn to climb up on the bins behind the tractor and remove the leaves and the grape clusters that aren’t perfect.
When her daughter was only 2 years old, Ashley started taking her to the winery as she sampled the wines fermenting in the barrel, sipping and spitting the wine in the floor drain as is the routine for winemakers. Her daughter “…was a very observant 2-year-old and had seen me do that countless times,” Ashley explains.
“One day I picked her up from preschool and the teacher said my daughter took sips of juice from her sippy cup that day and then spit them out on the floor. She wasn’t able to talk much then, so she couldn’t explain why she was doing it. But she had watched me spit out wine over and over.”
Winemaking is not always a predictable role. It involves Mother Nature which provides different challenges every year. “So, you can’t just walk away from it, and I can’t ask anyone else to take care of it for me. There can be long hours, and that’s a lot of hours away from home,” explains Ashley.
“On the flip side, I get to bring my children with me to work frequently, and we get some bonding time, enjoying how beautiful it is to be in the vineyards, and watching the ebb and flow of farming. It’s good for my kids to see that I’m working and that I can provide for us. I work really hard.”
Read the stories of four Sonoma winemakers in Winemaker Moms by Jean Saylor Doppenberg in NorthBay Biz.
Want to taste discover the wines Ashley makes with a little help from her kids? Come Taste with Us at Amista Vineyards!
The best part of my daily walk around our vineyards with my two Shelties is our stop at the tasting room. Torin (on the left) and Dylan (on the right) especially love it when there are visiting dogs to meet.
Yes, Amista Vineyards is dog friendly, and our guests are so excited when they find out they can bring their best friends to hang out while they taste our red, white, and sparkling wines.
I never get tired of gazing out over the vines or at the tree studded hillsides. You can choose your spot under our solar covered patio or beneath our Mulberry tree surrounded by our vineyards and breathtaking Dry Creek Valley views.
If it’s too hot or too cold, you’ll be welcomed inside our spacious, colorful tasting room where you can sit at high top tables or in the “living room” with cushy chairs.
Dogs would rather be out walking than hanging out on the patio. They love their walks, and we have something that will be fun for your four-legged friends and for you.
We’ve had seven Shelties over the years who looked forward to their vineyard walks every day. After years of testing they can guarantee that you and your canines will adore a walk through our vineyard.
Our Vineyard Adventure Walk is a self-guided tour around our estate vineyards. You can learn about the grapes we grow, stand under the vast branches of our 200-year-old oak tree and check out the habitat restoration that includes a backwater pond on Dry Creek.
The backwater pond is part of our partnership with Sonoma County Water Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the natural habitat for the Coho salmon and Steelhead trout in the creek.
Your dogs can sniff out all the dogs that have traveled the path before, along with the scents of the coyotes, foxes and jack rabbits that frequent the vineyards at night. You may catch a glimpse of the blue heron bounding into flight or the white egrets gliding over the creek.
After a romp in the vineyards, your pups will appreciate a bowl of fresh water – always the latest vintage – and a dog biscuit. But we hope your visit is more than taking in the views and entertaining your dogs.
We hope you will enjoy exploring our wines. In their blog post, Love Pets says, “Amista is a relatively recent but prolific venture, focusing on developing the essential flavors of unique varietals.” That is the job of our amazing winemaker, Ashley Herzberg.
We focus on estate grown Rhône varieties – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre – which we bottle as single varieties and craft into a blend of all three we call Tres. Plus, we have un-oaked Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and Rockpile Cabernet Sauvignon.
The post in Love Pets goes on to say that you can “taste a wide variety of reds, whites, rosés and innovative sparkling wines.”
I must admit that both Ashley and I love bubbles, which might explain why we make six estate grown sparkling wines.
We've even convinced my husband Mike that a sparkling wine is a delicious aperitif or the perfect accompaniment to a meal.
Our sparkling wines are innovative because they are made from non-traditional varieties and yet they are made in the traditional Methode Champenoise.
