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The closest you’ll get to Italy besides actual Italy

Guys. I have got to share with you my recent visit to VJB cellars’ tasting experience in Sonoma. WOW. This little spot looks unsuspecting from the entrance, but when you walk in, you are transported into Italy. The smell of the pizza kitchen, the quaint and authentic deli, and the dark barrel room surround a gorgeous patio restaurant that was build by its owners who wanted to bring a little of their home country to Sonoma.

First of all, the hospitality in Sonoma is bar none. I could not believe how happy and friendly everyone was to us- definitely a more hospitable vibe than most spots in Napa. Our server started us out with a glass of Prosecco made by their friends in Italy, and showed us around the property. She gave us a little peak of the vineyard where veraison was just starting! We then sat down and had a little taste of their 2017 Gabriella Ranch Chardonnay, which is fermented in 100% stainless steel and was light and crisp with a little bit of butter on the finish.

We then moved to their 2016 Rossi Family Blend (Zinfandel 50%, Barbera 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%) which was probably one of my favorites of the day. Cinnamon, spice, vanilla and raspberry with a light acidic finish made this one a fantastic pairing for pizza. The Blend was surprisingly lighter for three generally bolder grapes, but had a gorgeous roundness to it that made me want more.

We then ordered some food for lunch and they brought us a GORGEOUS charcuterie board, which we demolished pretty quickly. It paired perfectly with the 2016 Primitivo, another one of my favorites of the day. This one had lovely flavors of cherry, strawberry, fig and vanilla.

Next, our pizza, a Caesar salad and ribs arrived as we tasted the 2016 Nebbiolo. This is known as the noble grape for good reason: berries, tart cherry, cranberry and spice made this so enjoyable that I bought a bottle to take home with me!

We got the meat lovers pizza which actually had finely chopped charcuterie meats made into the sauce and it was UNREAL. Also, the Caesar dressing is handmade everyday and was one of the best I’ve ever had. Don’t even get me started on the pork ribs... we literally ate all the food- my only regret was not ordering more to take home with me.

We finished off the tasting with the 2017 Estate Negro Amaro and the 2017 Estate Montepulciano. Both were smooth and complex, showing off the best that Sonoma has to offer right here at VJB.

The next time you’re up in wine country, you HAVE to come check this gem out. I guarantee you will not regret experiencing this little slice of Italy right here in California.

Comment below to share your favorite spots in wine country!

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