Gracious staffers pour remarkable Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs at understatedly elegant tasting room.
Renowned for single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, Patz & Hall hosts its guests at the ranch-style Sonoma House. With its vineyard and Mayacamas Mountains views and understatedly elegant contemporary decor, the former residence, 3 miles south of Sonoma Plaza, provides a posh setting for enjoying wines co-founder James Hall fashions from grapes grown in top vineyards.
Hall’s keen understanding of French oak barrels and their effects on the wine-aging process has earned him respect throughout the industry. To achieve the level of quality he desires, Hall involves himself in all aspects of barrel creation, starting with the sourcing of wood from French forests. He also decides the length of time the staves are left to dry and the levels and styles of toasting (lightly burning the insides of barrels to “season” them).
Strikingly Different Results
The winemaker’s decisions about how to use oak can yield strikingly different results depending on the wine. His light touch with a recent vintage of the Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, for instance, resulted in a smooth, clean, uncomplicated taste. By contrast, with the Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay from the same year, Hall purposefully allowed the oak component more prominence. This strategy accentuated an array of subtle flavors inherent in these grapes from a noted producer.
Hall and his team make wines from grapes grown in three of Sonoma County’s high-profile Pinot Noir appellations—Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, and Carneros—along with one from the Santa Lucia Highlands of California’s Central Coast and another from Mendocino County. Aside from the high-quality grapes used to make them, what’s remarkable about these wines is how they exist simultaneously as expressions of the characteristics of their respective regions and vineyards and Hall’s sensibility and experience.
Patz & Hall Hospitality
All visits to Patz & Hall are seated and by appointment only. Hosts of The Sonoma House tasting pour current-release single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. The Seek & Savor Selection includes older wines as well. As it has for decades, the hospitality satisfies without fail.
Why go: wines from multiple regions; elegant setting; satisfying hospitality; vineyard and mountain views.
Patz & Hall appears in Sonoma Pinot Noir Day Trip.
This story originally appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in 2022.