One bright and sunny day in 2004, while wandering the Anderson Valley
(Sonoma County) in search of tasty whites, the Boss suddenly said to me,
"You know, I seem to recall there is a place up the road that
makes port!" That's another symptom of our problems cellaring whites: at
the beginning of the white-wine-only trips, the Boss instructs me, "Now
Dear, you may not buy any reds today. Only whites!" At the first winery,
we try a red, "just to see what it's like," and he inevitably decides
that we must have at least a bottle or two for our collection. If the
Boss's taste in wines plays out as it usually does, I end up skipping out
the front door singing my own version of a Pet Shop Boys song, "It's a
Zin." And for the rest of the trip, we purchase a mixed bag of wine,
though he does tend to remind me after a case of red is in the car, "Now
Matt, I thought you were going to buy whites today!" Oy gevalt! "Yes,
Boss, you're right ... reds are a little BUTCH for my taste aren't they?
In any case, as we wandered up Alexander Valley Road we saw the sign for
Field Stone, which was the very winery of which the Boss had been
thinking. We stopped at their very lovely facility and tasted their very
lovely wines. We didn't end up buying a lot of things -- as I recall, a
couple of bottles of Viognier, a couple of bottles of Cabernet
Sauvignon, and a couple of bottles of their exquisitely yummy port -- but all
of the wines were good. The port was certainly the high point of our
So, on our most recent trip through the valley, again travelling with
the Punk (the jaded artist) and Fruity (our *ahem* younger friend who
doesn't like wine), we decided to stop at Field Stone Winery for a
tasting and to pick up some more port. We were on our way out of Sonoma
County and into Napa County for a night of debauchery at Don's (our web
host) lovely getaway on the mountain above Calistoga. This was our last
stop for the day.
"Ah ha!" proclaimed Fruity. "Now THIS is what a winery is supposed to
look like!" Fruity long complained that the wineries look more like
fancy Italian restaurants than what he had always assumed a winery should
look like. He has a point, when the architecture is successful; when it
fails, it tends to look more like the Olive Garden gone horribly,
horribly wrong. Field Stone, however, looks like something out of
The Lord of the Rings. Set in the midst of their vineyards and surrounded by an oak
grove, the tasting room and cellars are carved into the side of the
hill with a large, round door. One walks through the barrel room to get to
the tasting room.
The barrel room on the way to the tasting room.
Sometimes you can smell Mordor from this hobbit hole.
The lovely surroundings at Field Stone Winery.
As we walked into the tasting room, I immediately espied another gay
couple just finishing their tasting. They asked for the port and
were informed that it was not available for tasting, only for buying.
"Ah well," said the one that I would imagine probably insists on keeping
the spare roll of toilet paper dressed up, "we'll just take two bottles
of the Sangiovese, two bottles of the Merlot, and a Cabernet." I made
bold to pipe up, "Oh, the port is quite good. I've tried it before, and
taken a few bottles home. If you like port, you might want to at least
get one bottle."
Now, I would understand if our fellow friend of Dorothy had said in a
cold voice, "I would prefer to taste it myself before making a
decision." After all, that would have been understandable since I had just
butted my nose in and Mary's boyfriend (who, no doubt, when Mary is out of
town has the rolls of toilet paper do little stripteases for him -- he
looked kind of kinky) was giving me the glad eye. However, instead he
just looked down his nose and sniffed. Whatever: it ends up that he had
no taste and I may have been wrong in my advice. (It happens even to me.)
The Boss, being the driver for the evening, wandered over to look at
the tacky implements on sale besides the wine (you know, the silly
coasters, the poster of The Winery Doors of Sonoma, and the little bottles of
magical fluid guaranteed to get red wine stains out of your silken
Fruit, of course, was looking for any excuse to wander off. The Punk
and I prepared to take the first sip of our taste of the 2003 Sauvignon
Blanc. I fear I may have grimaced; I leaned over to the Punk and said,
"Do you get a mild note of SULFUR in the nose?" The Fruit took this
opportunity to beat a hasty retreat to photograph "the only winery that
looked like a winery" -- for this reason, we have the lovely pictures of
Field Stone on this page.
Sadly, despite our previous success at this winery, the tasting did not
improve. The Sauvignon Blanc was, besides slightly sulfuric, somewhat
flabby. We skipped the Viognier after trying the 2003 Chardonnay. The
Punk's comment on this wine was, "Perhaps a tad too much ewe urine in the
blend for my taste." Since it seemed that the whites were not doing
well this year, we decided to move directly to the reds. The 2001 Cabernet
Sauvignon lacked bold flavor, and the Merlot was one of those that
simply did not have the necessary complexity and finish to have warranted
bottling as an unblended wine. I saw the bottle of the Cab being opened,
so I knew that it had not simply suffered from over-breathing. Needless
to say, we did not buy any port, either.