Potpourri of Tastings…

Any winery starts with a vision. No doubt, no one starts out to make undrinkable plonk with a tasting room that resembles uncle Joe’s rec room. Unfortunately it happens. Thankfully, not too often in Napa and Sonoma. Especially so at Sonoma’s Ram’s Gate Winery.

Only in biz since the fall of 2011, Ram’s Gate has got such fantastic facilities from its chic tasting room to the outdoor fireplace on the deck, to the private dining room, Ram’s Gate Winery is class all the way, which must have started with managing owner Jeff O’Neill’s vision and passion.

Judging by all the positive Yelp reviews for the by appointment only tasting at Ram’s Gate, the Insider thought it would be fun to get Ram’s Gate’s Hospitality Manger Luke Magrini to do the Insider quiz. Cheers!!!

What was last night’s dinner? 

Dinner last night was at Compline Wine Bar and Restaurant in Napa. They just opened and have quickly become a favorite of mine. Their salt baked whole fish with a glass of Ram’s Gate Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay was an absolute show stopper. 

Favorite drink? 

Wine’s the easy answer, and in that case, it’s typically Champagne. When I’m not drinking wine, I hold a special place in my heart (or hand) for a well-made Negroni. 

Favorite dining spot in Sonoma and why?  I’m a sucker for the fried chicken and waffles at Fremont Diner. Order it spicy, and get a milkshake to wash it down. The entire ambiance there keeps me coming back time and time again for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Favorite music?  I change music like I change my glass of wine – depending on the mood and situation. I’ve got everything on my phone from Garth Brooks to Grateful Dead, Tom Petty to Tupac and the Beatles to Bieber. It would be hard to pick a “favorite”. 

Favorite thing about living and working in Sonoma?  The diversity of land and sea, the history, the people, and the passion for what they do (regardless of what that is.) 

Any brush with celebrity?  I recently met Rod Thorn at Ram’s Gate, who by no means is an A-list celebrity. However, he’s the guy that drafted Michael Jordan when he was the GM of the Chicago Bulls. It was fascinating to think about someone who changed the fate of NBA and sports history but who very few people outside of Chicago would recognize or know his name. He was beyond humble and gracious, which is always refreshing. 

What makes a great winery?  Great wine is of course a requirement, and some delicious food to pair along with it are what make a good winery. However, to make a great winery, we must create an experience using wine, food and true hospitality that a guest can take with them when they go, and remember that experience and smile when they open a bottle of our wine wherever that may be. Whether that’s down the road or across the world, 5 days from now or 5 years from now. That’s a great winery. 

Final thoughts?  Life’s too short, drink the good wine.