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Just Over the Hill in Wine Country; Taft Street Winery

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Garagiste is French for one who makes wine in his or her garage. Although Taft Street Garagistes no longer make wine in a garage, it is how they bill themselves, because, that's where they started back in 1979. Mike Tierney and Mike Martini now have a proper winery in Sebastopol. Their vineyards are wherever their grapes are sourced.

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While a visit to their tasting room is relaxed and fun, their wines are award winning, garnering such accolades as 'Best Buy' from Wine Spectator. The 'garagistes series' Sauvignon Blanc is made in 100% stainless steel. The flavors are soft orchard fruit like pear and peach with notes of lemon grass. At 14.2% alcohol, it's a Sauvignon Blanc with a kick. The Russian River Valley Chardonnay spends nine months in oak, giving it a toasted almond flavor along with some creamy citrus and a tangy finish. The Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is bright and crisp with berry, pepper and vanilla flavors. The Alexander Valley Merlot has some nice dark plum, sweet cherry, violet and oak flavors. The Russian River Valley Pinot Gris had aromas of peach, pear and apricot with some mineral acidity.

The tasting room is small, but lively. The patio is often sun-drenched. And the cat, Finn, is very friendly. Taft Street Winery is located at 2030 Barlow Lane in Sebastopol. Their tasting room is open daily from 11am to 4pm. Www.taftstreetwinery.com

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