You may or may not have heard of Ram’s Gate but you can’t have missed it if you drive to Sonoma with any regularity. Since my parents live there, I’ve often driven by so I’ve seen it morph into its current modern-style winery extravaganza. It used to be the little-visited Roche Vineyards characterized (at least for me) by a sad patch of vineyard in a low, puddle-prone area right by the road that would, even after a slight rainfall, effectively drown the vines.
Ram’s Gate was quite a transformation, as the old Roche barn was taken down and replaced with a rustic-modern building that is more wine bar than tasting room. I wish I’d taken pictures but you can get the idea here on their website. It’s a pretty cool idea, and all the wines are Ram’s Gate wines. You order them by the glass, with or without small plates of food, find a place to sit inside or outside, and look at the great views, which are all around. On our visit, we were greeted by a concierge at the door who ushered us over to the wine bar. I hadn’t heard much about Ram’s Gate’s wine so I was excited to see that there was a cool-climate Syrah for sale. Even though it was 90 degrees out and I was thinking of something more in the white or rosé category, I went for it.
I was more than pleasantly surprised. The wine was definitely pushing into the warm climate range with its low tannin and acidity but it had a lot of cool-climate characteristics. On the nose, I got peppercorn, cured meat, violets, blackberry and even an unmistakable aroma of Olvatine in powdered form, not yet added to milk or water (I know, somebody stop me). This was a wine that again confirmed my growing suspicion that Carneros is really becoming a sweet spot for Syrah. This wine had the perfect combination of both warm and cool-climate characteristics and there’s no doubt in my mind that it would please many wine-drinkers who are on both the warm and cool sides of the fence.