food and drink

A Guide to Sonoma Winery

A Guide to Sonoma Winery

Not far from Napa’s manicured vineyards and wineries built to resemble French chateaux, Scribe, a winery by and for a new generation of viticulture enthusiasts, is upping the ante. “We want the wines to speak of this place with this amazing history, but also to have a connection to us and to each other,” hospitality manager Lauren Feldman said. “Wines are always best when shared around a table with good conversation and a warm, serene environment.” That’s exactly how visiting Scribe feels.


Napa has been changing as of late—becoming hipper, more design-conscious and laid-back, but in nearby Sonoma, Scribe Winery is paving the way for the next generation of winemakers and consumers. Since they bought the property in 2007, the Mariani brothers have been restoring the land (a run-down turkey farm when they acquired it) to its original state, creating sustainable wines, and encouraging people to taste them on their own terms. There’s no fancy tasting room and minimal presentation. Instead, Bay Area techies and creative types lounge on Mexican blankets on the grass or sit at picnic tables in front of the winery, sampling the offerings and snacking on fruit and nuts grown on the property. Rather than lecturing about the grape varietals, the brothers and their team take a more conversational approach.

Notable Wine Recipes

This is the place to go to try California’s new wave wines. On the 40-acre property they grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sylvaner grapes, and they’ve got another 150 acres nearby. Their Riesling is pleasantly dry, and the Pinot Noir is delicate, but the most intriguing wine they’re currently producing is the Chardonnay made with fermented grape skins, done in the style of Slovenian orange wines. Golden in color, it tastes complex, earthy and funky on the palate. Their fans are a who’s who of the Bay Area’s best chefs: Alice Waters and Jérôme Waag of Chez Panisse, Nick Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine, Thomas McNaughton of Central Kitchen, and Sylvan Mishima Brackett of Izakaya Rintaro, to name just a few.

Other Activities

After the tasting, you can wander the grounds and admire the olive trees and peach trees. Just beyond, you could see the century-old hacienda. The Mariani brothers are currently renovating it with plans to make a tasting room, rooms for visiting friends and suppliers, and a sort of subterranean speakeasy (though they balk at that term) to revive the tradition. In digging up the property’s history, they found that the original owners—also two winemaking brothers—operated a speakeasy during Prohibition. A visit to Scribe will show how they’re paving the way for the winery’s future while honoring its past.

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