USA Today has announced its annual 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards, highlighting “the best of the best” in categories such as food and drink, hotels and things to do. Among the winners this year are two Sonoma County wineries.
Windsor’s Bricoleur Vineyards and Healdsburg’s Orsi Family Vineyards were named among the 10 Best New Wineries of 2022 — Orsi came in on No. 8 and Bricoleur on No. 9. Nominees within this category, like other 10Best categories, were chosen by a panel of USA Today experts. Readers were then allowed to vote once per category, per day, for four weeks before the contest closed and the winners were announced.
“After opening the doors of our first dedicated tasting room and winery in Healdsburg only one year ago, we couldn’t be prouder of this accolade,” said Bernie Orsi, owner of Orsi Family Vineyards.
Orsi, whose roots trace to Italy’s Lucca region, began his winemaking career by planting Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes 25 years ago. His winery and tasting room, located in the former Geyser Peak Winery just west of downtown Healdsburg, serves 11 estate-grown, limited production Italian wines, including rare varietals such as Biancolella, Schioppettino and Negroamaro. (The winery’s 2018 Schioppettino was awarded Double Gold and Best of Class in The Press Democrat’s 2022 North Coast Wine Challenge.)
Mark and Elizabeth Wall Hanson and daughter Sarah Hanson Citron opened their Bricoleur visitor center in 2020, just before COVID-19 ground tastings and group gatherings to a halt. They had transformed a horse ranch with vineyards into an outdoor haven for visitors, with a lake, culinary garden, rose garden and a shaded pavilion.
As it turned out, Bricoleur’s outdoor setting was ideal for pandemic-times tastings and the winery soon earned recognition for its food and wine pairings. The new Rooted tasting experience pairs small-plate courses with estate-grown wines from the Russian River Valley vineyard and the Hanson-owned Kick Ranch in the Fountaingrove AVA. The current menu includes Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc with Organic Fennel Nage with Mussels and Clams; and Estate Pinot Noir with Anson Mills Organic Spelt Risotto, local mushrooms and smoked bacon lardon.
“I’m so proud of our team,” said Mark Hanson about the USA Today 10Best award. “Our chefs are so creative and, working in sync with our farmer, they’ve crafted innovative estate-to-plate dishes that complement our wines … and our hospitality team welcomes every guest like family.”
Stone Ashe Vineyards in Hendersonville, North Carolina, took the No. 1 spot on USA Today’s 10 Best New Wineries list. See the full list here.
Sofia Englund and Linda Murphy contributed to this article.
Bricoleur Vineyards is open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday – Monday by appointment only; reservations can be made by visiting bricoleurvineyards.com or by calling 707-857-5700. 7394 Starr Road in Windsor, bricoleurvineyards.com
The Orsi Family Vineyards tasting room is open 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Thursday – Monday. Reservations and walk-ins are welcome. 2306 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, 707-732-4660, orsifamilyvineyards.com