My go-to sparkler is our Blanc de Blanc made from our estate grown Chardonnay. Although it’s hard not to love the cult favorite, our Sparkling Syrah, that I call “joy in a bottle”. Plus, we have a wonderful collection of estate grown sparkling rosés made from non-traditional Rhône varieties.
Amista means “it makes friends” in Spanish and in addition to being dog-friendly, we are known as being just plain friendly! We have always believed that wine is better with friends and our friends have been a treasured part of our journey into wine. We want you to have the same friendly, engaging, and joyful experience when you visit.
Come Taste with Us and feel free to bring your friendly dogs.
North Bay Wine Tours answers an important question in their feature on Best 5 Sparkling Wine Tastings in Sonoma, “Did you know that sparkling wine isn’t just for special occasions anymore?”
We heartily agree!
They go on to say that California sparkling wine is just right for a fun wine country tasting. That’s never been truer than now, with a wonderful collection of sparkling wine houses in Sonoma County.
A couple of decades ago, before I knew we would end up creating the first sparkling winery in Healdsburg, I was frustrated. I love sparkling wine and the sparkling wineries I visited didn’t offer a sparkling flight.
Many wineries that make sparkling wines also make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, because those are the two traditional grapes used to make Champagne and sparkling wines. The tasting flights would usually have a mix of each. I just wanted to taste bubbles!
That’s why since we made our first sparkling wine in 2008, it’s been my aspiration to offer a sparkling flight here at Amista. It turns out that it’s a lot easier said than done. First, you must consistently make more than one sparkling wine. You can’t have a “flight” with just one wine!
We made our first sparkling wine - from an unusual variety, Syrah - in 2008. We kept it a bit of a secret because we only made a few dozen cases, and we clearly didn’t have enough to offer a sparkling wine tasting flight.
In 2011 we started making our second sparkling wine, a Blanc de Blancs from a more traditional variety. A Blanc de Blancs, ours included, is typically made from Chardonnay grapes. Our first Blanc de Blanc scored 91 points and was awarded a gold medal at the Best of the Best North Coast Wine Competition. Our sparkling wines were no longer a secret, but we still didn’t have enough to offer a sparkling flight.
Then in 2013, we went all out and added three more sparkling wines to our collection. In 2014, we had enough sparkling wines to launch the first sparkling wine club in Healdsburg. That was another of my pet peeves – some so-called sparkling houses didn’t have a sparkling-only wine club.
I thought surely now we would have enough sparkling wines to offer our guests a sparkling flight. I couldn’t wait! But I had to wait and I’m not that patient. It wasn’t until 2016 that we consistently had enough bubbles to offer a sparkling flight.
Then I discovered there was good news and bad. The good news was that our sparkling wines were wildly popular and started selling out before the next release. The bad news was that there were times during the year when we only had two sparkling wines available. Two wines do not make a sparkling flight!
My challenge was to learn to juggle, balance and shift things around to make sure we have enough bubbles for our loyal sparkling club members and at the same time have enough sparkling wine for sparkling flights and for bubbles lovers to purchase in the tasting room.
We are working hard to craft new sparkling wines and make more of our current offerings so we can continue to delight our sparkling loving guests. We now have five sparkling wines in our portfolio, Sparkling Syrah, Blanc de Blanc, Sparkling Grenache, Sparkling Mataró (100% Mourvèdre) and Fusión (a blend the color of a Blanc de Noir).
In February 2022 we will debut Sparkling Tres, a sparkling rosé made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. We made only 73 cases for the first release, which will be allocated to our sparkling club members.
Sparkling Tres is so delicious that my goal is to make enough so more people can discover this sparkling rosé crafted from the grapes that make up a classic Rhône-style GSM (Grenache, Syrah Mourvèdre) blend. This is a unique sparkling blend.
I always say that our winemaker, Ashley Herzberg, and I make sparkling wines for ourselves, but we’re delighted to share. In fact, that is one of my joys, to introduce sparkling lovers to wines made from non-traditional grape varieties. Our focus is on Rhône varieties because that’s what we grow.
