Monday, October 21, 2013

Wine Country: Sonoma, Viansa Winery


Viansa Winery  25200 Arnold Dr. (Hwy. 121), 5 mi. S of plaza, (800) 995-4740, (707) 935-4700.  Tasting daily 10-5; tour daily at 1, 2, 3.  Built on top of a hill commanding magnificent views of the area, this winery is named for its original owners--Sam Sebastiani and his wife Vicki (the name comes from merging the first two letters of each of their first names).  The beautifully crafted Tuscan-style winery building was inspired by a monastery near Farneta, Italy.  Noteworthy varietals include Barbera Blanc--a light blush wine perfect for picnics--and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Sample them in the tasting room featuring two dramatic dueling wine walls behind two tasting bars at either end of the hall.  Wines are available for purchase only at the winery.

The Italian Marketplace food hall is designed after the mercato in Lucca, Italy, and the extraordinary food offerings almost overshadow the wines.  Using Vicki's recipes, the kitchen staff prepares wonderful things for picnics:  country pâté, torta rustica, hot-sweet mustard, focaccia bread, panini (Italian sandwiches), a triple-chocolate chunk cookie, tiramisu.  More goodies include porcini mushroom tomato sauce (made with Viansa Cabernet Sauvignon) and spiced figs (made with Sonoma black mission figs and Viansa Cabernet Sauvignon using Vicki's grandmother's recipe).  Some of the items are prepared with produce from the winery's own vegetable garden.  On nice days, picnics can be enjoyed at a bevy of tables on a spacious patio situated atop a knoll with a panoramic view of the Sonoma and Napa valleys.  The picnic area is on the Pacific Flyway and overlooks a wetlands that is a popular stopover for hundreds of bird species.  On cooler days, tables are available inside.

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