11 September 2010

Lone Madrone on Highway 46 West

We headed out to Highway 46 West to visit Lone Madrone Tasting Room. It also had the added attraction of an Fat Cat Herb Garden Nursery.

It should be noted that Wine Tasting Rooms are not necessarily The Winery. The winery could be in another part of the state.

Such was the case for Lone Madrone. There was even another winery sharing the tasting room, Kenneth Volk Winery.

The day was a pleasant late summer Sunday. As we entered, a band was playing folksy music, kids were harassing penned up chickens, and there was an overly strong whiff of bathroom cleaning liquid coming from the front and center loo. Bad design, but it may have been unavoidable.

The herb garden was sweet. I think it is nice to have a mix of things, so if you find a nice wine, you can get a glass and wander around. We wandered first however, and tasted second.

We went through some double doors and landed at the Volk tasting bar, long and lonely. A women appeared and informed us that for ten dollars each, we could taste six wines off this list and we would get the glasses too. Big “Volk Winery” etched on the 16 oz wine glasses. We were also informed that just around the corner, for an additional five dollars, we could taste Lone Madrone wines.

Now I’m not good at this. It feels a little like walking into someone’s house and refusing their hospitality. Shiny huge glasses and a lengthy list of surely delicious wines, what’s a girl to do?

Turn to her hubby and say, “Whadda ya think?” He smiles brightly and replies, “Let’s wander around.” And that’s my cue to turn to the glasses, wine list, and woman, and say, “We’re going to wander around a bit before tasting.” And then we leave.

I feel like saying, “Don’t take it personal, but 10 bucks for 6 tablespoons of wine doesn’t float my boat.” I think The Mister might add, “We don’t need anymore GIANT wine glasses either.”

So we wander the gift shoppe and find much of the same stuff we saw at EOS (on Highway 46 East) a few weeks ago.

Around the corner was another long bar, this time with people, where Lone Madrone was pouring. I think if you’re going to have the capacity of the long bar, having some people laughing and sipping feels much more inviting.

So we belly up and study their list. A bearded young man came over and started us off on the pre-plan run. This is the way these days. It used to be you were asked, what do like? Reds or whites? Or a particular varietal?

But not anymore. Now they assume you want it all. First a white, then a rose, then a red, then another red, then yet another red. My palette gets a little confused after four tastes, so I want those tastes to be what I want. At this point our pourer disappeared. I looked to my companion and said, “I want to try the Syrah.” It’s on the list, I see, but apparently it’s not on the tasting program as I learn when I ask another pourer. She tells me if I was going to buy 6 bottles, then maybe they would let me taste it, but no… Hmmm.

Wrong thing to say, Lone Madrone. I love a good Syrah, and if I tasted it, and I liked it, I’d buy a case.

She then offers up “the very funny and delicious Zin that everybody likes and has such a funny name. hohoho.”

We tried it, and it tasted fine like the big bold Zin it was with a high alcohol and a touch of Barbera. But what an unfortunate choice for a name.


It’s not that funny. I mean who hasn’t had mean red wine hangover?

At this point I was thinking of having my tongue scraped when I noticed that up on top of their wine list, it was printed that there is a ten dollars tasting fee. Gee. No one asked us for money when we first started, so I was wondering if they would ask us now. What would we say? Sorry left my wallet at home, in the car, in my other pants. Or just shrug and walk away? Or do you want your Barfandel back?

It didn’t matter. We were done. Unimpressed with this tasting room and the unremarkable wines (and being force to taste Rose. The horror.)

On the way home we discussed the finer points. I do understand that the wine tasting competition along both 46 East and West is fierce. That having an angle is paramount to getting an audience and the repeat audience, and clearly this tasting room’s “hooks” are outdoor music and kid friendly activities, though I think barnyard animals should not be handled all day long. The herb nursery was cute, but what did it have to do with the wine tasting. And one winery held up to the charge for tasting and the other did not. Is that fair? They were three feet from each other.

It was like three companies came together but did not intertwine. An odd vibe all the way around.


  1. Hey, I really like your style of writing. It's so cheerful and energetic. Keep up the good work.

  2. Great review. I thought one time that you said you liked Rose...? Or maybe this one was just bad. (I am not a particular fan nor critic; I usually just drink either Chardonnay or Cabernet. I'll drink different things, but most of the time I'm boring.)

  3. Thanks Amanda, Rose with an accent on the e is not my favorite, tho I've tasted a few good ones. I like reds and a good buttery Char too (Bonny Doon had one Char which was out-of-this-world and coincidentally had a tasting bar at this spot years ago.) More on varietals in my next review (which is way overdue).


Thanks for sharing!