Sipping in Sonoma

I recently visited Sonoma for the first time. Sonoma is a much larger county than Napa and is also home to a number of award-winning tasting rooms, vineyards, and wineries. I also visited Napa on this trip, but that’s for a different blog post.

First, the accomodations and planning. I put out the call late last year to see if anyone I knew was interested in a trip to California wine country and got two takers. A third friend that lives in San Jose met us in Sonoma. We stayed at the Inn at Sonoma. While not the most affordable option in Sonoma, I’d completely stay at this place again. The inn has nice touches like free breakfast and a wine and cheese hour daily. The rooms were spacious with high ceilings and modern decor, as well as a tv, mini fridge and fireplace. It was within walking distance of Sonoma Plaza.

So where did I go to eat and drink?

Fulcrum Wines

Our first stop right off the plane was Fulcrum Wines. Fulcrum’s small tasting room is located right off Sonoma Plaza. On a Thursday afternoon we were the only guests and the tasting room associate was nice and chatty. We tried one of the many Pinot Noir’s offered as well as the Brut Rose. California is known for its Pinots and this was a good one to start with. The tannins were not overwhelming and the notes of cherry and raspberry dominated, with hints of mineral notes as well.

Maya Restaurant

After visiting Fulcrum, we had lunch at Maya Restaurant. This casual, Latin American restaurant was home to one of my favorite meals. The mixed grill here was great as were the uniquie margaritas being served.

Sunflower Cafe

Our experience at Sunflower was a highlight. This is a great spot for breakfast or brunch and lives up to all of the great reviews it has. The outdoor patio dining area is surrounding by fruit trees and the Sunflower theme is everywhere. Boozy drinks and great breakfast are always a win.

Anaba Wines

On our last day in Sonoma, we visited three tasting rooms/wineries, with Anaba being the first. For overall experience, this ranked number 1 during this visit. The outside seating is beautiful and there is a fun, casual atmosphere here. There’s also a bocce ball court, which I loved. Tastings start at $40. Our tasting included the 2021 Turbine White, Rhône Blend; 2021 Grenache Blanc; and two Pinots. They also let us try one of the Chardonnays. The Grenace Blanc here was a grood break from all of the Pinots and Syrahs we’d had. Anaba also had food options and wood-fired pizzas, but we came here straight from brunch so didn’t try the food.

Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Our next stop was Gundlach Bundschu Winery. This was a fun option with outdoor seating, a wine cave, and a pretty good Charcuterie board. We did bottles instead of flights or tasting here and enjoyed the DJ, charcuterie, and truffle chips and truffle popcorn. Established in 1858, Gundlach Bundschu’s estate vineyards are located 35 miles north of San Francisco on the southwesterly slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain Range. It’s located at the southernmost point in Sonoma Valley and has a unique combination of steep hillsides and cool valley floor sites that allow it to grow a broad variety of grapes.

Sigh Champagne Bar

Located centrally in Sonoma, Sigh is a champagne bar where you can enjoy sips and frozen drinks. When we visited two of my friends had flights, one had frose, and I had a frozen Moscow Mule, which was really good. This is just a fun space to visit and enjoy some casual sips.

Frozen Moscow Mule

Wit and Wisdom

For our final meal in Sonoma, we went to Wit and Wisdom. It did not disappoint. The wine list did not disappoint and the food was some of the best we had during our visit. I had duck wings and the rolls as an to start and halibut as my entree. Everything was cooked perfectly. The halibut was delicate and seasoned well and was served with ratatouille. The atmosphere is one that could work for a girls night birthday which is what we went for; a date night spot; or a family dinner. The open air dining experience was a good one, with most of the area being enclosed.

Winery Spotlight: Mount Ida Tasting Room and Taphouse

I’ve been to Mount Ida multiple times, but have never put it on the blog, so here we are. Located in Scottsville, Mount Ida is comprised of multiple event venues and two neighborhoods of homes. It reminds you of just how much money is being poured into this area, and it’s beautiful. The Tasting Room and Taphouse consists of multiple seating options, bars inside and outside, and views that can compete with those of any other Virginia winery.

