Sixth-generation vintner Katie Bundschu no doubt draws viticultural inspiration from tradition, but it’s evident she also approaches winemaking by looking toward the future. Her newly opened Abbot’s Passage Winery and Mercantile in Glen Ellen is one example of her exploratory spirit — a compass rose emblem on the facade of the circa 1887 building offers an additional hint.
Branching out from her family’s 150-year-old winery, Gundlach Bundschu, Katie Bundschu established Abbot’s Passage winery in 2016 to focus on small-lot blends that “showcase grapes from notable but often overlooked vineyards.” At the time, the winery’s tasting room was housed in a diminutive red barn just off the Sonoma Plaza, which also contained small-but-mighty retail and maker spaces.
Bundschu implemented some big ideas in her small Sonoma store — the new Glen Ellen property allows her to expand on those. Most notably, the new premium tasting experience “The Field” allows visitors to taste Abbot’s Passage wines among gnarly 1940s Zinfandel vines. This private tasting can be reserved for up to four people and includes a flight of wines, a bit of education and a tasting board with house-made items such as kale chips, crackers, and Pt. Reyes cheeses, as well as fruits and vegetables sourced from within a few miles of the winery. To keep visitors dry and warm throughout winter, the winery is installing an open tent and heaters around the tasting tables. If guests would like to pair their tasting experience with a game, they can reserve shuffleboard in two-hour blocks, and the winery’s olive grove offers Adirondack chairs to relax in after the game.
Inside the store, which can only be visited with masks on, there’s a growing collection of wares to browse and shop: vests and bags by Filson, locally-made jewelry by Megan Bo, outdoor blankets, pretty beaded glasses, hats for the dapper hiker, and more. An adjacent shopping space offers pantry items from Gundlach Bundschu’s Rhinefarm estate, which is located on the southwesterly slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, along with Sonoma-made pottery and dried floral swags grown and assembled at Oak Hill Farm just down the road. Cappuccinos will soon be on the menu, a good option for late-morning bikers along Madrone Rd.
During this partial opening due to the pandemic, Abbot’s Passage Winery and Mercantile is focused on establishing its roots while working to expand its offerings. We’re looking forward to the return of workshops—geometric candle-making, feather-drawing and field-inspired watercolor—that took place in the red barn location. Whatever plans unfold, we’re certain Bundschu’s adventurous spirit will keep things moving in an interesting direction.
Abbot’s Passage, 777 Madrone Road, Glen Ellen, 707-939-3017, abbotspassage.com