Enjoy Wine Tasting at Pangloss Cellars
If the Pangloss Cellars tasting room is not the best of all possible uses for the old stone building at 35 East Napa Street, it is surely an improvement. Just opened in September, 2015, after a nine-month renovation of the 1902 building, this spacious tasting bar and lounge has literally opened up a new vista onto the Sonoma Plaza wine scene.
Down from the Mountain
Taking inspiration from Dr. Pangloss, an eternally optimistic character in 18th century author Voltaire’s Candide, the winery is a sister brand to Repris Wines. Perched high above the Sonoma Valley in a volcanic bowl, Repris occupies the historic Moon Mountain Vineyard and winery (old timers who follow California wine may remember it as Chalone’s Carmenent Winery).
But the mountain-grown Repris reds are extremely limited. “We have to say no a lot at Repris,” says winery CEO Christian Borcher. “The wines are all allocated and sold out.” Enter Pangloss, made at the same winery and by the same winemaker, Erich Bradley (also of Sonoma’s Sojourn Cellars). The wines are also somewhat exclusive: you won’t find these wines elsewhere, except by the bottle at a few restaurants right around the Plaza. But they are available for purchase at the tasting room—with more exclusive offerings, like the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($60) from the famed Monte Rosso vineyards, available to wine club members.
That’s the secret sauce that makes it all possible, says Borcher. By selling direct to consumer, they can afford to introduce wine country visitors to their brand with wine flights and food pairings in this remodeled tasting lounge. (The tasting room was formerly located in Glen Ellen).
Pinot in the Age of Enlightenment
A native of Copenhagen, Borcher says he’s always loved old buildings. There’s nothing but 112 years of history that can add that kind of dark patina to the beams, he says—but several layers of ceiling material had to be removed to reveal it. To rediscover the original stone walls, masons chipped away at plaster for months.
Some of the decorations are found items from Sonoma’s winemaking history, from a local barn sale. Furnishings are comfortable, quality but quirky—every piece is different.
It’s relaxed, but there are rules at Pangloss: food pairings with caviar and white wines ($60), Burgundy style wines and local cheese ($30) and Sonoma County wines with charcuterie from Thistle Meats of Petaluma and others ($35) are available in the lounge area, only. At the bar, visitors may sample flights of wine standing or seated. In the back, behind a striking wall of wine bottles, private tastings may be hosted in two private rooms.
Varietal wines range from Chenin Blanc to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir to Zinfandel, Rhône blends and Cabernet Sauvignon.
You can get geeky on your wine if want to at Pangloss. There are two sommelier-certified hosts behind the bar, or on the floor, at all times. But if clonal selections, soil profiles and total acidity are not your bag, not to worry: the emphasis here is on sitting down, hanging out, and simply enjoying the wines.
Hit the Road
Get even more historical with a stroll around the Sonoma Plaza. The 1823 Mission San Francisco Solano, the Sonoma Barracks, the The Blue Wing Inn and more are California historic landmark buildings in varying states of complete or partial renovation, wine lounge not included.
Pangloss Cellars: 35 East Napa Street, Sonoma, CA 95476. Open daily, 11am–6pm; 7pm Friday-Saturday. Tasting fees vary. 707.933.8565.