Photo courtesy of Anaba Wines
As millions of us find ourselves currently ‘sheltering in place,’ working remotely, home schooling, or caring for loved ones, we seek normalcy and comfort in the smallest of joys. For me, a beautiful glass of wine is one of those joys. During these trying times, all Northern California winetasting rooms are temporarily closed to visitors, and wineries are offering novel ways for consumers to purchase, taste, and commune with others while enjoying a glass (or two) of wine – virtually of course. From Instagram live feed tastings, to Zoom happy hours, to doorstep delivery and shipping discounts, vintners and wineries are unleashing a bit of creativity, and in doing so, are helping to calm our nerves.
So, as we eagerly await the re-opening of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wine tasting rooms, I seek to whet your appetite with a few ‘Wine as Comfort’ stories. Peruse, and then close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting within these warm and hospitable environs, glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir in hand, as the happy laughter of friends and family surround you. Then make a list of the tasting rooms you’d most like to visit once we’ve turned the corner and life returns to its somewhat familiar rhythms. And it will. Cheers to that.
Photo by Rocco Ceselin, courtesy of Anaba Wines
Named for the Anabatic winds that sweep over Sonoma’s Carneros region, Anaba Wines was founded by Chicago born John Sweazey who desired to craft the sort of Rhône-style blends and graceful Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that had once captivated him during a long ago European sojourn. Opened in 2006 on 16 breezy acres, Anaba recently unveiled its new and stunning Vintners House tasting room and visitor center, a space befitting of the delectable varietals in its portfolio. Fans of Anaba wines can now enjoy their favorite pour in the manner the Sweazey family always intended, surrounded by gracious and uncomplicated hospitality.
Comfortable and elegant, the new Anaba Vintners House is a reflection of the Sweazey family’s relaxed vibe and their commitment to land and resource stewardship. (They plan for their winery to utilize 100% renewable energy by 2020.) As hospitable and welcoming as their own home, the Vintners House is a place where guests can escape and unwind. Large picture windows overlook the estate vineyards drawing the eye to the distant hills, while private seating areas allow for leisurely personalized wine exploration. The thoughtful space includes a long communal table and bar for casual tastings, as well as a light-filled room with cozy, intimate seating areas for in-depth wine education. The color palette takes inspiration from nature, evoking fog, water, earth, and even those Anabatic winds that give the winery its name.
John Michael Sweazey and John Sweazey. Photo by Rocco Ceselin
Designed to harmonize with the rural surroundings, the building is an amalgam of new and old world design that complements the 120-year-old farmstead that was Anaba’s original tasting room and administrative offices. “From the beautiful custom lights, to the raw metal fireplace, to the richly-textured sofas, we were very intentional about every design element,” said Sweazey’s son John Michael who serves as general manager of the winery. “My parents even added artwork from their own home. We wanted the room to echo the beauty of our natural agrarian surroundings and to be very personal.”
Beyond the landscaped courtyard, a bocce ball court encourages lighthearted competition and an adjacent, soon-to-be-completed paddle tennis court will become a focal point for club member gatherings.
“We’ve long desired to create a place for visitors to completely relax and escape,” said Sweazey. “This is an extension of our family home, and we want everyone to feel that same warm, inviting atmosphere. We’re now able to offer a much richer tasting experience, and create lasting memories for our guests.”
Anaba’s wines are crafted by collaborative and exacting winemakers Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, each of whom joined Anaba during the 2014 harvest. The duo sources grapes from the Anaba estate as well as from exclusive preferred vineyard partners. Meticulously-farmed rootstocks and grape clones are carefully selected based on each vineyard’s soil to assure each variety is suited to its environment, yielding exceptional fruit.
Photo by Rocco Ceselin, courtesy of Anaba Wines
Currently closed due to the coronavirus, Anaba Vintners House is typically open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 60 Bonneau Road, Sonoma, in the heart of the Carneros region. Visitor experiences include the Classic Flight, an introduction to Anaba Wines, the Estate Flight, featuring six single-vineyard selections, and the Vintners Reserve Flight, an educator-led comparative tasting of Anaba proprietors’ favorite small-lot wine selections, each of which was inspired by their travels throughout the wine regions of the old world, in particular Burgundy and the Rhône Valley.