St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards is located just east of the city of Santa Rosa on scenic, gently winding Highway 12. The winery and its surrounding grounds are breathtakingly beautiful and serene – natural landscaping and acres of well-manicured vineyards surround the mission-like buildings. A statue of St. Francis welcomes you to an unforgettable visit.
The tasting room is large and airy, with open beam ceilings, a long wooden tasting bar, a fireplace for cool winter days and big windows to let in the amazing views and warm Sonoma County sunshine. Tasteful displays of wine-related merchandise (shopper’s heaven!) are placed around the room. The whole vibe is one of understated, casual elegance.
There are a few different tasting experiences offered here, including a full-on wine and food pairing. I opted for the wine and cheese pairing and was very happy with my experience. Three local artisan cheeses are paired with three wines from St. Francis Winery & Vineyard. These pairings change with the season, but are always delicious, educational and memorable. Here’s what I tasted:
2016 Estate Cuvee Blanc, paired with Tomales Farmstead Kenne (soft, mild goat cheese). Amazing! The lush aromatics of the white wine paired perfectly with the creamy, mild cheese.
2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, paired with Vella Dry Jack Cheese (kind of like a nice Parmesan or Asiago). Another perfect pairing! The rosy, spicy strawberry notes and silky texture of the Pinot Noir were fully complimented by the sharpness of the cheese.
2014 Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with Buff Blue (Blue cheese made with buffalo milk – I want to know who was brave enough to milk a buffalo!). This pairing was amazing! The big black cherry, mocha, cedar notes and velvety mouthfeel of the Cabernet Sauvignon absolutely sang in harmony with the sharp, creamy blue cheese.
My server was kind enough to bring out a “bonus pour,” meaning a wine that wasn’t on the pairing list, and I’m so glad she did! It was the 2014 Behler Vineyard Merlot and it was stunning! Aromas and flavors of black cherry, roses, baking spices and mocha abound in the lush, silky mouthfeel. I loved it, and I don’t usually even like Merlot!
Take my word for it and visit this special place!
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards is located at 100 Pythian Road, Santa Rosa, CA, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.