Darling: adjective; beloved. It’s the word that comes to mind when walking into one of Sonoma Valley’s newest tasting rooms, Hamilton Family Wines.
A darling couple owns this darling location, where guests can sip on a pure glass of Rosé of Grenache or Pinot Noir under the shade of growing olive trees on the back patio garden.
There’s nothing not to love when tasting at this brightly painted chateau right off of the main boulevard in Sonoma County’s Kenwood neighborhood. The boutique label, owned by husband-and-wife team, Lindsay and Greg Hamilton, makes small-production Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Grenache, Pinot Noir, GSM and a Cab-based blend. All are handcrafted in Sonoma Valley with the help of winemaker Jess Wade, a well-known local maker whose work always emphasizes natural fermentation and minimal-intervention practices to curate pure, whole tastes in each wine.
“We just want the grape to sing its song,” says Greg, as he pours a glass of 2018 Indian Springs Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, a batch planted on two different rootstocks bringing out different fruit-forward tastes. Each sip is filled with a citrus zest and complemented with a more ripe style filled with savory notes of pear, apricot and a subtle honeysuckle, something Hamilton spoke about while wearing a grin from ear to ear.
Though the ambiance and owners make this label so inviting, what also gives Hamilton Family Wines such charm is its story of strength and tenacity when facing odds and obstacles. This is a family and company that has taken hypothetical lemons and turned them into wine.
The darling label and brand came to be in late 2017 after unexpected hardship struck the lives of the Hamilton family. The two, with a shared passion and love for wine, moved their family from Berkeley to Sonoma Valley’s Kenwood neighborhood on land with almost four acres of their own grapevines in 2016.
The relocation was a sign of investment into their beloved craft and the start of a new prosperous chapter.
However, this is where the smooth sailing was interrupted. In late 2017, the Hamiltons lost everything as the Nuns Fire swept through Sonoma Valley destroying most in its 56,000-acre path – including the Hamiltons’ home, property and crops. By the outpouring of love and support of the Kenwood and Sonoma Valley community, the family was able to start rebuilding every aspect of their life after such extreme devastation.
From the ashes of their original plans emerged Hamilton Family Wines, the product of re-rooting themselves into rich soil fed by a gracious community – one pouring back into the family so that they may continue to in-return pour their passions into every future bottle.
The wines, a product of their love for the place that helped lift them up in one of the most difficult seasons, are made to reflect the “spirit of the people and pay homage to the beautiful moon reflecting over such a beautiful Valley,” Lindsay says.
Now when tasting, enjoy some of Hamilton Family Wines’ greatest hits: 2018 Indian Springs Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, 2021 Hi-Vista Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2021 Estate Grown Sonoma Valley Rosé of Grenache, 2018 Placida Vineyard Russian River Pinot Noir, 2018 Maus Vineyard Moon Mountain GSM and 2019 The Phoenix Sonoma Valley (Cabernet Franc, 53 percent; Cabernet Sauvignon, 39 percent; Merlot, 8 percent).
Hamilton Family Wines tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday and Tuesday tastings are available upon appointment. Tastings are $45 per person, or waived with a $100 purchase per person.
The Hamilton family also owns a rental home for mini getaways on their property, just down the street from the tasting room. At The Carriage House at Hamilton Family Vineyards, guests can stay among the vines on the working Sonoma Valley vineyard.
For more information, visit hamilton.wine.