We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Updated on Feb 28th, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

Baldassari Family Wines 2024: The Best of Sonoma County

Baldassari Family Wine Estate, founded in 2003 by Matt and Dom, began with just 92 cases of Bennett Valley Syrah. Dom transitioned from a long career in the mail industry, while Matt, a UC Davis Fermentation Science graduate, was then an assistant winemaker at Quivira Vineyards. Today, Matt serves as the winemaker at Robert Young Estate Winery, while Dom welcomes guests at the tasting lounge in downtown Windsor, CA. Baldassari Wines specializes in showcasing small vineyard sites in Sonoma County, cultivated by independent growers who deeply care about their varietals. With a commitment to crafting wines that reflect the essence of Sonoma County, Baldassari Family Wine Estate continues to seek out exceptional vineyards and growers. DeliveryRank finds out more.

Matt, can you tell us about the unique characteristics of Sonoma County that contribute to the quality and flavor profile of your wines?

Sonoma County is mostly a Mountainous County with towering mountain peaks and ranges that cause wild temperature variations between the valley floors and Mountains. In addition to the topography, the weather pattern is driven by an onshore flow which brings with it almost daily a marine layer which is very similar to fog. 

Marine layers only happen where there are large bodies of water, and they last longer than fog which burns off quickly with the sun. The marine layer pushes in from the coast, but the coastal mountains block its entry, so only lower mountains and valleys allow the marine layer to penetrate. This creates thousands of microclimates where the temperatures vary wildly throughout the county based on the marine layer effect. This creates temperature bands that are perfect to grow almost any grape varietal with the varietals needing the coolest temperatures grown close to the coast and the varietals needing the warmest temps to the eastern part of the county. Combine the temperature variations, the rugged hills and mountains and the complex soil profiles and it allows wine grape production that is seldom matched anywhere else in the world.

How do you select and work with independent growers to ensure that the vineyard sites you use align with your vision for Baldassari Wines?

We pick small, usually independent growers, that focus on quality over quantity and are primarily interested in having long term relationships. We look at the sites to make sure the viticulture (grape growing) is in line with high quality wine grape production, as well as maintaining moderate crop levels and not engaging in activities that will detract from wine grape quality, such as over irrigation and fertilization of grapevines. 

If all these requirements are met then the final barrier is the price of the grapes. Pinot Noir fetches anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 a ton, so cost is a major detail that needs to be ironed out as the price per ton is based on several factors that are not straightforward, but the biggest factor is perceived quality and vineyard reputation. 

Could you describe the winemaking process behind one of your flagship wines, such as the Bennett Valley Syrah or the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir?

The winemaking process for our flagship reds is usually two years from grape receival until the wine is bottled. It is a slow process and one that can be unforgiving if you make a mistake- patience is key. We start by sampling grapes as they get closer to a ripeness level where we would harvest the wine grapes. Bud Break usually takes place in early March, and we typically harvest most grapes in September and some in October. 

Grape varieties have bud break at different times with varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir breaking bud first and varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah breaking bud late. Most other varieties fall in between the aforementioned. As September approaches the grapes accumulate sugar and decrease in acid, skins soften, and aromas and flavors become intense. 

We measure acids, sugars and sample for color when crushed, aroma and flavors when eaten. The sugar directly relates to the wine’s final alcohol level, so it is important to keep that in parameter if a style is trying to be achieved year over year. Once we decide to pick the fruit the grapes are hand harvested and delivered in ½ ton bins. In this case, I’ll use Pinot Noir as the grape we will make wine into. The fruit is processed through a series of specialized pieces of equipment that allows the fruit to be separated on to a belt so it can be hand sorted. This process allows the removal of rot, raisins or any other defects that would detract from wine quality. 

Once the fruit is sorted a machine separates the berries from the stems so gently that the berries remain intact. The berries are then delivered to an open top tank (tank has no lid). The berries and juice are in the tank now and are called “must”. This “must” will make the resulting wine. 

We check the sugars and acids of the must and make any adjustments that are necessary to keep the wines final alcohol and acid levels where we want them to be. Once this has been completed, we will add yeast to the wine and allow fermentation to begin. The yeast consumes sugar and produces Carbon Dioxide and alcohol as a byproduct. 

