There are some places that you arrive at and are immediately at ease. The minute the gates swung open at Hamel Family Wines and we pulled our glamorous rented mini-van up the drive, I felt a sense of calm settle over me. The newly-built tasting room settles into the rolling Sonoma hills as if it has existed there forever. I have a great appreciation for architecture that harmonizes with its surroundings. As our guide explained, everything on the property is reclaimed or locally sourced, from the cedar planks on the outside of the entrance to the Sonoma dirt wall behind the sign. The design strikes the best balance between modern and approachable, allowing you to truly appreciate the stunning setting.
Not only was the setting incredible but the warm welcome from the folks at the winery just tipped our experience to perfect. I wanted to share some pictures with you from the day because it was truly special. I am so lucky to have this idyllic place only an hour away. I told them that they better get used to seeing my face because I will be visiting often.
This is the inside of the main tasting area. Since the tasting room is situated on a hill, there are beautiful panoramic valley views.
This is the special tasting room that we got to sit in. Does it get much better than navy velvet chairs with modern crystal chandeliers? Not to mention that you have a direct view of the vineyard from this room.
Imagine hours spent sipping wine in this sunshine-filled patio. Notice the nice touches of the petrified wood tables.
The machinery, ready for this year's harvest.
Inside of the caves is this special room with beautiful details like a honeycomb light fixture and brass leaf wall sculpture.
In the heat of Sonoma summers, the caves provide a cool respite. I especially liked the dramatic lighting on this "pod" used for white wine fermentation.
Then came the best part, the wine tasting. We tried a rose, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel and a cab. I always love tasting with a group of friends because everyone has different preferences. The rose was a universal hit. The sauvignon blanc divided the group, some loved the tropical undertones while others preferred the red wines. My personal favorite was the zinfandel because it was smooth and not too peppery as zins go. The cab was delicious, nice and full bodied like I typically like my red wines.
They even personalized our menu and gave us the cutest little wood pens.
After we were nice and "relaxed" from tasting, we grabbed our picnic supplies from the car and set up a wonderful picnic out on their tables. They also offer picnics from one of my favorites, Girl and the Fig, upon request. Soon, they will have a chef that can create customized picnics for groups.
Our picnic was catered by the lovely Joe, Trader Joe ;-) He is the best for picking up affordable picnic supplies. I loved the winery's tables, they had removable panels so we could put our rose on ice. They also gave us the cutest glass water bottles (that we got to take home!) to ensure we stayed hydrated in the heat.
As you can tell, I am completely smitten with this winery. They made our trip so special. It is hard to convey just how lovely the day was. It is incredibly refreshing to find a place that prides itself in creating an amazing experience from start to finish. I feel lucky to have visited there. My sister and I signed up for the wine club (which is very affordable, btw) and I can't wait to attend the pick up party and many more events up there. I was very touched by the incredible experience here and I hope that you can visit sometime too.