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Amista Vineyards

News from Amista Vineyards

Amista Vineyards
October 26, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Meet the Winery Dogs of Amista Vineyards

Amista Vineyards Wine Dogs Torin and Dylan Making Friends

” Wagging tales and welcoming kisses, canines are often the official greeters and run the show at local vineyards and tasting rooms. Here is a glimpse into a few local wineries serving world-class wine with a side of canine accompaniment,” writes Mallorie Kerrigan-Deming in NORTHBAY Biz Magazine.

Amista means “making friends” in Spanish, and we love to welcome our guests and their friendly canines. We adore our Shetland Sheepdogs, and they delight in meeting the dogs visiting "their winery".

We serve bowls of water and dog treats, so visiting dogs can enjoy the equivalent of a wine and food pairing. We also have a self-guided vineyard walk with stops throughout the vineyard that is perfect for wine lovers and their canines who want to get out into the fresh air and enjoy nature. Our guests tell us we are one of the best dog friendly wineries.

Here is an excerpt from the article featuring Amista in wine dogs of the north bay: “The Farrow’s take pride in creating a home-away-from-home feel when visiting their facility, with the added benefit of borrowing their dog for the additional warm and fuzzy feeling. “Guests can sit on our solar-paneled patio or under the Mulberry tree,” says Vicky. “They’ll be surrounded by vineyards and can relax and enjoy the day with friends. We want you to feel like it’s your home away from home, and you can even borrow our dogs!”

Read about all the cool winery dogs in “Must Love Dogs: Wine Dogs of the North Bay”.

Time Posted: Oct 26, 2021 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Meet the Winery Dogs of Amista Vineyards Permalink
Amista Vineyards
October 21, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Amista Winemaker Ashley Herzberg Tells Why She Loves to Harvest for Sparkling Wines

Amista Winemaker Ashley Herzberg in the Vineyards with Grenache Grapes

"Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving me something to look forward to and dream about every year," declares Amista winemaker Ashley Herzberg. Sonoma Magazine asked Sonoma winemakers to share their favorite wine story. Ashley’s favorite story is about the harvest and especially harvesting for sparkling wines. She reveals why she finds it so much fun.

“I love harvest season—and so do my kids! As a sparkling wine producer in Dry Creek Valley, we pick grapes for our sparkling wines earlier than those for still wines at Amista Vineyards. School hasn’t started, camp is wrapping up and my kids adore getting out of the house and into nature. I love being out on these early mornings, hot tea in hand, watching them get as excited as I do. Being able to share my excitement with them is one of the most wonderful aspects of winemaking,” says Ashley.

Ashley talks about how her kids grew up in the vineyards. “Having been the winemaker for Amista Vineyards for 10 years now, my daughter and son have grown up walking the rows of Morningsong Vineyards, owned by Proprietors Mike and Vicky Farrow. My kids have toddled through the vines for years, searching for the ripest grapes. They’ve grown to learn how to use a refractometer to take more professional samples as both they and the vines have matured.

I love watching them sample grapes, help with leaf sorting, and experience the early mornings, the chill in the air bundled up until the work and sunrise warm them and sweatshirts are shed. It’s such a unique way to grow up. I hope these opportunities instill a sense of respect for the land, for growing and harvesting a crop and then transforming it into something others can enjoy.”

Read Ashley's story and those of other notable Sonoma County winemakers by Karen Hart In NorthBay Biz. the "Wine Stories".

More About Ashley Herzberg, in Her Own Words

I got a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2006. In May 2006, I moved to Sonoma County to work a wine harvest at Owl Ridge, a winery custom crush facility, as a lab technician, eventually becoming lab manager. In July 2007 I moved to Mauritson Winery in Dry Creek Valley as the Enologist, and then Assistant Winemaker. After nearly four years at Mauritson I decided to strike out on my own. I started as the winemaker for Amista Vineyards in January 2011. 

I fell into the wine industry in a roundabout way. My mom and dad love to cook and make dinner together and wine was always on our table. I like how wine brings people together, but I never thought it would eventually be my career. In college, I decided to study Chemical Engineering, thinking that would be a good degree to prepare me for medical school, which had always been my plan. During college, I worked in a hospital doing wound care and working with patients in the physical therapy department, and although I loved it, I realized being inside a hospital was not where I was meant to be.

After graduating, I decided to work a harvest in Sonoma County just for fun before I returned to graduate school. I started work at a custom crush winery in Sebastopol called Owl Ridge. By day two, I knew I was in love with this work and would never go back! I have loved harvest since that very first year.

