WALT Wines Review
Address: 380 First St. West Sonoma,California 95476.
Phone Number: 707-933-4440
Tasting Hours: 11:00-6:00
Region: Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley AVA, California
Reviewer: Sherrie Perkovich
Review Date: 2/22/2014
Reviewer: Sherrie Perkovich
WALT Wines, based in the town of Sonoma, specializes in the production of artisan Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Pacific Coasts most distinctive vineyard sites, spanning nearly 1000 miles. Vintners Kathryn Walt Hall and Craig Hall of both Walt and Hall family wine industry fame own WALT Wines. They began in 2009 as an idea to get back to their grape-growing and winemaking roots that date back to the early 1970s. Kathryn Hall and her family have been grape growers in Mendocino County since 1972. The Walt family owns 63 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc in the Redwood Valley and has sold their grapes to wineries such as Fetzer, Parducci and Beringer. Kathryn managed the family vineyard from 1982 to 1992.
The Winery:  WALTs quaint tasting room is conveniently located in the town of Sonoma just off the historic town square. The tasting room is located in a hip-ly redesigned house with a tasting bar, small tables sprinkled throughout, and a lovely garden in back featuring picnic tables and massive, old trees. Wine club members are allowed to bring food and take full advantage of the space outside. Some of the vineyard sources for WALT Wines are organic, and HALL is a certified organic grower. However, WALT wines are not certified organic.
The Tasting: WALT does a wonderful job of hiring very knowledgeable and personable wine educators to work in their tasting room. Ive been there no less than six times, and each time I am there I find myself refreshed, relaxed and enjoying my experience. If you are lucky, tasting room manager Scott Herrmann will be there to conduct your tasting for you. He has a lovely energy, is engaging, and knows his stuff.
There are several wine tasting options at WALT. Guests can walk in and taste at the bar, very similar to many tasting rooms in wine country. Guests can also grab a spot at one of the tables located throughout the tasting room. For those who prefer more staff interaction, the bar is the place to be. Guests who prefer a more leisurely experience should grab a seat at one of the tables.
Walk-in tastings are welcome, however, for groups of 6 or more, reservations are required. The standard fee for the wine tasting experience, which typically lasts 45 minutes, is $20 per person. A $30 per person, seated, wine and cheese pairing can also be scheduled in advance. During this tasting, visitors taste through a flight of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir paired with artisan cheeses. This is a wonderful way to taste the nuances in the terroir, as well as to appreciate how the wines change with the introduction of food. Tasting fees are waived with the purchase of two or more bottles.
The Wines:  WALT is primarily known for its Pinot Noir and produces ten different Pinot Noirs from the following appellations: Sonoma County, Anderson Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, and the Willamette Valley. WALT also produces a Sonoma Coast and a Sonoma County Chardonnay. Some of my favorites are:
2012 Chardonnay, La Brisa, Sonoma County $35 – this is a bright and acidic style of Chardonnay, right up my alley; fabulous tropical fruits with a hint of a little something sweet on the nose and finish.
2012 Pinot Noir, La Brisa, Sonoma County $40 – excellent vineyard source, well known for their small, yet vibrant yields; lots of berries with a touch of toastiness on the finish; for $40 this is a steal.
2012 Pinot Noir, Blue Jay, Anderson Valley $40 – one of my favorites at WALT; this Anderson Valley Pinot is elegant, slightly spicy with great structure and mid-palate; drink it now or stash it away for a few years (if you can).
2012 Pinot Noir, Ritas Crown, Sta. Rita Hills $65 – might be my favorite Pinot they make; this wine has a lot going on and is a bit deceiving. Its light color leads you by the nose into thinking it will be a light, summer Pinot, but in fact, it has fabulous complexity and depth that oozes with bright cherries and a hint of minerality. Just delightful.