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Medlock-Ames and Bell Mountain Ranch - A 'Must' Sonoma wine country experience

Bell Mountain Ranch vineyards and gardens are pastoral and inviting.
Bell Mountain Ranch vineyards and gardens are pastoral and inviting.
L. Compisi

There are legions of tasting rooms and wine country experiences in Sonoma County so it can be helpful to identify special ones that offer a unique experience that is hard to beat. Medlock-Ames tasting room and their Bell Mountain Ranch achieve this distinction.

The Medlock Ames Tasting Room on Alexander Valley Road reflects the vibrancy and philosophy of the partners.
The Medlock Ames Tasting Room on Alexander Valley Road reflects the vibrancy and philosophy of the partners.
L. Compisi

The name sakes and friends, co-owners Chris Medlock James (a San Francisco financier) and Ames Morison (the winemaker) met while attending Tulane University. Morison did a stint in the Peace Corps and they spent some time in New York, before they decided to move to California in 1998 to make wine. As they say, the rest is history.

Both the home ranch, on Bell Mountain, and the tasting room are located in the Alexander Valley but they are not contiguous. The ranch is located off of Chalk Hill Road, at the southwestern tip of the Alexander Valley and is somewhat remote. Bell Mountain, the 335 acre ranch, is a bit of Shangri-La with its amazing gardens and sustainable approach to grape growing and wine making. Just 56 of those acres are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot vines. The remainder is dedicated to gardens, olive orchards, ponds, natural habitat for bees, sheep and other flora and fauna.

The winery, cellars and caves are also located on Bell Mountain. Custom-built, the winery supports a functional and elegant winemaking process employing gravity-flow techniques to reduce energy consumption. Gravity flow techniques also helps preserve delicate fruit characteristics. The winery itself is 100% solar-powered with clean, renewable (free) energy. Winemaker Ames Morison is the face of the winery. Ames presents a genuine passion for people and wine as illustrated by his travels around the country for winemaker dinners in Toledo, Ohio and elsewhere.

The tasting room is much more accessible located on Alexander Valley Road just a few miles north and east of Healdsburg in a former general store (with a full liquor license that they exploit after hours as a local watering hole). Again, the partners have created gardens and a particularly inviting environment for their club members parties and regular tasting experiences for the general public. The energetic tasting room staff, lead by Brad Schneider, Tasting Room Manager, is knowledgeable and focused on the best experience the customer can attain.

A private tour and lunch at Bell Mountain Ranch provides the opportunity to learn more about how they farm, tour their vineyards and gardens, visit the cellar and taste wines in an exceptionally idyllic setting. Call 707.431.8845 for reservations and details.