As a custom crush facility Owl Ridge made wines for over 40 clients, which gave me the opportunity to see a variety of styles and approaches to winemaking. I was fortunate to work with and be mentored by some of the top vintners in California such as Merry Edwards, Greg Lafollette, Anthony Austin, and Scot Covington.

By mid-2007, I was offered an opportunity at Mauritson Wines in Dry Creek Valley as Enologist and soon was named Assistant Winemaker. In addition to making its own wines, Mauritson also does custom crush, so I was again able to work with several winemakers and make a wide variety of wines.

In 2011, after four years there, I had my daughter and decided I was ready to take the leap into consulting. I joined Amista Vineyards in January 2011. When I first started, we were making Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet, Zinfandel, and a Sparkling Syrah. I love sparkling wines and was excited to have the opportunity to make them. We have decided to specialize in Rhône varieties and sparkling wines made from our estate Morningsong Vineyards.

Over the years we have expanded our collection of sparkling wines., all made in the classic Methode Champenoise which is used to make fine French Champagnes.  Although we use the traditional method for crafting our Amista sparkling wines, 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 make several Rhône sparkling wines. Each one has turned out to be a pleasant and delicious surprise.

Wine is more than a job for me, it’s a lifestyle. My two children spend lots of time wandering the vineyards and sampling with me. They have become quite adept at determining when a block is ready to pick. And they love to get up at dawn and help with the harvest. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life - getting to do what I love and sharing that love with my children.

I also enjoy traveling and visiting wineries in other regions around the world in my (limited) free time. I am an avid gardener and created the first Amista Vineyards Winemaker Garden in 2021. Plus I love to cook, ski, and spend lots of time outdoors.

Time Posted: Oct 21, 2021 at 4:00 PM Permalink to Amista Winemaker Ashley Herzberg Tells Why She Loves to Harvest for Sparkling Wines Permalink
Amista Vineyards
September 29, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Sparkling Wines from Bubble City - First Up - Amista Vineyards!

Amista Vineyards Sparkling Wines

“Our Sonoma County, and particularly Healdsburg-based sparkling wines, are truly the envy of the rest of the world. These wines are simply the best on the planet outside of France but sell for half the price …” declares Peter Posert, after tasting an array of sparkling wines in our area

Read “A Field Report from Bubble City

Time Posted: Sep 29, 2021 at 11:37 AM Permalink to Sparkling Wines from Bubble City - First Up - Amista Vineyards! Permalink
Amista Vineyards
August 22, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Great Tastes at Amista Vineyards

A Toast with Amista Sparkling Syrah and a Cheese Board

"Dry Creek Road is a magnificent stretch of backroad in Sonoma County. What’s not so well known, is this road is...home to the only sparkling wine house in the area," writes Karen Hart in North Bay Biz Magazine.

"Next time you’re planning a road trip to Dry Creek Valley, make a reservation at Amista, bring your friends and your walking shoes and enjoy the distinctive, elegant wines of Amista Vineyards", adds Karen.

Learn the story of Amista and some of our favorite wines in "Great Tastes - Amista Vineyards" by Karen Hart".

Time Posted: Aug 22, 2021 at 2:11 PM Permalink to Great Tastes at Amista Vineyards Permalink
Amista Vineyards
July 28, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Sparkling Wine Tasting at Amista Vineyards - One of my Favorite Places

Sparkling Wine Tasting at Amista Vineyards, Healdsburg, California

“Going to Amista is one of my favorite places. You have all these different varieties of sparkling, and the still wines too. It’s such a fun place to hang out. It’s one of my favorite places for sparkling,” declared Marcy Gordon, co-host of the Wine Road podcast.

This morning Amista was featured on the award-winning Sonoma Wine Road podcast hosted by Beth Costa and Marcy Gordon. Marcy and Beth were in a studio somewhere in Sonoma County and I called in to chat with them from Amista Vineyards here in Healdsburg.

Start the Day with Bubbles!

The best part was we all got to start our day with bubbles! Beth opened a bottle of Amista Sparkling Grenache, a very special bottle that was signed by our winemaker Ashley Herzberg. She poured the first glass for Marcy, who exclaimed, “The color is beautiful!”

