Notre Vue means “our view.” But the view from (and of) Windsor-based Notre Vue Estate Winery & Vineyards is just the beginning.
While grapes have been grown on the property dating back to the 1800’s, the Certified Sustainable winery of today, which makes 100 percent estate wines using grapes grown solely on its property, was founded by Bob and Renee Stein in 1992 after the beautiful couple visited the property’s summit and were overcome with its majesty. The land sprawls for more than 700 acres across both the Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill AVAs, but only 200 of them are planted with grapes.
In a true rock star move, the Steins (Bob passed in 2021, but Renee is still actively involved) have set aside considerable acreage as dedicated “Forever Wild” Nature Preserve. The land, covered in wildflowers, oak trees, lush forest and even a small lake is home to thousands of animals, including deer, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, turkeys, cranes, rabbits, owls, hawks and more. There is also access to more than 17 miles of pristine hiking and biking trails, all of which are open to members as well as any guest who purchases three bottles of wine.
And the rest of the land?
In addition to 200 acres of grapes and approximately 350 acres of protected land, Notre Vue features a full-scale lakeside entertainment pavilion and ample hillside terrace versus a traditional tasting room or combination tasting room and restaurant. The terrace, which can host up to 100 wine lovers with space to spare, has a sprinkling of posh outdoor furniture and ultra-modern, glass-encased firepits, and it overlooks the full property in all of its splendor. The lakeside pavilion boasts delicate chandeliers hung from a wooded, rustic structure and can seat up to 40, but intimacy is the focus here.
Tasting experiences are available in both areas, as well as indoors when weather is an issue.
Notre Vue has a standard tasting as well as endless ways to customize the perfect day on property. Plus, ready-made elevated experiences are utter perfection as much because of the talented, outgoing, congenial staff as because of the wine, view and pairings.
The first is the Terrace Lunch with Estate Flight Tasting, which starts at $60 per guest. It is an outdoor experience that gives guests their own dedicated space on the terrace, and over the course of two hours treats the group to a locally sourced gourmet picnic complete with sweets while indulging the tastebuds in both Notre Vue and Balverne wines.
But wait…what is Balverne?
In yet another masterful move, the Steins wanted to pay homage to those who served as stewards of the land before them. The Balverne brand dates back to the 1970’s, growing so popular it was served at both the White House and across Hollywood for years. Guests may now enjoy ultra-premium wines under that label in addition to Notre Vue on property, at local hot spots, and by the bottle online or as members.
Now, back to the tastings.
In addition to standard experiences and the terrace luncheon option, there is also the Eau de Vie reservation available. Eau de Vie translates to “water of life,” and takes place at an intimate table under the chandeliers overlooking the lake. It starts at $65 per person and features a guided journey through Notre Vue’s reserve wines while learning about the sustainability of the land, its rich history and fun facts about Sonoma at large. The experience is complemented by a charcuterie board, but of course enhancements may be reserved through the concierge in advance as well.
During the summer months, Notre Vue also hosts what they call the “Naughty Fox Happy Hour” every other week with live bands, food and releases of their news new wines. There are also semi-regular yoga classes available on the terrace and running clubs that take advantage of the property then finish their workout with a post-run tasting. There are even specialty classes available onsite seasonally, including wine-blending seminars and even an epic mushroom-foraging adventure followed by a mushroom-themed cookie class and tasting.
Ready for a taste? Or maybe a bottle or two? While planning the perfect visit, order a few bottles to enjoy now. Here are some favorites from both labels:
2021 Balverne Rosé of Pinot Noir: Exceptionally refreshing with a delightful crispness and the perfect touch of acid, enjoy floral and fruity aromatics before diving in to the flavors of strawberry and summer peaches in every sip. $24
2019 Balverne Malbec: This lush wine feels as if it should cost well into the hundreds, so it is a steal of a deal and bursts with red plums and freshly made jam. $45
2018 Notre Vue Proprietor’s Red Blend: A love letter to European Bordeaux-style winemaking, every sip of this seductress is nuanced with kisses of chocolate, plums, tart currants and smoke. $59
2019 Notre Vue GSM: This red wine, famously made by the best winemakers in the world from red wine blended from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre – hence the nickname GSM – is layered with spice and jam, especially ripe cherries. There are also slight herbaceous notes that really keep the palate guessing. $69
For more information on Notre Vue, please visit www.notrevueestate.com.