A Sparkling Success in Sonoma Wine Country
Gloria Ferrer Estate Vineyards
In 1982, when Gloria and José Ferrer first visited the Sonoma Carneros cattle ranch that would become home to Gloria Ferrer Estate Vineyards, they could already picture the terrain lined with vines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The couple, who also own the Catalonian-based cava house Freixenet, saw many similarities in the terroir of Carneros and the terroir of their native Catalonia, Spain. They followed their instincts, purchased the ranch plus an adjacent 100 acres, and began to plant. The following year, Carneros became the first wine region to receive an AVA designation based on climate rather than boundaries. And in 1986, Gloria Ferrer Estate Vineyards became the first sparkling wine house in the new Carneros region.
Building a California winery was the actualization of a longtime dream of the Ferrers'. They were determined to run it as a family business and to make their wines in a California style. As a result, they only imported three winemaking techniques from Freixenet: a commitment to handpicking the grapes, carrying the grapes to the winery in small bins, and pressing the fruit in membrane presses.
To this day, winemaking at Gloria Ferrer upholds its original commitment to experimentation and a desire to capture the full expression of the distinctive Carneros terroir. It's a team effort. Winemaker Bob Iantosca and Vineyard Manager Mike Crumly have worked side by side for more than 20 years. "Year after year, Mike and I look at specific blocks for growth patterns, yields, the structure of the vines, and flavor components," Bob says. "Over time, we've been able to cultivate grapes with the characteristics we found most desirable for the creation of some 50 distinctly different lots."
"We want our wines to offer the truest expression of the fruit from our estate vineyards," Bob says. "They are an expression of a place, specifically east-facing slopes on the west side of Carneros. As a result, our wines tend to be a little more fruit forward than wines made from vineyards facing due south or due west, which experience more afternoon heat."
Bob and Mike were so inspired by the flavors and quality of the grapes that they began crafting small lots of still wine in 1991. Since then, they have meticulously matched dozens of clones to the diverse growing conditions in the vineyards to maximize the grapes' quality, flavors, and characteristics. Today, the Gloria Ferrer still wine portfolio includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a small production of Merlot.
A visit to this charismatic winery makes a delightful first or last stop on a wine touring itinerary. The winery building, designed to reflect the architecture of the Ferrers' 11th century masia (farmhouse) in Catalonia, boasts a resplendent red-tiled roof, tiled floors, and thick stucco walls. Guests are greeted warmly and invited to taste the wines either inside or out on the Vista Terrace, a gracious veranda overlooking the estate's picturesque vineyards and beyond.
Gloria Ferrer hosts many festive events throughout the year, including the annual Catalan Festival of Food, Wine, and Music in July and Three Kings Day during the holiday season. Guests feel so welcome; some decide to alter their touring plans so they can truly savor the magnificent wines and views.
WHAT TO BUY
Sonoma Brut NV Pear, citrus, toast, apple, toasty finish $20
'02 Royal Cuvée Fruit, hint of cream, biscuit, rich lemon, apple, caramel, marzipan $32
'99 Carneros Cuvée Ripe apple, pear, hints of marzipan, lemon curd, baked apple, vanilla $50
'06 Carneros Pinot Noir Bing cherry, rose petal, pomegranate, wood spice, mocha, dried leaf, autumn spices $22
23555 Carneros Hwy
Sonoma, CA 95476
Tasting Room Open Daily 10–5
Located on the Carneros Hwy (Hwy 121) 6 miles south of downtown Sonoma and 6 miles north of Infineon Raceway.