Our sparkling wines are all grown on our estate vineyards, which we named Morningsong, in the heart of Dry Creek Valley situated in the beautiful countryside surrounding Healdsburg, California. Growing our own grapes allows us to farm and harvest them specifically for sparkling wines.
Although we use non-traditional grapes, we use the traditional method to craft our sparkling wines. The Methode Champenoise is the process used to make the finest French Champagne. What distinguishes this method from other ways of making sparkling wines, is that the wine goes through a second fermentation in its own bottle. It is this secondary fermentation that makes the wine “sparkle” and creates the delicate stream of bubbles ascending in the glass.
When you visit Amista, we want you to have a truly sparkling experience – delicate bubbles ascending in your glass, delicious sparkling wines made from unique varieties, in a relaxed and friendly environment. You can choose to sit under our solar covered patio or under the trees, surrounded by vineyards and gorgeous Dry Creek Valley views or in our rustic, festive barn. In addition to our sparkling flight, we offer a Taste of Amista with a wonderful collection of red, white, and rosé wines. And did I mention we’re dog friendly?
We invite you to make a reservation to Taste with Us!
Check out the Best 5 Sparkling Wine Tastings in Sonoma (plus other great options for wine tours in Sonoma
Winemaker Ashley Herzberg and I had the pleasure of sitting down in the KSRO studio with Jeff Davis to talk about the Amista Vineyards story and our sparkling wines. We are proud to be the only estate-grown sparkling wine house in Healdsburg, so we were excited to talk about our bubbles.
Turns out Jeff had other plans. He made us wait until the second half of the program! I won’t make you wait. I will save the Amista story for another blog post and dive right into exploring our collection of Amista sparkling wines.
Yes, Ashley and I both adore sparkling wines. There’s something joyous about sipping a glass of bubbles. I don’t believe in saving it for a special occasion. In fact, popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly makes any moment – or meal – more special. I know Ashley shares my love of sparkling wine, although I suspect she loves making it even more.
Ashley talked about making sparkling wine, which she had not done until joining Amista in 2011. “It’s really a unique process. I had never worked with sparkling wines before Amista. It was a learning curve and it’s been great. It’s been amazing.” She admits that there was a bit to learn. “Once I got over the fear of the unknown - when do I pick? when are they ripe? what am I looking for? - once I got over that part, it’s been amazing and so much fun."
Ashley explained that at Amista we use the traditional method, Methode Champenoise, for making sparkling wines and the grapes are picked earlier around 19 brix (a measure of the sugar content in the grapes) which is about 5 brix earlier than for still wine.
Picking earlier means the grapes have a nice acidity, and the lower sugar translates into a lower alcohol level in the wine. This is important because if the alcohol is too high the yeast does not ferment in the bottle – the alcohol kills it. And it’s that reaction of the sugar and the yeast that creates the bubbles in a sparkling wine.
Yes, and that was BA - Before Ashley. We harvested it in 2008. It was a happy experiment that launched our foray into sparkling wines.
Jeff had stopped by our tasting room in Dry Creek Valley the day before our interview to pick up a bottle of our Sparkling Syrah. He had it chilled and waiting to share with his wife when she arrived home. She didn’t show up right away and he just couldn’t wait any longer. "I had to pop the cork (I know the feeling). Sparkling Syrah is such a beautiful wine. It just says holidays."
Yes. Blanc de Blanc was our second sparkling wine. Chardonnay is one of the classic grapes used to make Champagne. Ashley and I conspired to make it only months after she came on board as our winemaker in 2011. That’s when I knew we had a common passion for bubbles.
We also have Rhone varieties, all grown in our estate Morningsong Vineyards, so we make sparkling wines from those grapes. Ashley and I love to use non-traditional grapes. The classic grapes used in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Since we specialize in red Rhône varieties, we decided to try making Rhône sparkling wines. Each one has turned out to be a pleasant and delicious surprise.
