Paul Hobbs Winery: Off the Beaten Path, On the Mark

Ever since we first tasted the Paul Hobbs we ordered at Fearings Restaurant, the Hobbs wines have been among our favorites. In our last visit to Napa/Sonoma, we decided to visit the winery.  Of course, we missed the line in our confirmation email that warned not to use GPS, since the actual location of the Sebastopol property is not where technology says it should be. And they were right.

Our GPS sent us to a location very near the city.  A quick call to the winery confirmed that the location is actually several miles north and west of Sebastopol on highway 116.  For those visiting Napa or Sonoma, the location is well off the main drags. Located just short of halfway between Santa Rosa and the Pacific Coast, it is not near to other wineries we wanted to visit, but it turned out to be well worth the visit.

In our winery visits, we have found there are three dynamics that we most appreciate: the quality of the wines being tasted, the uniqueness and appeal of the experience and the value of the education provided. If a winery can excel at two of these dynamic, we give it high marks. Paul Hobbs was one of the few that excelled at all three.

We struck a little bit of luck in our misdirection. We arrived a bit late for our tasting and the group we were to be a part of had already started. Since they were already on the third wine and were not interested in a tour (which we really wanted to go on) we were offered the opportunity to have a tour and tasting with another guide, who ended up being the winery chef, Anne. Umm, yes, please.

I’ve always been fascinated by Mr. Hobbs’ upbringing on a family apple farm and how that experience led to a life in wine. The opportunity to hear more about this connection and the ways that he continues to push the boundaries of winemaking directly from those who work closely with him was a treat. Although the tour included all parts of the process, including the vineyards and equipment, what made the learning at this winery worth the time was in getting an inside look into how a master winemaker pulls all the parts together through art, science, experience and vision.

The experience itself was exactly what we look for in a winery visit: casual and friendly. The simple architecture blended beautifully with the surrounding hills and set the perfect stage to relax in the Lindsay House and enjoy the fruits and spice of the Paul Hobbs labor. The tastings take place in a setting more akin to an upscale living room and the tour and tasting staff were extremely friendly, knowledgeable and genuinely passionate about what they do.

It should be a given that at Paul Hobbs the quality of the wines would be excellent. And it was. We tasted a variety of styles, including the Kick Ranch Sarah, some of the Vino Cabos labels from the Argentina winery, the Hyde Vineyard Pinot, and, to my delight, the Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cab and all were well above the average Napa/Sonoma tastes for each varietal.

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