I love taking people here, because the reaction of first-time visitors is always one of complete awe that this space exists so close to the place they call home, the other reason is the staff is always attentive and the pours are generous. They also have a full kitchen which serves up quality food options.

The wine at Mount Ida is good. On my latest visit with Black Women Who Wine, I got the red flight they offer which included the 2019 Moonlight Red, Cabernet Franc, and the High Ridge Reserve Red. The Cabernet Franc Comprised of Merlot, Tannat, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, this choice is surprisingly easy to drink and well-balanced, with the tobacco aromas not overpowering notes of berries and cherry.

As far as whites, the Moonlight White (a white blend) and the Petite Manseng were favorites among our group. The winery also has two sparking options for those who are looking for sparking or want to celebrate a special occasion.

I’ve been here for pretty much everything – a day date, a work celebration, just stopping by after visiting other wineries, and now with the amazing ladies who joined Black Women Who Wine for our May meet-up. The venue served each occasion well, which is part of what makes it so great. This weekend was also a special case because the general manager accommodated us at the last minute due to a venue change, we had to make due to Blenheim being closed.

Mount Ida will always be one of my go-tos for out-of-town guests and event considerations.

Partnering Black

It’s 2022 and we’re all in this together, right? So why is Black Women Who Wine still going to great lengths to work with Black photographers and vendors and support Black businesses? One, it’s our party and we’ll support who we want to. And 2, this attention to Black-owned business is still needed. Unless there is an intentionality to work with Black vendors, many white-led organizations still intentionally (or unintentionally) choose vendors who look like them.

For me, I enjoy the soul and flavor that Black businesses add when working with them. From added touches to an understanding of expectations when it comes to event planning and curation, working with Black – and other partners of color – is always an experience set apart from others. There is a mutual affection and understanding that we’re working toward a goal and glad to help each other meet those goals. Many Black-led businesses and organizations get a great percentage of their business via word-of-mouth praise and community outreach. They give back so that whole communities benefit. Yet when white-led organizations are looking for services and products, their names are often looked over or not considered unless there is a person of color in the room.

Black Women Who Wine recently had a great photo shoot with Kori Price of Kori Price Photography, a fellow Black woman wining and winning. We look forward to partnering with other Black-led businesses as well this year and beyond.

We are currently looking to partner with local businesses on the following:

  • Swag bags for fall tour (set for October 15)
  • Transportation for fall tour
  • Cookies for summer kickoff (set for June 25)
  • T-shirts and accessories

If you’re a Black-owned business and would like to learn more, contact us at

Black Women Who Wine Loves Barren Ridge

For our April meetup we ventured to Fishersville, VA, to Barren Ridge Vineyards. Co-owner Angela Higgs reached out to invite us earlier this year and this visit was honestly one of the best tasting experiences we’ve had. Angela’s years in the wine industry shine through as she talks about the wines that her family business produces.

Everyone in our group agreed that Barren Ridge has something for everyone, and its Merlot was so smooth and well-balanced it made believers out of those who normally don’t enjoy reds. Angela joined our group at a table she’d prepared and walked us through what seemed like the entire wine list, including some not usually included in tastings. It was a real treat and she as the perfect host.

Black Women Who Wine at Barren Ridge

Now for the wine. We tasted the following:

  • 2016 Meritage
  • 2017 Port
  • 2018 Cabernet Franc
  • 2018 Merlot
  • 2019 Christof
  • 2019 Harmony
  • 2019 Red Barren
  • 2019 Touriga
  • 2019 Traminette
  • 2020 Rosé
  • 2021 Apple Wine
  • 2020 Vidal Blanc

That’s a lot of wine! Honestly, there wasn’t a bad choice, but of course we had our favorites. Mine included the Traminette, Meritage, Merlot, Harmony, and Red Barren. Traminette is one of my favorites and it’s harder to find wineries around here that produce it than in Northern Virginia. This one was pretty dry and citrusy, so somewhat different from others I’ve tried, but it was still enjoyable. The Merlot was one of the best Virginia Merlots I’ve had. It was surprisingly light with notes of cherry and some spice on the palate, finishing on a dark berry note.

