Part 2: The Prince

In a setting fit for a prince with a green thumb, Ferrari Carano’s Villa Fiore is a must-see Sonoma wine destination.

Rear Fountain, Ferrari Carano

After spending last Saturday tasting at Vinify, a custom crush facility in a Santa Rosa warehouse that hosted a showcase of 18 small wineries, some friends took me along to Ferrari Carano to pick up their latest wine club selections.

The contrast was striking.

I went from tasting at folding tables set up in a business park warehouse full of winemaking equipment to experiencing a lushly landscaped temple to wine in the natural splendor of the Dry Creek Valley. Here’s a link to a KTVU video tour of the gorgeous Ferrari Carano estate.

Once we entered the winery proper, a hostess realized we were royalty (well, there were wine club members present!), and we were whisked downstairs for a special tasting in an underground salon adjacent to the barrel room.

There’s no clicking tourist cameras. No yelling children. No pushing or shoving.

Just a tranquil spot flanked by marble columns and a polished wood bar — all designed to enhance every sip in hopes of making a sale, renewing a relationship or just exploring the next vintage.

Chardonnay Rules

They make an excellent lineup of chardonnay at Ferrari Carano. The winery shows restraint that allows subtleties of the vintage and terroir to emerge in the special bottlings while pushing the fruit profile a bit higher in the larger production wines that carry the Sonoma County appellation.

My two favorites from the salon tasting were the Dominique and Fiorella. Both are made from estate vineyards along the Russian River, but there are subtle differences.


This 2009 vintage chardonnay is grown in a single vineyard that flanks a curve in the river.

I heard the server explain that the location and prevailing winds worked together to keep the site cool, which helps promote longer hang time that allows the grape to develop secondary flavors and minerality. In this vintage, the grapes were not harvested until near Halloween.

There was nothing spooky about this $36 wine. It delivered a fabulous fistful of fresh flavors.

What I smelled in the glass was a fresh golden apple with a bit of nutmeg.

What I tasted was a mix of light citrus and pears with a soft, creamy edge that finished with just the right, light touch of oak.


This 2008 vintage of Fiorella offers more citrus and feels a bit crisper on the tongue when tasted alongside the Dominque.

There is a bit of orange plus a dash of lemon zest for a great citrus combo.

Some nice acids give this $32 wine a fresh approach and the barest whisper of oak holds the flavor package together for a nice finish.

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