I recently had the opportunity to explore the wines of Ferrari-Carano via an online virtual tasting with Executive Winemaker Sarah Quider and Chelsea Kurnick, wine specialist with McCue Communications. The tasting was accompanied by a select group of fellow wine writers. We swirled, sniff, tasted and tweeted about the Italian influenced wines of Ferrari-Carano and it’s sister vineyard, Lazy Creek Vineyards.
While on a wine buying expedition to Northern California, Don & Rhonda Carano first bought land in the Alexander Valley in 1979 and a couple of years later established Ferrari-Carano Vineyard & Winery in 1981. They have been committed to producing wines that exhibit their terroir and growing quality grapes, through sustainable farming practices. Don Carano proudly says, “The Ferrari-Carano name represents quality and consistency without compromise, a commitment that is reflected in every bottle of wine we make.” Starting out with just 30 acres in 1979, the winery today is composed of 1900 acres throughout Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino.
What is most remarkable is that Ferrari-Carano’s entire wine operation is run by women. Sarah Quider is the Executive Winemaker, along with six other female winemakers. Christy Ackerman and Rebecka Deike work alongside Sarah in producing high quality, stylishly elegant wines. The wine making team has been together for many years and have great camaraderie and teamwork. Sarah says, “As winemaker, it’s my goal to make complex, intense, seamless and delicious wines that reflect the diversity of our vineyards and are balanced in richness and delicacy.”
“Spirit of Spring” was the theme of the tasting. The wines were all lovely, fruit forward wines, perfect for the warm spring/summer weather. The wines are ideal for barbecues, lounging on the deck or pool side entertaining. The second underlying theme was to taste Italian inspired wines like, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese Rosé, Pinot Noir(grown extensively in Italy) Rosé, and a red Sangiovese blend. The “Spirit of Italy” wines honor Caranos’ Italian heritage and their philosophy of celebrating life and enjoying wine with meals shared with friends and family.
2016 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio – SRP $14 – This Pinot Grigio is hand harvested in the Russian River Valley. The wine is refreshingly light with notes of lemon, citrus and apples. It is beautiful and complex with nice body and structure. The acidity is fresh, lively and vibrant. Be prepared to be stunned by how delicate and fruity the flavors are and how incredibly good it is as an aperitif or paired with food. The wine will pair well with seafood, oysters, cheeses, and grilled chicken. Sarah captures the essence of the vineyard in the bottle.
2016 Ferrari-Carano Dry Sangiovese Rosé – SRP $14 – This wildly popular rosé sells for only $14, a great price point for a California rosé. On the nose the tropical notes are aromatic, capturing the youth of the wine. Wild strawberries, and watermelon burst on the palate. This Sangiovese is bright with spicy, floral notes. The wine will pair deliciously with with burgers, cheeses, charcuterie and even fried chicken. The Ferrari-Carano Sangiovese rosé is a very special wine. The rose gold label is designed after a wedding invitation. The label invites you to have a nice meal with family and friends, and enjoy life.
2016 Lazy Creek Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir – SRP $22 – Lazy Creek Vineyards was acquired by Ferrari-Carano in 2008, thus it has its own unique label. This 100% Pinot Noir rosé is grown in Anderson Valley. On the nose, there is an immediate burst of orange blossom. The palate has flavors of mandarin oranges, melons and berries with a slightly savory profile. Smooth texture, lively acidity and a wonderful fruit profile make this a spectacular rosé. It will pair beautifully with salmon, grilled vegetables or even heartier meat dishes like lamb, turkey or pork. This small production wine is hugely popular, and sells out quickly.
2014 Ferrari-Carano Siena – SRP $21 – The Siena is mostly Sangiovese, blended together with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. The dark ruby wine is a rich super Tuscan, with notes of pomegranate, cherries, dark chocolate and red fruit. Siena is medium bodied with soft tannins and a nice spicy finish. This easy drinking, food friendly wine will pair well with pizzas and pastas. The Sienna is a great barbecue wine and can be paired with ribs, steaks and burgers.