The group agreed that the Touriga, Red Barren, Harmony, and Port were all excellent and some did enjoy the ice dessert wine, Christof. One of our attendees asked Higgs what wine she’d consider an aphrodisiac, she said the Touriga. Touriga Nacianal is another varietal we don’t see here very often, so this was a treat. On the palate you get hints of red cherry, raspberry and plum, with minimal spice.

Barren Ridge gets 5 of 5 stars from us and we’ll definitely be back.

Notes from Pippin Hill

Last weekend Black Women Who Wine got to once again experience Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Pippin Hill first extended an invite to us last summer and was happy to host our first meet-up of 2022 recently. The significance of the Pippin Hill events are that it is the only winery that has fully sponsored any Black Women Who Wine event and we’re super grateful to them for providing the experiences.

Black Women Who Wine on the Hill

Located in North Garden, Va., Pippin Hill always tops the list of wineries to visit not only in Virginia, but on the East Coast. It’s beautiful for sure and is just as much a culinary destination as a wine one. While there we tried various dishes including pizza, buffalo cauliflower, charcuterie, sliders, and desserts.

Photo: Courtnee Durrett

We tasted reds and whites, with the reds being the standouts here. The Cannon Red, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Merlot, Tannat, and Viognier, was highly drinkable with notes of blackberries and plum. Red Pump, another red blend was also a favorite. A bit spicier but also lighter than the Cannon Red, it also had notes of berries as well as peppercorn and tarragon. Both were pleasing on the nose and palate and didn’t leave a smokey aftertaste.

Other wine notes. The Rose here is good. Even those who don’t normally enjoy Rose reached a consensus on this. Of the whites we tried, the Zero White was the group’s least favorite. The blend made mostly of Vidal Blanc landed as the least favorite of the group. The white that ranked highest was the Petit Manseng. The crisp finish made this almost refreshing and I’m sure it is especially popular in the summer.

How to be a Black Woman Who Wines

How does one become a Black Woman Who Wines? We get this question all the time. Currently, there is no membership process or fee to join in with us. Anyone can show up to most monthly meetups and have a great time with us.

However, there are certain criteria you can fulfill to be considered part of our core group and receive the latest news and invites before anyone else, as well as priority registration and sign-up for tours and guided tastings with limited seating.

To always be invited:

  • Sign up to receive emails from Black Women Who Wine
  • Participate in monthly meetups.
  • Attend our annual Fall Winery Tour.

You do not have to live in central Virginia to participate in this group/organization. While most of our activity is focused on Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, we also visit wineries in Northern Virginia and other parts of the state.

We hope to see you soon!

Enjoying the 2022 Fall Winery Tour

Why Wine and Cheese?

Today is National Cheese Lover’s Day. Many people love cheese, not just wine lovers, but have you ever wondered why wine and cheese is a “thing?” Surprisingly, a lot of it simply has to do with the historical close proximity of the two.

French and Italian wine regions are home to wines and cheeses. As pointed out here, the French Brie region is well known for Brie cheese, but also tannic wine varietals. The world over you can find Brie accompanying wine during visits to wineries and tastings.

As you may have guessed there is also a science to pairing wine and cheese. A 2012 study took a look at astringent and fat sensations.

Photo by Anastasia Belousova from Pexels

Where did we go in 2021?

As 2021 comes to a close, we’re looking at what a great year we had. We turned two this year and visited a total of 31 wineries – 28 in Virginia and 3 in Maryland. So where did we go? Check the list below.

  1. Stone Tower Winery
  2. Bluestone Vineyard
  3. Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery
  4. Merriemill Farm and Vineyard
  5. Albermarle Ciderworks
  6. Chestnut Oak Vineyard
  7. Barboursville Vineyards
  8. Early Mountain Vineyards
  9. Hazy Mountain Vineyard
  10. King Family Vineyard
  11. Glass House Winery
  12. Keswick Vineyard
  13. Mt. Ida Reserve
  14. Crosskeys Vineyards
  15. Barron Ridge Vineyards
  16. 12 Ridges Vineyard
  17. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
  18. Wisdom Oak Winery
  19. The Reserve Tasting Room and Lounge
  20. Brix & Columns Vineyards
  21. Lazy Days Winery
  22. Creeks Edge Winery
  23. Eastwood Farm and Winery
  24. James River Cellars
  25. Mountain House Trading Company
  26. Stable Craft Brewing
  27. Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn
  28. Veritas Winery
  29. Orchid Cellar Meadery
  30. Olney Winery
  31. Red Heifer Winery

