On our recent trip to the California Coast we had the opportunity to stop for a tasting at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyard. Located in Carneros, which is the Southern end of Sonoma County Wine Region, this is a sparkling wine house.
The Ferrers have a little bit of wine history. The family has been growing wine since the 1500s. They own La Freixendeda (which means “ash tree grove” in Catalan) outside of Barcelona Spain which is an 11th century farming estate. From the estate name comes “Freixenet” the famous Cava from Spain. Yep, they own that too.
The story of Freixenet, goes like this: Pedro Ferrer marries Dolores Sala (from another winemaking family). Phylloxera hit Spain as they got married wiping out vineyards. The two replanted their vineyards with white wine varieties and decided to make sparkling wine. The first bottles of Freixenet (which was Pedro’s childhood nickname) were released in 1914. You are sure to have had one of those signature black bottles at some point.
There have been lots of articles out recently about Cava and Prosecco, and the one thing that stands largest among the difference between the two (other than grapes and location) is the method in which they are made. Cava is made in the Traditional Method (like champagne) where the secondary fermentation is done in bottle. This produces much smaller and more persistent bubbles.
Cava is made with 3 primary types of grapes Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada.
José and Gloria Ferrer came to California in the 70’s on a road trip. They fell in love with Sonoma and wanted to come and build a winery here. The Ferrer Team knew that they wanted to make méthode champenoise wine in New World terroir and that to do that they would need Pinot Noir. They acquired Pinot and Chardonnay clones from Champagne and brought them to plant in Carneros. They purchased 100 acres from three cattle ranches in Sonoma to plant the original vines in 1982 and in 1986 they opened the beautiful winery with the Vista Terrace for visitors to enjoy the wine and the view. They now farm 335 acres of Vineyards, still primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The vines at Gloria Ferrer are hand farmed and many of the original crew that planted the grapes 30 years ago are still a part of the process.
The Winery and Vista Terrace
The Winery which opened in 1986 was designed like a Catalan Farmhouse originally, with wooden beams and old world charm. The caves were the first built in the area. The president of the Catalan Government actually came to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. When they decided to update the tasting room they worked with a Catalan interior designer, Isa Rodriguez (he also designed the Freixenet’s building in Spain). The modern tasting room still includes the wooden beams, but in a much more modern aesthetic.
So while modern tasting room is stunning, the view will draw you out to the Vista Terrace. This is a civilized tasting, you don’t stand at a bar, you are escorted to a table where you can enjoy glasses or flights. They have expanded the Vista Terrace to have an area reserved for Wine Club Members as well as lots of additional room for other guests.
There are umbrellas for shade, but the morning that we were there it was early and the sky’s were still a little cloudy allowing us a comfortable and cool tasting right on the edge of the terrace, with expansive views out onto the front vineyard blocks as well as to the South which are part of the “Home Ranch” and just a little further south to the Circle Bar Ranch. Well, so much for the view, our next post will tell you about the tasting. Bubbles to Start the day – at Gloria Ferrer