Yes, the iridescent rosy blush color is gorgeous, topped only by the flavors of ripe raspberry and lemon meringue on the palate. This is one of Ashley’s favorites and it was recognized as a Hot Brand from across the USA in 2017 by Wine Business Monthly. We’re very proud of this bubbly.

I popped the cork on a bottle of our Sparkling Syrah since I didn’t happen to have a bottle of the Sparkling Grenache at hand. This was the first sparkling wine we made back in 2008 and Amista was the first winery to make sparkling wine in Healdsburg.

A Collection of Beautiful Bubbles

We now have five sparkling wines made using the traditional Methode Champenoise, where the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in its own bottle. That second fermentation is what produces the fine bubbles. “I have a license plate that says ‘Got Bubbles’. So obviously, I’m drawn to Amista. There are a variety of bubbles; can’t miss that,” Beth revealed.

The Sixth Sparkling Wine in the Collection

I announced that we will soon be adding our sixth sparkling wine called Sparkling Tres in February 2022. We have a highly popular Rhône-style red wine blend we call Tres made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Last year we made a Rosé of Tres for the first time, so making a sparkling Rosé from the GSM blend was inevitable!

“I’ve never had a GSM sparkling,” exclaimed Marcy. Yes, it will be a first. Ashley and I love to experiment. All our sparkling wines, except for our Blanc de Blanc, are made with unusual varieties. Our vineyard is primarily planted to Rhône varieties so that is the focus of our sparkling program. We use only estate grown fruit for all our sparkling wines.

The Story of Creating Amista

Beth asked me to tell the story of our journey into owning a winery. That is the question I am asked most often. It turns out it was a dream that my husband Mike and I didn’t know we had and didn’t know we shared. We never talked about it. It wasn’t a plan. It just evolved.

It started when we lived in Silicon Valley. Mike saw an ad in a local newspaper for "backyard vineyards". We liked to drink wine so we thought it would be fun to have a vineyard. He planted 150 Cabernet Sauvignon vines on the hillside at our home. Six months later he decided he needed to learn how to make wine and crushed 1/2 ton of Cabernet and made his first wine in our garage. I made sure I was never there to do the hard work!

Six months later I was offered a job in New Jersey. Sadly, we moved before harvesting a single grape from our new vineyard, but we took the barrel of wine with us. After a couple of years of aging, we tasted the wine with friends, and it was great! Mike decided, "I'm a winemaker!" That’s how he got the bug. “The magic barrel!” exclaimed Marcy. Who knew it would eventually draw us into the wine business where we would be making delicious Rhone reds and sparkling wines?

Garage Syrah

Yes, and we made a second garage wine once we moved to Healdsburg. We called it Garage Syrah. Everybody wanted to buy it and our friends encouraged us to start a winery. So, we did! “Hewlett Packard started in a garage; so, did you,” added Marcy.

Amista Means Making Friends

In fact, our friends were involved every step of the way. They were with us when we said good-bye to our first vineyard in Silicon Valley. They were with us in New Jersey when we tasted that first barrel of wine. And they were by our side when we looked at several vineyards in Healdsburg. They helped us choose this beautiful vineyard in the heart of Dry Creek Valley in the countryside surrounding Healdsburg. That is why we chose the name Amista, which means making friends.

“That’s the feeling I get when I’m in the tasting room. It’s a lot of friends. It’s a spirited place. You feel like you are part of it when you’re there tasting. That’s what I like about the feeling there,” Marcy confirmed.

Wine Tasting at Amista Vineyards

Beth was curious to know what’s happening with wine tasting at Amista. I told her we welcome our guests by appointment and all our tastings are seated. Guests have the choice of sitting under our solar powered patio or under the trees, surrounded by our vineyards. If it’s too hot or too cold, they can go inside our large, colorful tasting room with a choice of bistro tables or comfy chairs.

There are several wine experiences to choose from. First is our sparkling flight. We are so excited to have it back. We were sold out of so many of our sparkling wines that we couldn’t do it for a while. We’re thrilled to be able to offer it again.

People can also do what we call a Taste of Amista which is a mix of our red, white, and sparkling wines, and they can add a vineyard tour or a cheese and charcuterie plate to their tasting.

Although we are by appointment, people can call us, or if they happen to be driving by on Dry Creek Road, they can stop in. We will happily welcome them when we can.

A Sparkling Wine Tasting Welcome

Beth asked about the people guests will meet when they visit Amista. They are going to meet an amazing team that is welcoming, engaging, and friendly. My husband, Mike, and I try to take a walk every day around the vineyard with our two dogs (Dylan and Torin) and we stop at the tasting room for a break and a glass of water.

