Visitors to Sonoma County know Ram’s Gate well, even if they’ve never been there. Why? It’s the first winery you pass as you come into the region, and now — since it was purchased from Roche, which used to have a tasting room here — it’s even harder to miss. The “gate” of Ram’s Gate is a real thing, towering dozens of feet into the air like something out of Game of Thrones.
Ram’s Gate is available to visitors by appointment only, and numerous tasting options abound, including some with meals served from the full kitchen on the premises. When we visited, we stuck with a short tour and wine, five selections from Ram’s Gate’s Vineyard Designate lineup. Thoughts follow. (Note: All of these wines improve with air and time in glass.)
2014 Ram’s Gate Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard Carneros – Almond and tropical notes abound; bold and buttery to be sure, but it has a bit of acidity. B-
2014 Ram’s Gate Chardonnay Green Acres Hill Vineyard Carneros – Bold with honey, some bitter citrus peel notes, and an unctuous, buttery finish. B
2013 Ram’s Gate Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast – Burgundy in style, with some earthiness that finds a companion in notes of lavender and cocoa powder. Intense, give it 2 to 3 years before drinking. B+
2013 Ram’s Gate Pinot Noir El Diablo Vineyard Russian River Valley – Muted on the nose, with some chewy bacon notes, dark chocolate, menthol, and camphor. B-
2013 Ram’s Gate Syrah Parmelee-Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast – Minimal fruit on this one — it’s all licorice and meaty sausage notes. B-