On our recent trip to northern Sonoma we were graciously hosted by VML Winery . We arrived on a sunny 65 degree Saturday to a winery boasting beautiful gardens, decks that begged you to take a seat and enjoy a glass of wine, live music in the tasting room and barbeque. This Texas girl was already happy. I understand that there is barbeque and live music every Saturday creating a relaxed almost party atmosphere.
Rachel Manning, the tasting room manager, greeted us and led us through a tasting of their wines. VML is mainly a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producer but don’t miss a taste of their Sauvignon Blanc with notes of white peaches, honeysuckle and lemon cream pie it is perfect for sitting under a big shade tree with friends. Under their Bradford Mountain label the tasting room does offer an excellent Zinfandel, Syrah and their El Grandote (Dessert Wine).
VML Winery opened in April, 2011 on the site previously occupied for 25 years by Belvedere Winery owned by Bill Hambrecht and later C. Donatiello. The winery is named for winemaker Virginia “Ginny” Marie Lambrix and is a partnership of Bill and Woody Hambrecht, Phil Hurst, Mark De Mawulenaere and Paul and Heath Dolan. In 2008, Virginia became the winemaker for Paul Dolan’s Truett Hurst label while producing small lot Pinots of her own, so when they decided to reopen a winery on the Belvedere property, she was a natural choice for winemaker. Ginny says “I pinch myself as I stand by our winery sign, feeling so lucky to be part of this sensational team who support my enduring fascination with the vineyards in Russian River Valley.”
Currently the winery produces 4000 cases of wine from Russian River Valley fruit, with plans to expand VML’s single vineyard Pinot Noir production. The focus is on single vineyard wines with fruit from sustainable, organic and Biodynamically farmed vineyards, limiting synthetic chemicals. Under the Bradford label, which uses Dry Creek Valley fruit, the production is 2000 cases with half sold at VML and the other half at Truett Hurst, their sister winery.
As for the wines, we enjoyed them all; however there were a few standouts. The Chardonnay was exceptionally well-made and delicious (Read Review). Amongst the single vineyard 2010 Pinot Noirs, Boudreaux was our favorite. All the 2010 Pinots are young and will improve in flavor and complexity over the next few months and years. On the Bradford Mountain side of the isle, the 2007 DCV Zinfandel was juicy and lush.
The unique and eye-catching label designed for VML Winery reflects Ginny’s approach to winemaking, organic and biodynamic. She’s been known to say she feels like a sorceress in the vineyard and winery, working with natural elements to create her wines. In a 2011 interview in Wine Business, Ginny was quoted as saying “I do believe there is something more to the vitality of the estate when the person farming it is completely engaged. Biodynamics is a really elegant way to farm, and I think the wines that come out of grapes that are grown Biodynamically are more interesting.”
The winery is located on Westside Road about 3.5 miles south of the town of Healdsburg and is open from 11-5 daily. Oh, and the barbequed tri-tip was amazing, even by Texan standards. Do yourself a favor and stop by VML winery and enjoy!
Yours is delightful insight into a successful operation made even more interesting since it is named after its winemaker. Curious indeed, since I do not recall other wineries doing that unless the winemaker was part of the ownership group. Would be curious to know how they got involved with her. Being a bachelor impressed by her beauty, dedication, and wine-making skills, I would be hard-pressed to respond negatively if such a possibility arose.
Ginny was the winemaker for other wineries within the same ownership group. She may be a partner, don’t know