I love to go around and chat with everyone who is there. We are always willing to come down and greet our club members or guests if they let us know in advance. And did I mention that we’re dog friendly?

That’s one of the great things about reservations. I can see who’s planning to visit each day and since we live on the property, I can pop down and say “hi”. Beth explained, “That’s what people love, to meet the winemaker or the owners and hear the story.”

We are proud to be the first sparkling winery in Healdsburg, California, with six sparkling wines, a sparkling wine club and a sparkling wine tasting flight. It was gratifying to hear that both Marcy and Beth enjoy our bubbles and heartwarming to learn that we are achieving our goal of offering a friendly, spirited tasting experience.

We would love to host you for a visit. Make your reservation to Taste with Us!

Can’t visit now? Listen to the Wine Road Podcast featuring Amista Vineyards and go behind the scenes to learn about sparkling wine tasting in Healdsburg, California.


Time Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 10:00 AM Permalink to Sparkling Wine Tasting at Amista Vineyards - One of my Favorite Places Permalink
Amista Vineyards
June 2, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

3 Discoveries at Amista Vineyards for the Perfect Healdsburg Weekend

Vineyard Adventure Walk at Amista Vineyards, Healdsburg, California

We are thrilled to be one of only two wineries featured in the FamilyVacationist article titled “The Perfect Healdsburg Weekend.” Even more exciting is that the writer, Christine Sarkis, uncovered three discoveries about Amista that made us smile. We couldn’t have said it better!

The 1st Sparkling Wine House in Healdsburg

Discovery #1. Amista is “Healdsburg’s Dry Creek AVA’s local sparkling house,” explains Christine. In fact, Amista is Healdsburg’s first sparkling wine house!

A Vineyard Adventure Walk

Discovery #2. “The winery has a self-guided vineyard tour with signs that explain the grape-growing and wine-making process. The stroll around the vineyard is a great way for kids and dogs (the winery is also dog-friendly) to work off some extra energy while soaking up some signature Sonoma sun,” says Christine.

Amista’s Signature Savory Lemon Popcorn

Discovery #3. “The tasting room offers a number of food-and-wine pairings and its signature savory lemon popcorn is always on offer,” adds Christine. Try it while you “sip estate-grown sparkling wines, including hard-to-find sparkling grenache and syrah.”



Still Thirsty?

Here are the stories behind the discoveries Christine uncovered.

How Did Amista Vineyards Become Healdsburg’s 1st Sparkling Wine House?

We never thought we’d be in the wine business let alone be the first sparkling winery in Healdsburg. The creation of Amista Vineyards was a dream that my husband Mike and I never knew we had and never knew we shared. It emerged slowly over time.

Becoming the first sparkling winery in Healdsburg wasn’t part of our plan, although to be honest, in those days we didn’t really have a plan. It all started when we made our first sparkling wine in 2008. That was five years after our first harvest in 2003.

We are now known as the sparkling wine house in Dry Creek Valley in Healdsburg, California with six sparkling wines, a sparkling wine club and a sparkling wine tasting flight. It’s been an exhilarating journey of opportunities, setbacks, surprises, and a lot of lessons learned.

I wrote a whole blog post about my Five Surprising Discoveries in becoming the first sparkling wine house in Healdsburg.

What Will I Learn on the Vineyard Adventure Walk at Amista Vineyards?

You will learn about the grapes, the wines we make from them and our commitment to sustainable vineyard management practices.

At harvest, a favorite activity is tasting and testing the sugar level in the grapes and guessing how soon they will be harvested.

There is more to see than grapevines. You can stand under our majestic 200-year-old oak tree and contemplate what life was like in California when it was just an acorn.

Then check out our backwater pond on Dry Creek that was constructed in partnership with the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The project’s goal is to restore the habitat for the Steelhead trout and Coho salmon that inhabit these waters.

Another example of our commitment to sustainability is our solar covered patio. In fact, you may want to let the kids and the dogs do the tour while you take in the vineyard and hillside views while enjoying your wines and popcorn at your table on the patio.

Why Popcorn?

One of our missions as sparkling advocates is to show people that sparkling wine isn’t just for special occasions or for serving only with fancy foods like caviar and canapes. We serve it with a bowl of our signature savory lemon popcorn – so simple and so yummy!

