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Find Unique Wines at Armida Winery

This Healdsburg winery gained notoriety for “PoiZin,” a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel that boasts a garish, red skull and crossbones screen-printed on the bottle. When considering a party favor or gift wine, this one is truly a no-brainer.

Original Zin
It all began innocently enough. According to Armida legend, when owners Bruce and Steve Cousins were sampling an early batch of Zinfandel, they commented, “This is to die for!” That artless accolade inspired the “PoiZin” label, and the rest is history.

But what about the rest of the year? All is not lost. Although Armida hit upon a catchy marketing ploy with “PoiZin,” this is no slick operation.

It’s run by just “eight folks and a cat,” as I’m told at the tasting room, an open, casual space situated within one of three geodesic domes on the property.

Stretched out against a giant picture window, here’s Penny the cat, snoozing in the sun, oblivious to the fantastic view of the Russian River Valley beyond. Owner Bruce Cousins, on the other hand, busily breezes by, intent on shipping orders to customers.

Perched on a hill above Westside Road, this is a relaxed space where you can taste wine, sit on the deck overlooking a pond, and just kill time.

Take a Sip
Presented in a blue bottle, the 2012 “Antidote” ($20) is a white blend that’s made to counter a dose of the 2013 “PoiZin” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($25), a blend of 85 percent Zinfandel and 15 percent Syrah.

Similarly to that wine’s balanced kiss of berry fruit, the premium 2011 “Reserve PoiZin” Zinfandel ($80), sold in a 750ml-sized “coffin” made of wood, is really a quite elegant, claret-styled Zinfandel — nothing too hairy.

Freak Out
Where did Crljenak Kaštelanski go wrong? The original Zin, if you will — the Croatian grape that became known as Zinfandel in 19th century California — has inspired a medley of malapropisms: Sin Zin, Seven Deadly Zins, PoiZin.

And how many times have you heard that it’s “Zinfully delicious”? On the other hand, it’s more fun than Merlot.

Hit the Road

 Take your bottle of PoiZin to dinner at historic Madrona Manor, a Victorian mansion that, if imposing, is bright and cheery. Armida and Madrona Manor participate in the Dry Creek Valley Culinary Cooperative, a new food and wine partnership.

The winery gives you a voucher for free corkage at the restaurant, which is serving an exciting menu that belies its staid appearance — I’m still haunted by the aroma of the smoked egg sabayon amuse bouche.

Armida, 2201 Westside Road, Healdsburg, Calif. Open daily, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tasting fee, $10. 

Find more info about wineries, restaurants and hotels in Sonoma County.



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