When I first heard of Ram’s Gate in Sonoma, CA the word was that it was the new hotness – a thirty million dollar structure erected on a hilltop overlooking the Bay. My first thoughts were, “Great, another overzealous ego booster winery with no personality”. I was wrong.
As you approach the winery, which is just off the main highway from San Francisco, it doesn’t reveal much. From behind it seems like a large barn. Once you park and walk through the open air entrance, you start to notice things. Fireplaces, a lot of open space for seating, and some giant oak fermentation tanks housed behind a glass window. Large panes of glass frame the tasting room, and they swing open on warm days to allow a perfect breeze to carry through the building.
The interior architecture is quite stunning too, with large exposed beams and high ceilings, with wild looking chandeliers hanging from them. Comfortable chairs and lounging areas, three fireplaces, and a massive bar allow visitors to post up anywhere and be comfortable. There’s also seating outside, overlooking the valley below, though I imagine that gets scooped up quickly on busy days.
What also separates Ram’s Gate from other wineries is the food pairing options. Some wineries do this – Robert Sinskey and Terra Valentine come to mind – but most don’t give it as much worth. Here, there’s a full kitchen staff and a head chef who knows what he’s doing. They offer delicious pairings made with local ingredients. You can get an assortment of cheeses, meats and other small bites that complement the wine they serve.
As for the wine, it’s also tasty stuff. They have a crisp Chardonnay and a very rounded, balanced Estate Sonoma Pinot Noir that I thoroughly enjoyed. We also tried the Parmelee Hill Syrah which was a nice full bodied wine I could see working with a grilled meat.
Overall, I highly recommend Ram’s Gate and encourage others to visit. It might be the closest winery to San Francisco, and it’s a pleasure to be able to escape there on any day of the year. For more information, visit http://www.ramsgatewinery.com