Ashley explained, “All our sparkling wines are low dosage (which means they are dry) and super food friendly. We were the first winery in Dry Creek Valley to make estate grown sparkling wines. We’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Jeff asked about our Sparkling Fusión, wondering if it is our version of a Blanc de Noir. The answer is yes, although it breaks with tradition, once again. The classic Blanc de noir is made from pinot noir grapes that are not pressed with the skins, resulting in a white wine made from red grapes, thus the name, which means white from red.
The Amista Sparkling Fusión is a blend made mostly from Chardonnay grapes (usually 80%) with a small amount of Syrah and Grenache. Sometimes we use Mourvèdre instead of Syrah. I suppose we should call it a Blanc de Blanc et Blanc de Noir, but that didn’t fit on the label, so we named it Fusión. Of course, fusion means the process of joining things together. That’s why I love to give it as a wedding or engagement gift or serve it at reunions.
Speaking of Mourvèdre, Jeff was also curious about our Sparkling Mataró, made from 100% Mourvèdre grapes. We first made it in 2016 – just 33 cases. Typically, Mourvèdre is a blending wine but being non-traditional, we made our first single varietal - still not sparkling - Mourvèdre in 2012.
It was quite popular so we thought it would be fun to try as a sparkling wine. Ashley says, “It’s become one of my favorites. It’s intensely fruit toned with nice acidity.” We had it the other night with a seafood paella, and it was beautiful.
Another wine in our collection of sparkling gems is Sparkling Grenache. This was Ashley’s innovation. She first harvested it in 2013 and we both fell in love with the delicate pink color. It tasted even better thank it looked, and Wine Business Monthly selected it as one of 10 Hot Brands from across America in 2017.
Next year, will we have one more sparkling wine to add to our growing portfolio. We will release a Sparkling Tres to our wine club members in February 2022. We have been making a red Rhône blend we call Tres from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre since 2012. We made our first Rosé de Tres in 2018. Making a sparkling Tres was inevitable!
Jeff raved about our tasting room, “It’s just fantastic, such a cool, wide-open space. And right now, it’s so festive, with a Christmas tree in the middle, all the way up to the roof and all those white sparkling lights shining on the bottles so they look like they’re glowing.”
When it’s warm enough, we have a beautiful new solar patio, which is a wonderful place to sip wines surrounded by the vineyards with gorgeous Dry Creek Valley views. The solar covered patio also provides all our electricity, part of our on-going commitment to sustainability.
One of the main reasons our guests seek us out, is our sparkling wine tasting, one of the few in an area best known for Zinfandel. Or you can enjoy a Taste of Amista that showcases a mix of wines, from our estate-grown Chardonnay and Rhône reds to a Dry Creek Zinfandel or Rockpile Cabernet Sauvignon. Healdsburg is a popular place to visit and we have something for every palate.
One of the things Jeff highlighted was that there’s always a splash of color in the tasting room thanks to Carole Watanabe whose art hangs on the walls. Carole often joins us for events. She has a glass of wine in one hand and a paint brush in the other, chatting with people the whole time, all while creating an amazing piece of art.
Yes, and it’s extremely popular. We partnered with the Sonoma County Winegrowers to create a self-guided tour of the property, complete with a map and signs at each stop explaining the varieties of grapes we grow, a majestic 200-year-old oak tree and the backwater pond which is another part of our commitment to sustainability.
The Dry Creek Restoration Project redeveloped the habitat for the endangered Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. The walk is free and great for families with kids and dogs to be out in the fresh air and learn about farming in Sonoma County.
Jeff wrapped up by encouraging people to visit dog-friendly Amista Vineyards on Dry Creek Road, just outside of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, California.
Listen to the entire segment on KSRO with Jeff Davis On the Wine Road Live – Amista Vineyards.
We are excited to be featured in Sonoma Magazine as a sparkling house to visit for the holidays. The article, by Linda Murphy, covers several fascinating points about sparkling wine. OK, they are fascinating to me. I hope you agree!
I’m sure you know my vote on this one! I enjoy a glass of bubbles before dinner and my husband, Mike, and I quite often have a sparkling wine with our evening meal. Amista makes six different sparkling wines, so there is something to go with everything. Have you tried Blanc de Blanc with fried chicken? It’s a match made in heaven. We always talk about how well our Sparkling Syrah goes with the Thanksgiving feast, but did you know it is also wonderful with a simple taco salad? We enjoy Amista Fusión with a spicy chicken stir fry.
