Sanguine over wine tasting

When it comes to drinking fine wine, the value at Sonoma tasting rooms isn’t bad.

True, a taster can spend exorbitant amounts: Opus-1, in Napa, charges $50 for a single ounce. But at the tasting room of Eric K. James Vineyards, a small local winery with a tiny space just off the Plaza in downtown Sonoma, tasters can try six one-ounce servings for $10 – servings that come with elaborate descriptions of the wines being poured.

It’s not a big moneymaker for company owner, winemaker and Sonoma resident Robert O’Maoilriain, who described his tasting room as “a long-term marketing plan, not a profit center.”

Only a few dozen people could fit into the space he rents, located a short amble from the northeast corner of the Plaza. The room, painted purple, with white picnic tables, corrugated tin siding and shelves stacked with wine, was previously used for cold storage by Mary’s Pizza.

But it’s his hope that visitors to the tasting room – such as the couple from Texas, in town to visit their son and enjoy some of Wine Country’s best – will become fans of Eric K. James and, ideally, spend more money over time.

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