An Oasis of Vineyards and Wine: Lynmar Estate
I’m told that peacocks preen themselves first thing in the morning in front of the glass on the doorstep of Lynmar’s visitor center, located in western Sonoma County. They would certainly fit right into the Edenic setting.
Tucked away in the low, rolling hills south of Sebastopol, between the Laguna de Santa Rosa wetlands and a bend in a narrow, bumpy country road, Lynmar Estate is an oasis not only of vineyards and wine, but also of environmental stewardship, gardens, and new cuisine and hospitality.
Stroll through Quail Hill
Mostly, it’s quail that one sees on Quail Hill, hence the name of the place — the peacock neighbors may be descendants of a one-time exotic bird farm before proprietors Lynn and Anisya Fritz took over.
A past master in making things get from point A to point B really fast and efficiently, Fritz created a relaxing place that’s all about roots in the ground, and letting nature set the pace, from season to season. Not that things haven’t changed up a bit since my last visit here.
Food — glorious food — and wine pairings
There’s a new chef and he has an expanded garden from which to choose seasonal produce, fruits, and herbs that make up Lynmar’s picnic program, Pinot and pizza in the redwood grove, or the new “bar menu” of small bites like cheese plates that may be ordered by drop-in wine tasters without a reservation.
Note that Chef David Frakes even gives the popcorn here “the Lynmar touch,” like plum skin-infused salt. On a recent morning, the aroma of a reduction of summer tomatoes wafts down to the raked gravel patio, where tables are shaded under a huge, four-square Italian umbrella. Picnics, available through October, are no rustic affair: Riedel stemware and table service are the rule.
Take a sip
Look out across the winter kale, hopscotching in different colors and frills across the certified bee-friendly garden, past the stone fruit and over the grapevines, and you’ll see the gravity-flow winery nestled in the hillside.
Here, new winemaker Shane Finley, fresh from a stint at Kosta Browne, is charged with making perennial favorites like the 2012 Rosé of Syrah ($25), dry with a spritz of tangerine. True to Lynmar wines of past vintages, the 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35) shows oak on the rich aroma, but is cool, and creamy on the palate. Specifically made in the style of Chablis, the 2009 La Sereinité Chardonnay ($70) shows a woody, cashew-nut richness nevertheless, but finishes on a zippy, Meyer lemon note.
The house Pinot Noir style is pure, plush plum and cherry fruit, from the 2010 Russian River Valley ($45), available in retail, to the very limited, deeply brooding all-Swan clone 2009 Quail Hill “Old Vines” Pinot Noir ($120). Cherry cola note? Maybe, but a deeply brooding note of cherry cola, to be sure.
Hit the road
You can explore the Laguna de Santa Rosa a little more by taking a hike down the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail. Trailheads are at 6303 Highway 12 and 5420 Occidental Road. The new walking trails are relatively flat, easy walking, and are maintained by Sonoma County Regional Parks.