Ending a Year of Meet-Ups at The Reserve

For our last meet-up of the year we made the hour-long trek to Lynchburg to visit the Reserve Tasting Room and Lounge. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip. This cozy, well-decorated tasting room features wines from various Virginia wineries that you can enjoy inside or outside. If you want to sit inside, I highly suggest that you make a reservation as seating is limited. The tasting room also serves up amazing snacks, including one of the best boards we’ve experienced all year.

Photo credit: Courtnee Durrett

With a friendly and attentive staff and a prime location near plenty of resteraunts and shops, there’s honestly nothing bad about the Reserve.

Now, the wine. You can purchase flights, glasses, and bottles. Most of our group got the sweet flight or the featured flight. The sweet flight was nice because it included some favorites we’ve tried before like th Bluestone Bridgewater Gold and Cross Keys Joy White. Plus, these are by no means dessert wines or those with an elevated amount of residual sugar.

The featured fligt included a white, rose, and two reds. The Effingham Tannat and NV Reserve Jefferson Street Red were the standouts on this flight.

We’d defintely recommend a visit to Reserve and will be going back ourselves.

Christmas is a month away and for those with items still on their lists, time is winding down. Wine, cider, spirits, are all great gifts, but we know we all have friends and family members who do not drink, are too young to consume alcohol, or who live further away and we don’t want to ship liquids to. So, here are our picks for wine (and non-wine) gifts for everyone on your list. This list highlights Black and brown businesses (both big and small), as well as local, Virginia wineries and other businesses.

For your best gal pals

  • Unique, campy gifts from Faded Poppy Mercantile in Waynesboro, VA. Honestly, just support this business. One of the most respected businesses in the Valley, Sarah and Jason continue to be allies for LGBTQ, Black and other communities of color, and pride themselve on providing a covid-safe environment for customers and clients. Check them out for everything from fresh flowers to candles, mugs, bath and body items, and more.
  • Shop Shaniece B for candles. Black and woman-owned, this one-stop wellness shop is expanding into the growing luxury picnic arena in 2022.
  • Darling Boutique is a favorite in Charlottesville and it’s easy to see why when you step into this downtown shop. Woman-owned and operated, Darling offers a plethora of gifts and features Black and other small businesses and creatives of color frequently. It’s really a one-stop shop to pick up something for yourself and gifts for others. If you’re not already sold, it frequently helps raise funds for local nonprofits. Shop gifts online or in-store.

For your sister and your self

  • Renee’s Boutique is ready to meet all of your holiday season needs. Black and female-owned, this online retail destination has everything from holiday looks for you to great gifts for all of the important people on your list.
  • We hear a lot that there is no black-owned book stores to support in Charlottesville, and that’s true, but you can support the book shop in the Alumni Room at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. You can check the website to see what items are available or visit the shop in-person.
  • Mim Beauty is located in Waynesboro and a great place to stock up on stocking stuffers. The staff here is great and makes the store all the more fun to visit. It also has a great selection of wigs and hair to get you ready for the holiday season or to gift to someone else.
  • If you have people on your list who love plants, check out WeGrow in Scottsville.
Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

For the kiddos

  • Pufferbellies in Staunton is a whole destination. While this bright, fun space has some popular toy items, most of what you’ll find here are unique choices that will encourage learning through play. The store also includes a candy section.

Wine gifts

  • Support a black-owned wine brand and try Harmony Wine. Founded by Matt Harmon, Harmony Wine offers six wine selections currently. You can order online so really sending to friends and family is hassle free.
  • Cheese board deck at Anthropologie. Honestly, I’m giving these to all of my friends this year. What could be more fun than a deck of cards all about cheesboard and charcuterie inspiration? Not much.
  • Gift cards to wineries are still great gifts. Give them to some favorites or to new ones you know friends and family want to try out.