No. There are several methods for making sparkling wine.
Amista wines are made using the traditional method, the same process that is used to make fine French Champagne called Methode Champenoise. This involves a second fermentation entirely in its own bottle that produces the fine bubbles and is the most appreciated method for making sparkling wines.
In addition to Champagne, which must be made exclusively in the Champagne region of France, other sparkling wines made using the traditional method include Methode Cap Classique, Cava, Crémant and Sekt.
There are other less time consuming and expensive ways to make sparkling wine. The article explains, “There are pétillant naturels, or pét-nats, which are bottled while still undergoing a first fermentation and closed with a crown cap instead of a cork. The French call this process méthode ancestral, with the yeast staying in contact with the wine until the cap is removed. Out gushes a fruity, slightly creamy and easy-to-drink sparkler that lacks the complexity of Champagne-like wines yet is crowd-pleasing for its simplicity.”
We haven’t tried a “pét-nat” at Amista, although I suspect our winemaker, Ashley Herzberg, has a plan to use one of our estate-grown varieties so she can give it a try.
Another way to make sparkling wines is called the Charmat or tank method. According to the article, “some wineries apply the charmat method to carbonate their wines in large steel tanks, adding carbon dioxide to create the bubbles. Like pét-nats, these wines are all about the fruit; they are non-fussy yet satisfying, ready to enjoy soon after bottling and typically cost half as much as méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines.” Lambrusco and the popular prosecco are made using the charmat method.
Champagne must be made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes. The finest French Champagnes are typically made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Most sparkling wine houses around the world follow the Champagne tradition.
A few adventurous sparkling houses, like Amista Vineyards, use other varieties “expanding the aromas and flavors beyond the more traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir," says Sonoma Magazine.
Here at Amista, our first sparkling wine was completely non-traditional, a Sparkling Rosé of Syrah, a unique and gorgeous bubbly that has developed a cult following. The article says it was “a relatively bold move in Sonoma yet a long-established tradition in Australia.”
It came about because of a class project at our local junior college. Our consulting winemaker at the time taught winemaking at the college and asked if he could use some of our very popular Rosé of Syrah to teach his class how to make a sparkling wine using the Methode Champenoise process.
As soon as I tasted it, I knew we had to make it for Amista. Mike introduced it with a flourish, performing the traditional sabrage (removing the cork with a saber) at our Sparkling Soiree party in December 2009, marking the debut of our first Sparkling Syrah.
When winemaker Ashley Herzberg arrived on the scene in 2011, the idea of making more sparkling wines was inevitable. She and I both love bubbles and Ashley is a voracious learner always looking for a new challenge. She had never made sparkling wines, but she was eager to learn.
Only months after she arrived, we conspired to pick some of our estate Chardonnay grapes to make a Blanc de Blanc, a more traditional variety. Her first try was a success, scoring 91 points and earning a gold medal at the “Best of the Best” North Coast Wine Challenge.
It didn’t take long for Ashley’s adventurous spirit to lead to making a sparkling wine from one of our other Rhône varieties, Grenache. I fell in love with its beautiful blush color. I tried the still version shortly after its first fermentation. If the still wine was this pretty, I knew the sparkling version would be a sensation - and it was! It was honored as one of 10 Hot Brands in 2017 and sells out every year.
We have since added several new sparkling wines to our collection, all made from grapes grown in our estate Morningsong Vineyards. In February 2022 we will release our first ever Sparkling Tres, a rosé of our popular Tres, a red wine blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
We are proud to be featured alongside what the article describes as “the power players in the local sparkling wine scene” from the iconic Korbel, which was established in 1882, to those that emerged in the 1980s, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Iron Horse Vineyards, and J Vineyards & Winery.
Check out "9 Sparkling Wineries to Visit in Sonoma this Holiday Season" in Sonoma Magazine.
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