Sobon Estate Review
Address: 14430 Shenandoah Rd Plymouth,California 95669.
Phone Number: 209-245-6554
Tasting Hours: 9:30-5:00
Region: Sierra Foothills AVA, Amador County, California Shenandoah Valley AVA, California
Reviewer: Yvonne Kochanowski
Review Date: 5/4/2012
Reviewer: Yvonne Kochanowski
Over 150 years ago, vines from what is now Sobon Estate were already feeding Californias growing wine industry. Sobon Estate was founded in 1989, the second winery owned by the Sobon family after its older sister Shenandoah Vineyards located nearby. Today, over 160 acres provides the grapes for these estate wines, along with companion plantings of olives, nuts and other crops.
The Place:  Set in rolling hills with vines covering almost every reasonable acre from valley floor to hilltop, Sobon is a treat for a variety of reasons. Its museum gives visitors a look at winemaking and life dating back to 1856, when the DAgostini Winery was located on this same property. The winery carries both California Historical Landmark and California Agricultural Landmark status. Sustainable farming practices are used throughout the vineyards, including integrated pest management, composting, and reuse and recycle.
The Experience:  Sobon is definitely low-key on a weekday. The picnic area overlooks vineyards and items too large to store in the museum, like an old pump cart for moving juice and other farm equipment. Make sure to allow adequate time to visit the museum a real plus in helping to understand the depth of history in winemaking in this region. Shopping is available in the the tasting room where you can find some unique humor items like aprons and doormats that convince you there is nothing more fun than being into wine!
The Wines:  As found in many wineries locally, Sobon is best known for its Zinfandels, with some of these vines dating back 100 years or more. The taste of any particular Zinfandel selection is often based on the many differentiated microclimates within the familys acreage. Many of the wines win frequent awards or are noteworthy in major wine and popular press listings. The Tannat, available on the reserve list, is unique in this region, and its an experience not to be missed! Wines are very reasonably priced and specials are often available.
The People:  On our visit, our tasting room host had been with the winery for 22 years! She was able to tell us about the vines, the wines, the winemaking techniques, the family of owners, and much more. Youre likely to be able to talk with vineyard workers and cellar rats informally as well. All are knowledgeable and willing to share what they know about the history and practices of the winery and vines.
Insiders Tip:  The museum is a treasure of wine and regional history all by itself. Old pieces of winemaking equipment, historical photos and copies of manifests and diaries, and tools used in farming and in everyday life make it an interesting step into the past around the Gold Rush era. Dont miss the original large casks in the old winery, which is located under the large house (now a private residence). Theyre still in use today!