10 of the Most Sip-Worthy Wines at the North Coast Wine & Food Fest

The North Coast Wine & Food Festival will be held Saturday, June 18, featuring the region's top chefs and 90 gold-medal wines.

The Press Democrat’s North Coast Wine & Food Festival, showcasing 30 of the region’s top chefs and 90 gold-medal wines from the North Coast Wine Challenge, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, after a two-year pause due to the pandemic.

The afternoon includes tastings of the award-winning wines, food, music and interactive activities.

VIP tickets are $135 per person and include early entrance to the event at noon and all-day access to the VIP Lounge and its sparkling wine and specialty foods.

General admission is $95 per person and includes 1 p.m. entry to the main event, which features caviar, doughnut and grilled cheese tasting stations alongside the award-winning wines.

Designated driver tickets are $50 per person, which includes a 1 p.m. entry to the main event and food. Nonalcoholic beverages will be available.

For tickets: northcoastwineandfood.com. 50 Mark West Springs Road.

This file photo shows the North Coast Wine and Food Festival at Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park. The event returns this weekend at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat file)

It’s a rare treat to have the chance to sample 90 gold medal-winning wines at a single event. So to help you navigate the many choices, we’ve put together a list of 10 wines we consider some of the most sip-worthy, including whites, rosés, reds and more. All won gold or better at this year’s North Coast Wine Challenge in April.

1. Roth Estate 2019 Heritage Red Wine, Sonoma County
Let’s start at the top. The Roth Estate 2019 Heritage Red Wine took home awards for Best of Show, Best of Sonoma County and Best of Show Red, making this wine a must-try for Bordeaux-blend fans. The judging panel, who tasted the wine during the first round of blind tasting April 5, called it “ruggedly handsome, polished and fruit-forward, like a movie star with a chiseled chin.” Yum.

2. Gloria Ferrer 2012 Carneros Cuvée, Late Disgorged Sparkling Wine, Carneros, Sonoma County
Gloria Ferrer’s 2012 Carneros Cuvée claimed the top spot for Best Sparkling Wine, which we say is a worthwhile excuse to drink more bubbles. The Carneros Cuvée is produced only in select years with the best fruit on the estate, and it offers layers of complexity that have arrived with age.

3. Brassfield Estate Winery 2021 Sauvignon Blanc, High Valley, Lake County
This 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Brassfield Estate Winery was recognized as the Best Wine of Lake County for its notes of lemon curd, bright grapefruit and intense aromatics. The winery is located in the High Valley American Viticultural Area, defined by its substantial temperature swings and steep mountain ridges that climb to 3,000 feet.

4. Portalupi 2021 Vermentino, Mahoney Vineyard, Carneros, Napa/Sonoma Counties
The 2021 Vermentino from Portalupi won Best of Show White, making it the first time the Italian varietal has won at the North Coast Wine Challenge. The grape is grown primarily in Sardinia and Tuscany, and Portalupi’s version is “refreshing and delicious” according to Chief Wine Judge Daryl Groom. Another judge compared it to “a carousel ride in your mouth.”

5. Husch Vineyards 2021 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
Husch Vineyards first planted gewürtzraminer in 1968, and the old vines continue to produce exceptionally aromatic fruit with signature vibrant acidity. The 2021 vintage is no exception, scoring 93 points and a Best in Class rating. Dry in style, this wine is a highly worthwhile addition to your glass.

6. Pennyroyal Farm 2021 PinoTrio, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
A standout blend of pinot noir, pinot blanc and pinot gris, this 2021 PinoTrio from Pennyroyal Farm is “a real crowd pleaser,” according to the judges who loved the white wine’s vibrant acidity and mineral finish. The fruit is sourced from down the road at Navarro Vineyards, founded by winemaker Sarah Cahn Bennett’s parents in 1973.

7. Navarro Vineyards 2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
Winner of Best Rosé Wine and Best of Mendocino County, this dry 2021 Navarro Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir is highly worth seeking out for its notes of raspberry, cherry and bright acidity. Pale in hue, the wine is aged on the lees in neutral oak, giving it a smooth, supple mouthfeel.

Best Rose Wine winner Navarro Vineyards 2021 Rose of Pinot Noir Anderson Valley. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Best Rose Wine winner Navarro Vineyards 2021 Rose of Pinot Noir Anderson Valley. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

8. Bricoleur Vineyards 2019 Special Selection Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
A double gold was awarded to this 2019 Special Selection Pinot Noir from Bricoleur Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Intense and spicy, with distinct aromas of cherry and mushroom, it’s a classic Russian River pinot noir you won’t want to miss.

9. Greystack Cellars 2018 Four Brothers Vineyard Grenache, Bennett Valley, Sonoma County
A delightful field blend led by grenache, with syrah, carignan and petit sirah, this 2018 grenache from Grey Stack Cellars Four Brothers Vineyard has notes of raspberry, strawberry and a hint of spice.

10. Enkidu Wine 2019 Humbaba, Sonoma and Lake Counties
This gold medal-winning Rhone blend from Enkidu Wine is focused on syrah and petite sirah, with a touch of grenache and mourvèdre. With notes of spicy black pepper, dark cherry and camphor, this would be the perfect accompaniment to barbecue or grilled meats.

You can reach staff writer Sarah Doyle at 707-521-5478 or sarah.doyle@pressdemocrat.com.