Popcorn & Sparkling Wine Bar at Amista Vineyards, Healdsburg, California

However, like most things on our wine journey, it came about because of a challenge turned opportunity. One year we were scratching our heads for something easy to serve at an annual event called Winter Wineland.

We purchased a popcorn machine and offered a popcorn bar with “cones” of popcorn and a selection of seasonings to try with our wines. It was a big hit.

Later we discovered how wonderfully popcorn pairs with our sparkling wines. My favorite is our Blanc de Blanc with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of lemon herb seasoning on the freshly popped corn.

Christine created a fabulous list of places to stay, eat and sip in Healdsburg – the same places we would suggest as locals. Read the full article, The Perfect Healdsburg Weekend.

We hope you’ll make your own discoveries at Amista Vineyards and come Taste with Us!

Time Posted: Jun 2, 2021 at 2:42 PM Permalink to 3 Discoveries at Amista Vineyards for the Perfect Healdsburg Weekend Permalink
Amista Vineyards
March 26, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Amista Vineyards - One of 6 Lesser-Known But Excellent Sparkling Wineries in Sonoma County

Sparkling Wines and Roses at Amista Vineyards with Vines in Background

Amista Vineyards is among  "...a handful of unusual-suspect wineries leaving tradition behind in the pursuit of more diverse and delicious sparkling wines."

"Winemaker Ashley Herzberg bottles a wide array of méthode traditionnelle wines for this Dry Creek Valley winery...with fine depth and precision," writes Linda Murphy in Sonoma Magazine.

Learn more in "6 Lesser-Known But Excellent Sparkling Wineries in Sonoma County" by Linda Murphy".


Time Posted: Mar 26, 2021 at 4:31 PM Permalink to Amista Vineyards - One of 6 Lesser-Known But Excellent Sparkling Wineries in Sonoma County Permalink
Amista Vineyards
February 18, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Healdsburg, A Happy Hamlet for Escape

Amista Vineyards Tasting Room with Yellow Unbrellas

“...a trip to this bucolic region is not complete without a proper vineyard wine tasting. A drive down Dry Creek Road offers a plethora of options, and for the lovers of sparkling wines, Amista Vineyards is the way to go," writes Fran Miller in the Lamorinda Weekly.

Fran's Tip: "Enjoy a tasting on their vast, covered patio that overlooks the vines, or grab a glass and take a 20-minute stroll around the vineyard."

There are many other delights to discover in "Healdsburg: A happy hamlet for escape" by Fran Miller.


Time Posted: Feb 18, 2021 at 2:21 PM Permalink to Healdsburg, A Happy Hamlet for Escape Permalink
Amista Vineyards
January 11, 2021 | Amista Vineyards

Wine, Food And Hiking In Healdsburg - Amista Vineyards

Vines in Fall Colors with Sparkling Sun at Amista Vineyards

“One of the great things about not having traditional snowy winters is that you can enjoy the beauty of fall and temperate weather well past the holidays. If you’re a lover of fine dining, nature, wineries and laid-back luxury...consider a road trip to Healdsburg, California,” said Cheslea Davis, in Forbes Magazine.

"For a particularly educational wine experience, book a 90-minute tour of Amista Vineyards. During the walk and sip tour, you’re guided through their sprawling vineyards while hearing all about Amista’s sustainably-farmed grapes and taking stops to taste the wines."

Read more about "48 Hours Of Wine, Food And Hiking In Healdsburg, California" in Forbes Magazine.


Time Posted: Jan 11, 2021 at 11:55 AM Permalink to Wine, Food And Hiking In Healdsburg - Amista Vineyards Permalink
Amista Vineyards
December 17, 2020 | Amista Vineyards

Vicky Farrow, Amista Proprietor, Named Advisory Editor, Wine Business Journal

Vicky Farrow, Proprietor, Amista Vineyards with Sparkling Blanc de Blanc

The Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University announces changes to its Wine Business Journal. Vicky Farrow, CEO and co-proprietor of Amista Vineyards, will join as an advisory editor to incorporate feedback from wine industry executives.

"The enhanced Wine Business Journal fits the Wine Business Institute’s goal to be of service to the wine community,” said Dr. Jean-Francois Coget, dean of the School of Business and Economics.

Learn more about "Wine Business Institute’s Research Journal Rescoped and Renamed to Wine Business Journal".


Time Posted: Dec 17, 2020 at 12:49 PM Permalink to Vicky Farrow, Amista Proprietor, Named Advisory Editor, Wine Business Journal Permalink

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