“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
"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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.”
Here are the stories behind the discoveries Christine uncovered.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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".
“...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.
“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.
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".
“While sparkling wine lovers agree that the perfect time for bubbles is, well, any time, sparkling wine pairs perfectly with the holiday season.” said Erin Hunt Moore of Haute Living SF.
"Dry Creek Valley has not traditionally been known as a sparkling wine region, but family-run Amista Vineyards took up that gauntlet and is now in its 10th year as the premiere producer of sparkling wines in the valley. Amista is owned by Mike and Vicky Farrow, with rising star winemaker Ashley Herzberg overseeing their sparkling program."
Read more about "Sparkling Sonoma: Bubbles from Your Backyard" by Erin Hunt Moore.
“This recipe can be used for any combination of summer fruit and berries. I typically like to have two fruit together – often one stone fruit and one berry, which go wonderfully together,” said chef Liza Hinman of The Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa.
Hinman’s go-to wine to pair with this dessert is Amista’s Sparkling Grenache"
Read more about "Craving Sweets? 5 Local Chefs Share Their Summertime Dessert Recipes" by Dana Rebmann in Sonoma Magazine.
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