Anaba Wines, A Noteworthy Sonoma County Destination

On a recent trip to northern California I spent a leisurely afternoon at Anaba Wines, and boy am I glad I did. Anaba sits at the edge of Sonoma County. In fact, if you spend time driving between Napa and Sonoma, you probably pass it regularly. My suggestion is to make some time to stop in and pay the friendly folks there a visit.

Anaba Wines has a lovely, intimate tasting room at the corner of Bonneau Road and 116 in Sonoma. Once there you can choose to either taste inside or out on the attached deck. If weather permits, I recommend the deck since sitting outside always adds some additional panache to tasting wine in my opinion. As lovely as their current space is, they have plans to expand it with a larger one in the next few years.

While Anaba owns some vineyard land and farm grapes, their focus is on sourcing fruit from other growers under long-term contracts. Their portfolio features a variety of single vineyard offerings, cuvee style wines, a handful of blends, and a couple of dessert wines. I had the opportunity to taste through a large swatch of their portfolio alongside their owner John Sweazey. Here's a look at some of my personal favorites among their current releases.

Anaba Wines 2014 Grenache Blanc ($28)

All of the fruit for this wine came from the Snow Vineyard in Sonoma Valley. After fermentation it was aged in stainless steel for seven months. White flower aromas lead a deeply fragrant nose. Lemon zest and bits of vanilla bean are evident on the palate, along with lots of yellow melon characteristics. The finish,, which is precise and long, shows off spice, continued yellow fruit, and a gentle hint of sweetness. If you want to hang out on your deck drinking wine and while away an afternoon, here's the bottle for you.

Anaba Wines 2012 Landa Vineyard Viognier ($28)

This entirely varietal wine was produced from fruit grown on a single vineyard in the eastern hills of Sonoma Valley. Fermentation took place in a combination of stainless steel tank and oak. Aging took place more than 11 months. Apricot and toasted hazelnut aromas dominate the welcoming nose. The perfectly dry palate is studded with stone fruits, a hint of papaya, orange zest, and plenty of spice. Lemon curd and wet limestone elements are evident on the above average finish. Firm acid keeps things fresh and lively.

Anaba Wines 2013 Turbine White ($28)

This offering is a blend of Rousanne (42 percent), Grenache Blanc (20 percent), Picpoul Blanc (20 percent), and Marsanne (18 percent). It was fermented in an even split of stainless steel tank and barrel using native yeast. Barrel aging took place over eight months in French oak; 30 percent of them were new. Toasted pecan and hints of smoke are in evidence on the savory nose. Citrus and topical fruit flavors are layered on the gentle palate. All of these elements continue on the finish which has good length and zippy acidity.

Anaba Wines 2012 Denmark Vineyard Chardonnay ($32)

All of the fruit for this Sonoma Coast Chardonnay came from the namesake vineyard. After fermentation it was aged for 11 months in French oak; 12 percent new. Lime zest aromas lead the nose here. The palate is a who's who of orchard fruit flavors with Anjou pear and golden delicious apple leading the charge. Minerals, lemon zest, and a dollop of crème fraiche are all present on the long finish alongside bits of toasty oak.

Anaba Wines 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($34)

Fruit from four Sonoma Coast vineyards combine to create this cuvee, which is entirely Pinot Noir. Aging took place over 11 months in French oak; 40 percent of the barrels were new. Bright red and black cherry aromas fill the nose alongside hints of spice and savory herb. Continued intermingling fruits are joined by a hint of toast and a wisp of dark baker's chocolate on the above average finish.

Anaba Wines 2012 Robert's Road Pinot Noir ($46)

The Sonoma Coast Vineyard the fruit comes from is planted to two clones: Pommard and 115. Oak aging took place over 11 months in French oak; 35 percent of the barrels were new. Wild strawberry and spice box aromas dominate the alluring nose of this single vineyard Pinot Noir. The soft and gentle palate is loaded with strawberry and red cherry flavors alongside bits of mushroom. Bits of earth and black pepper appear on the finish, which shows off racy acid. This is a lovely expression of Pinot Noir that far outclasses its price point.

Anaba Wines 2012 Turbine Red Rhone Blend ($28)

Grenache (45 percent), Mourvedre (41 percent), and Syrah (16 percent) from two Sonoma Coast vineyards are blended to create this wine. Aging took place in French oak; 33 percent of the barrels utilized were new. Bright red fruits and leather aromas fill the nose. Cinnamon and allspice join copious amounts of red fruits tinged by black on the sumptuous and somewhat velvety palate of this blend. Chicory, earth and continued red fruits are all part of the finish here.

Anaba Wines 2011 Teldeschi Vineyard Petite Sirah ($40)

The Teldeschi Home Ranch in Dry Creek Valley is the source of the fruit for this wine which is entirely Petite Sirah. After fermentation it spent 11 months in French oak; 40 percent of the barrels utilized were new. Violet, plum, and blueberry aromas fill the dark and brooding nose of this Petite Sirah. Black and purple fruit flavors dominate the big shouldered palate with has depth and firmness. Earth, hints of chocolate, and leather are all part of the long, somewhat lusty finish. Pair this with a brisket sandwich for a perfect meal.

Anaba Wines White Aero Port ($28)

This offering is a combination of aromatic whites and high quality Brandy added to stop fermentation. The brandy used is made from their own wines. Stone fruit and white flower aromas fill the nose here along with a bit of orange zest. Lemon curd, continued stone fruits, and wisps of linseed oil are all present on the palate, which has good weight without being heavy. The honeyed finish is sweet without being cloying. This is a delightful, sweet wine that will please most palates.

Anaba Wines 2011 Late Harvest Viognier ($28)

The fruit for this wine (all Viognier) is allowed to hang until the last days of November to encourage the development of botrytis. After native yeast fermentation it was aged in stainless steel prior to bottling. Apricot and lychee fruit aromas galore dominate the boisterous nose of this Late Harvest wine. Almond characteristics, pineapple, bits of custard, and marzipan are all part of the appealing and layered palate. Mesquite honey leads the sweet finish, which also shows off a gentle hint of creaminess. 

Taken as a piece, the Anaba wines are a well-made, extremely fair-priced collection of offerings. Whether your taste runs to white blends, single-vineyard, site driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, or dessert wines, they have something for you. Their tasting room, which is welcoming and cheery is also staffed by people who are as knowledgeable about the Anaba wines and wine in general as they are warm and engaging. So if you've been driving by Anaba without stopping in, pull over and spend some time with them and their lovely wines. And if you've never passed them by, make a point of heading there the next time your travels take you near Sonoma County. What you're going to find is a spot that you'll be telling your friends about in addition to lots of delicious wine sold at remarkably fair prices. There are hundreds of places in Sonoma County to spend your wine dollars and time; Anaba should be on your short list.