The carbon dioxide produced begins to push the berries to the top of the tank and the fermenting juice remains below. Because the flavor, aroma and color come form the skins the skins need to be pushed back into the wine periodically to keep them from drying out and to allow the extraction into the fermenting juice to continue. Once all the sugar is fermented and none is remaining the wine is pumped to another tank leaving the skins behind. 

The skins are manually removed from the tank and put into a press that presses the remaining juice away from skins to the tank where the juice was drained combing the two together. You now have a new, young Pinot Noir wine. The wine is allowed to settle in tanks the sediment drops to the bottom of the tank. After 2-3 days the wine is pumped off the sediment to barrels. At this point another fermentation takes place called malolactic fermentation. This fermentation is completed by bacteria whereas alcohol fermentation is completed by yeast.  Malolactic fermentation changes a harsh acid present in all grapes to another acid that is softer and makes the resulting wine taste softer and less harsh. This is a natural process, and all red wines will do this on their own if left. We encourage it to happen after fermentation by making the conditions, temperature and bacteria, available to the wine. 

Once completed you have a finished wine. However, this wine will not taste like the wines you are accustomed to and if consumed now it would not be liked. The next process is adding Sulfur dioxide to stabilize the wine and help protect the wine against oxidation. The Pinot Nor will then age in French Oak barrels for 2 years in which time slow reactions between the wine and oxygen over time increase the flavor and aroma complexity and soften the wine. When the winemaker decides the wine is ready to bottle, the Pinot Noir will be pumped out of barrels and gently filtered to remove sediment and increase clarity and help stabilize the wine against microbial damage later in the bottle. Once the wine is bottled it is aged usually for an additional year to allow further refinement and only then it is ready to consume. YUM!

What sets Baldassari Wines apart from other wineries in Sonoma County, both in terms of winemaking philosophy and the wines you produce?

At a time in Sonoma County where many small wineries are disappearing or being purchased by larger brands, we are becoming more and more a vestige of an earlier time in the county where all wineries were small family-owned brands. Because of our small size, 1,500 cases total, we take small, high quality vineyard sites that would never be considered by bigger wineries because of their size and volume needs. We are not under pressure to create a certain style or type of wine as happens in larger corporate owned wineries so we have artistic freedom to create styles and types of wine that you would not see in the grocery stores.  

We aim to showcase the grape varietals that perform the best in the best growing areas for those varieties. We do not blend our grape varieties, so each variety is actually 100% of that variety. It is allowed, by law to blend as much as 25% of another grape into the bottled labeled grape and still call the wine that variety alone. In other words, you can label a wine “Cabernet Sauvignon” and blend up to 25% Merlot into it legally. These wines are still good wines, but they taste less like Cabernet Sauvignon the more you blend into them. We choose to keep our wines all 100% varietal and pick areas that will showcase the variety at their best without needed to blend other varieties in. 

As a small-batch producer, how do you balance maintaining quality and consistency across vintages while also showcasing the unique characteristics of each harvest and vineyard site?

As a small producer we don’t run away from vintage differences but encourage them. Larger producers, particularly ones that sell wines in grocery stores are trying to make wines that taste very similar across vintages, so customers know what to expect, taste profile wise. Sometimes the wines need more manipulation in difficult vintages to hit that style consistently. In our opinion that detracts from the best the wine could be because rather than letting the vintage speak to what it wants to be, you are forcing the wine into a style that may not be appropriate for the wine for that year. This will always require blending and manipulation which ultimately detracts from what the wine could have been. 

For instance, for cooler vintages the red wines usually have less color, less overtly ripe fruit characters and have lower tannin profiles. In warmer vintages the wines usually have the opposite characteristics and then there are all the vintages in between. We label wines with vintage dates because we understand that the vintages are different, sometimes radically, and we should be able to talk to those points and make wines that show the essence of that vintage. It is for this very reason that collectors buy vintages that are perceived to be “great vintages” and avoid vintages that were not praised by critics and winemakers for the difficulty of the growing season. 

We make our wines with the same technique each year, though different by varietal. We allow the vintage to show through in the final wines but the techniques we use and the barrels we choose allow for a familiar taste and aroma profile across vintages even though the richness and other attributes may vary. 

If you would like to find out more about Baldassari Family Wine, please visit https://www.bfwwine.com


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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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