Wines from Healdsburg’s Passalacqua Winery would, no doubt, taste delightful at an urban gallery opening or swanky dinner party. But owner Jason Passalacqua prefers you sip his vintages around a campfire, at the beach or perhaps after an elk-hunting expedition.
Passalacqua’s small-lot wines—primarily cabernets and zinfandels—“pair with fresh air,” according to the fourth-generation vineyard owner, hunter and outdoorsman. Inspired in winemaking and in all aspects of life by what he describes as “holistic, simple and natural,” Passalacqua loves sharing his vineyard-designate wines with like-minded oenophiles who are not afraid to sip from a YETI tumbler while riding an ATV.
Hence his Cabernet Ranch Tours. Led by Passalacqua or winemaker Jessica Boone, these by-appointment hourslong adventures through 120 acres of Dry Creek cabernet vineyards are designed for connoisseurs who don’t simply want to talk about terroir, but trek through it, breathe it in and sip limited-edition cabernets in the vineyards of their origin.
“All winemakers can talk about where grapes are grown, and it often sounds very romantic,” says Passalacqua, who studied engineering at Santa Clara University and spent a decade in Silicon Valley before returning to his family’s land. “We delve much deeper. You see exactly where the sun falls; you pick up the soil; you taste the variables of nature in the vineyard.”
In winter, Passalacqua offers another (free) excursion for wine club members only: foraging for wild mushrooms in his secret spots in the Sonoma County hills, followed by an alfresco wine-paired lunch. To join the club, call the winery. e club’s other perks include invitations to events such as wild game-paired lunches. Cabernet Ranch Tours $450 per person (includes six bottles of cabernet), or $900 per couple (includes a case of cabernet), 3805 Lambert Bridge Road, 707.433.5550, passalacquawinery.com