Winery Visit: Porter-Bass Vineyard

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This drought is really something, isn’t it? There’s something eerie about it being 65 degrees on a January afternoon, wispy clouds dotting the horizon after the only rain we’ve had so far this winter – if you could even call it a rain. More like a dampening. Enough to keep the dust down. Anyway, it was this day after the “rain” that Tala and I headed out to Winelandia again, to visit a producer we love. Luke Bass is the wine grower/proprietor of Porter-Bass Wines outside of Guerneville. This property, deep in western Sonoma county, tucked right near the Russian River, produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel in small quantities. They sell fruit that becomes some of the most sought after Chard in the area – Ceritas makes a Porter-Bass Chardonnay, as does Littorai.

But Luke also makes his own wine from this property – entirely biodynamic in the vineyard and the winery, and we think a great secret of Sonoma wine country. The wines are fresh and lively, with great acid and subtlety. Perfect for sipping with friends, but balanced and very food-friendly too. Tala and I have been impressed with the Chardonnays for quite some time, because they’ve got a great zingy acidity that many California Chardonnays lack, but they don’t compromise on texture either. What a great find! The Pinots are bright and fruity, and the Zinfandels are almost ethereal. Floral, light, and just… Just delightful. I feel precious even describing wine that way, but they are just a delight to drink.

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On this afternoon, it was like the wines and the air were mimicking each other – each trying to upstage the other with more freshness and brightness. Surrounded by redwoods and pines, the small property is about as idyllic as it gets for California wine country. I mean, I think Healdsburg and Alexander Valley and Calistoga and the Santa Cruz Mountains and Forestville  –  all these places are stunning. But visiting Porter-Bass feels like you’re discovering something, which is hard to say about wine country these days. It kindof feels like a secret. Clean air, crisp wines, just you and Luke and a few bottles of his great product. 

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I hadn’t been to Porter-Bass in a year or more, and I was reminded how great these wines taste, and how great a property it is to visit. Luke is a character, with plenty to say about how he makes his wines and why, and great thoughts about the present and future of the industry that surrounds him. It was a wonderful Sunday adventure, and our first visit to the wine country in quite some time.  In particular, we recommend picking up a bottle of Zinfandel – you won’t regret it! It’s a great bottle to show you what Zin can become in a different setting, in a different pair of hands. 

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Porter-Bass is open by appointment only. They’re located on Mays Canyon Road outside Guerneville, CA. If you visit in spring or summer, ask Luke if he’s got any spare eggs. They’re amazing.