Sometimes your days don't turn out anything like what you expected.
And sometimes, that is a magnificent thing.
Our last day in Sonoma was the date of our actual wedding anniversary. We had started out cycling through a number of vineyards before stopping for a picnic lunch consisting of delectable sandwiches we had picked up during breakfast. The afternoon plan was simple: stop by Figone's for a quick olive oil tasting before heading back to the Plaza in Sonoma Valley for dinner at The Girl & the Fig.
But then, sort of on a whim, we remembered one of the wines that we had loved at Sonoma County Wine Weekend. In fact, we liked it so much we had stopped the people who were holding the bottle and asked them for a photo.
I remember the guy telling me, "Guess what? You've got the man himself right here!"
At the time I wasn't sure exactly what he meant, but it turns out I was taking a photo of the owner, Robert Kamen, as well as his viticulturist, Phil Coturri.
We found out their tasting room was right in Sonoma, just around the corner from our dinner location. Though their website said they closed at 6PM (and we most certainly weren't going to make it by then), Bryan said, "it doesn't hurt to ask."
Hi. What time does your tasting room close today?
We tried your wine at the Sonoma County Wine Weekend yesterday and totally fell in love with it. We wanted to stop by and see if we could taste your other wines and possibly purchase some. We're probably like 20 minutes away?
Hmmm . . . I’ll have to ask. I can’t promise we’ll be open though, but we’ll try.
It was about 6:10 when we finally arrived. We peered in the closed glass door. There were a few people inside, and one man, who appeared to be the one in control, beckoned us to enter.
“You want to try some wine? Sure, I’ll pour you some wine.”
He immediately pulled out two glasses and began pouring. All made biodynamically, we found his wines to be deep, rich, and nicely complex. We were especially drawn to the Kashmir Cuvee, the special reserve wine we had tried at the festival the day before. The Cabernet Sauvignon was also excellent.
We looked up and saw movie references above our heads. Familiar sayings like “Wax On, Wax Off:, and “I will find you, I will kill you", lined the stark, modern white walls of the space.
It turns out that the owner, Robert Kamen, is a Hollywood screenwriter. He has written tons of films over the last 20+ years, including the Karate Kid series, the Transporter series, The Fifth Element, and Taken. We also met Bianca, one of the wine educators who also worked in the tasting room.
Robert pointed at a pretty photo hanging at the back of the shop. It showed a beautiful sunset with rows and rows of grapevines.
“That’s a photo of the vineyard. If you look in the far distance, you can see San Francisco.”
“It’s so pretty there, especially during sunset. Would you be interested in seeing it? I can take you on a brief tour - we'll just catch the sunset. It’s only three miles from here.”
Bryan and I looked at each other. A private tour by Robert Kamen of his property?
Yes, we were supposed to be at The Girl & the Fig at 7PM. But this seemed like such an incredible opportunity. Thankfully, Bianca was kind enough to help us move our dinner reservation back.
Before you knew it, we found ourselves in Robert Kamen's car, driving up a hilly back road to the vineyard.
It would end up being, by far, the most surreal, beautiful, and fascinating part of our entire trip.
Before long, Robert pointed to a gate on our left. This is the home of one of the band members in Metallica. On the other side of the road stood a piece of property that, until recently, had belonged to Danny Glover.
And then we arrived at the top of the hill. As we entered through the metal gates, Robert began telling us about the history of the property. He had purchased it in 1979 with his paycheck from his first screenplay. The hillside was a blank slate at the time. He put in a ton of work adding dirt roads, piping in water and electricity, and setting up the land for organic farming.
Like these gorgeous vines.
Or these olive trees.
As if that wasn't enough, we spotted a rainbow when we reached the top of the hill.
We were nearly speechless.
We got out of the car.
Robert asked, "Have you ever ridden an ATV?"
Next thing you knew, we were strapped into this tiny little vehicle heading down the narrow dirt paths straight into the vineyard.
"This is how I travel around the property."
The view was spectacular.
Robert explained to us the different types of grapes that were grown and also his commitment to organic and biodynamic farming.
We stopped briefly near some white grapes.
I was surprised how sweet they were. Perhaps it's my own misconception, but I always assumed that wine grapes were really sour and not good for eating. These were super juicy and sweet.
Our next stop was at a fig tree, where Robert picked a few figs for us to eat (you can see the ATV in the back, too).
I have never, ever eaten a fresh fig off the tree. Can I tell you how amazing it is? In fact, my memory of it was so strong that I immediately bought some figs at the grocery store in Boston when I got back.
Sadly, they were nowhere as good as these juicy ones from the Kamen Vineyard grounds.
After taking a brief tour around the vineyard, Robert drove the ATV back up the hill to the house, which seriously has the best view of the vineyard.
The sun was just starting to set, illuminating the sky into brilliant colors.
If you look really hard, you can barely make out San Francisco in the far, far distance.
We stood in silence, marveling at the stunning sunset.
As we drove back to town, the sky continued to turn more and more pink.
It was awe-inspiring.
Even Robert was amazed, pointing out the window during our car ride back.
"Just look at that. Isn't that beautiful? I rarely ever see this here."
It was a perfect way to cap off our anniversary - a gorgeous sunset, a rainbow (!), and a gracious host willing to take a little time out of his day to show us his incredible property.
We recently received our first shipment of Kamen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, and we have already finished two bottles. Bryan was thrilled to learn that they ship to Massachusetts (most wineries do not), and therefore it was one of the few wine clubs that we could actually seriously consider joining (and did!). We're saving the Kashmir Cuvee, their special reserve wine that we tried at the festival, for a celebration sometime down the road.
Looking a bit shiny because we had gone for a three hour bike ride earlier that day!
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[…] at the corner of the square with gleaming brand new tasting room. We stopped by our good friend Robert Kamen’s tasting room (also in Sonoma Square) to taste his new Lava Block Cabernet (it’s phenomenal). We are wine […]