New Ram’s Gate Winery dazzles
The Accidental Vinophile, Dave Karraker, goes beyond the Grand Opening party and finds a gem.
Standing sentinel on a slow rise at the very edge of the Carneros wine growing region of Sonoma Valley, the recently christened Ram’s Gate might be the only winery across the globe that overlooks a world-class motor speedway. But, that unique feature is hardly the calling card of the Valley’s latest gem.
With a focus on what one might call an “open arms” design philosophy, the featured attraction of Ram’s Gate is the broad public spaces that manage to be communal and private at the same time. Renowned architect Howard Backen (Harlan Estate and Bond) and interior designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy (Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong) have created a destination that blends the best of modern design with warm inviting conversation pits, where delightful small-bottling pinots and chardonnays can be savored with old and new friends alike while nibbling on “farm-to-tasting-room” bites from executive chef Jason Rose (Locanda, Delfina).
The inspired dueling-barn structures that house Ram’s Gate stand tall on the former Roche Vineyards hillside. Sweeping views of the surrounding Valley seem to peer at you from every angle, attempting to pull your gaze away from the 30 foot ceilings, the picnic-perfect pond or the open kitchen where guests might be beckoned to test their culinary skills alongside the talented staff.
But, as this is called a winery, the surroundings and food cannot out-dazzle the wine itself. And, in this regard, the wine is not a member of the chorus – it is the lead performer. Winemaker Jeff Gaffner (Saxon Brown, Chateau St. Jean) makes good use of his 25 years of experience, delivering an intriguing, welcoming portfolio of estate and single-vineyard wines that are the perfect complement to this unique destination.
Ram’s Gate is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Accidental Vinophile is Dave Karraker, a comedian and writer who splits his time between Sonoma, San Francisco, his two Rhodesian ridgebacks and 61 Ford Thunderbirds. You can find more on Dave at www.davekarraker.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dave on Twitter: @davekarraker