Ramey had to make my list for an assortment of reasons. First, they’re a pretty big name in Chardonnay. Second, they just placed 7th on Wine Spectator’s list of Top 100 wines of 2019. Third, they make a Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay. I love wines made using Hyde fruit. It was also, coincidentally, their Hyde Chardonnay that was so respectably placed. Plus, I’ve never been there. And they’re not open to the public. The only thing that made me pause – I prefer smaller production wineries. I think Alan mentioned they make something like 40,000 cases. Not small.
Ramey has the least sexy entrance of any winery I think I’ve visited. They’re located on the outskirts of downtown Healdsburg. I’ve driven right by and had no idea they were there. If they were located in Napa, I suspect it would be a very different environment. But, environment doesn’t matter. Yes, yes, I do recall my post about Stewart Cellars.
I was whisked away to their second floor tasting room. It was very corporate. Wines were already poured. And my tasting host, Alan, explained a few others would be joining us. Yay! There was a lot of wine on the table. Seven glasses per person – including a set for Alan. I do love it when they pour all of the wines for us so we can compare and contrast.
I was somewhat disappointed (but not at all surprised) that we weren’t tasting that 2016 Hyde Chardonnay. It’s sold out on their website. Though, I know where you can get some! However, I wasn’t all that disappointed because I have a bottle of it that I look forward to enjoying in the kinda near future that I picked up at that source.
The other couple at my tasting were in the industry. Well, the husband was. He works part-time in a tasting room. And then Alan made a comment that got me all excited. He referred to his “dad”. My tasting host was the owner’s son, Alan Ramey. So we enjoyed some very first-hand stories and knowledge from someone who has grown up in this industry and brand.
We had the opportunity to taste four of their Chardonnays. Alan threw in a bonus wine for us. Ironically the first Chardonnay was the 2016 Rochioli Chardonnay. I’d just been to Rochioli the day before! I believe my favorite was the second – 2016 Woolsey Road Chardonnay. I drive by that vineyard almost daily! The third was the 2016 Westside Farms Chardonnay which was pretty nice, too. Finally, our bonus wine was “just” their Russian River Chardonnay which I thought I could very easily enjoy drinking.
I probably would have bought lots of their Chardonnay if it hadn’t been for what was coming up in the reds. We tried their only Pinot Noir – a Russian River blend from the 2016 vintage. I liked it. But, it didn’t really stand out. Again, I’ve enjoyed a lot of really great Pinot Noirs. This one was fabulous. But, I have a lot of Pinot Noir at this point.
Then we moved onto a 2014 Cole Creek Syrah. Let me be honest here. I was initially really bummed that I was missing out on possibly another Chardonnay and being forced to drink this Syrah. But oh my gosh, I was so very wrong. I loved this Syrah. It’s very rare that I love Syrah. It’s a pretty limited production – only 135 cases produced. I need some Syrah in my cellar!
Next was the 2015 Template from Napa Valley. It was a blend of 70% Merlot (UGH), 25% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. I was not expecting to like this wine due to the amount of Merlot. But, I was again oh so wrong! I love being wrong when it comes to wine.
Finally, we tasted their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It’s made up of 80% Cab Sauv, 17% Cab Franc, and 3% Malbec. I should have liked this one. But I preferred the Syrah and Merlot blends more!
I’m so glad I added Ramey to my list. I really enjoyed drinking such a wide variety of the wines they produce since I think of them when I think of Chardonnay. While they may be a pretty large production winery, it has a very intimate feeling. I love that they’re not open to the public and rather focus on tasting for people who truly seek them out. And I love that it was their son, Alan, who was doing the tasting for us.
The winery is located directly outside of our tasting lounge. There has to be so much more to this winery somewhere. Also an interesting note….Ramey and another winery co-own their own bottling trucks which makes scheduling the trucks a lot more convenient! And, as you can see below, one was parked inside the winery but not running.