Belden Barns Grape Stomp
Belden Barns is a farm and vineyard on Sonoma Mountain, between Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen. We were invited to their annual grape stomp. It was a clear warm day as we drove up the windy road from Glen Ellen to the farm. What a gorgeous property and a true hidden gem of a place.
Stuck in the Mud
Arriving, we ran into a little snafu before we were able to enjoy the event. We got stuck in the mud. Apparently the vineyard had an irrigation leak and although the ground looked bone dry, we ran into very soggy mud. Thankfully, we were pulled out by a vineyard tractor and were able to enjoy the festivities.
(Amber comments) Now I am truly able to call David a “Stick in the mud”. There may or may not have been some teasing along that line for the rest of the weekend.
After our rescue, we both agreed we could use a glass of wine! We were off to join in the fun and to taste the wine at last.
We walked back to the barn, in which Nate (the proprietor) had been pouring wine. By the time we arrived, Nate and his wife Lauren were stood on top of a bale of hay outside the barn. They were describing the details of the stomp event. Nate enthusiastically proclaimed that “You must do it”. Lauren countered with “No pressure”. (Then added a remark about people suffering from “clusterphobia”). I love puns, not as much as I love wine, but I was getting a good feeling about Belden Barns.
The Stomp was a family event; kid and dog friendly. The children having first dibs on the stomping. Alongside the stomping was a hose station at which those with grape juice covered feet and legs were washed. In addition, attendees could cut grapes from the first two rows of vines closest to the barn, ensuring a supply for the stomp. There was also a fruit and vegetable stand where people could purchase produce grown on the property. Amber was drooling over the fresh vegetables, but they were sold out before she could get her hands on them.
Belden Barns Wine
Leaving the kids to grape stomping we retired to the barn hoping to taste some of the wines produced. Standing in a barn, stepping aside as a dog wanders by or a kid rushes past, is not ideal for taking tasting notes. It is perfect for people watching and enjoying the wonderful atmosphere. We couldn’t stop smiling. The relaxed vibe and our impression of the wines left us hoping to return on a quieter day so that we may give the wines our undivided attention.
(Amber Comments): One of the things we loved was the property’s “Wishing Tree”. It is a place where visitors can write down their wishes and place them on the branches calling out to the Universe or God (whatever you believe) to hear your wish. We were so touched by reading some of the wishes that were displayed in the barn. Some were joyful, others were simply heartbreaking.
Belden Barns offers a wide variety of wines; starting with a sparkling Blanc de Noir. (Amber Comments): I loved the crispness with a hint of apple in the sparking wine. It was a sip I’d go back there for.
A trio of white wines featured a Grüner Veltliner alongside the stalwarts of Chardonay and Sauvignon Blanc. I am a fan of Grüner, but have only tasted one other example from California. That other California Grüner, which shall remain nameless, was a limp and insipid wine. Belden Barns Grüner Veltliner was a fine example of the varietal. It offered lean minerality with crisp green apple and mouthwatering citrus acidity.
Two Pinot Noir wines offered different approaches to the varietal. Neither fell into the trap of making big fruity wines. We found them to be well constructed and could imagine pairing each of them with holiday meals or just relaxed Sunday sipping.
The stand out red that we tasted was Epiphany. This is a Grenache, a grape used in France and Spain to make wines that offer complexity at a reasonable price. Enticing aromas of licorice and redcurrant promised much. The wine delivered with a palate of redcurrant and mint. This led to a long finish that was pure pleasure, with a touch of blackcurrant.
The final wine was a Late Harvest Viognier. Here a nose of honey led me to expect a cloying mouthfeel of sweetness. The wine led with an initial sweetness, which morphed to honey and lime. The bright acidity kept this wine from being overly sweet or flat. In fact it was gorgeous on the palate and would pair beautifully with desserts, cheeses, or spicy food.
We loved the atmosphere, the people, and the wine at Belden Barns. We hope to return and give the wines the attention they deserve.