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A Field Stone Winery Review by Matt the Wine Mo
Email Matt at MattTheMo --at-- gmail.com

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Field Stone Winery
Apparently, You Really Can't Go Home Again

The Boss and I are always going on "white wine only" wine trips. The problem is that we both consider ourselves bigger fans of reds, so we buy reds more often. However, our taste is evidently more balanced than we think since we end up drinking whites just as often. Just like men: we don't know what we really want.

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? Bitch."

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 purchases.

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.

Step thru a hobbit hole and walk through this barrel room to get to the tasting room...
The barrel room on the way to the tasting room.
The Field Stone Winery tasting room entrance looks like a Hobbit's home from The Lord of the Rings
Sometimes you can smell Mordor from this hobbit hole.
The lovely surroundings on the Field Stone Winery grounds in the Anderson Valley in Sonoma County, CA.
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 doilies).

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.


I was distressed, to say the least. I had been impressed with Field Stone's wine in the past, and hope for good things in the future. However, I am afraid that I cannot currently recommend a stop here on a crowded trip to Sonoma. If you have time to stop at a wide selection of wineries, or have had a good experience with this winery in the past, you might want to try them to double check my last tasting. I'd be interested to know.

The Boss and I will be stopping back at Field Stone in the future. Their past successes suggest that our experience during this last trip was perhaps just the result of a bad year. I hope to be able to write a "they've recovered" review for you in the near future.

Last visited: March 2006

Field Stone Winery
www.FieldStoneWinery.com
10075 Highway 128
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-2231

Matt the Wine Mo lives in San Francisco with his lover, the Boss. Matt the Mo and Boss visit Sonoma and Napa every few months, sometimes bringing along their friends the Punk (the cynical artistic type) and Fruity (who doesn't like wine) to keep the tastings real. More about Matt the Wine Mo
Google Map. If you are in Healdsburg, take Healdsburg Ave north to Alexander Valley Rd, turn right on Alexander Valley Rd. At Jimtown, Alexander Valley Rd becomes Hwy 128 to Calistoga. Field Stone Winery is on Alexander Valley Road / Highway 128.

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