It just started out as Wilson Winery on Dry Creek Road in Sonoma County. For years Diane and Ken Wilson toiled at the winery, quietly making a name for their Zinfandel wines. Then the opportunity came knocking and in just a few years the Wilsons owned an additional five wineries: Matrix, Mazzocco, deLorimier, Jaxon Keys, and Soda Rock.
The latest in this fast-paced acquisition is the Soda Rock Winery in the Alexander Valley on Highway 128. For years we’d driven past Soda Rock Winery in bewilderment. A sign pointed to the entrance to Soda Rock but a quick glance of the area showed no signs of life. The area was dismal and shabby and appeared to be totally abandoned. But apparently someone was making wine in there, Charlie Tomka in fact. At some point within the last couple of years, Charlie Tomka sold the building and the name of the winery to the Wilsons. The vineyards had long been sold off, so no vineyards were part of the deal.
So what a surprise last week when we drove along Alexander Valley Road and approached the Soda Rock Winery. What we saw was quite a surprise. There was a beautifully laid-out picnic area, parking area, refurbished buildings and a new sign begging us to enter. We walked into the tasting room and had a delightful time with our hostess Grace Ormsby. Grace has lived in the area for many years and gave us the full story on Soda Rock, as well as other great wine conversation. The tasting room is huge, and there is an adjacent room that can host a very large group. The outside areas have been landscaped beautifully.
The interesting part about the Soda Rock wines is that none are made from estate-owned vineyards. The grapes come from contracts or from vineyards owned by the Wilsons at the other winery locations. Diane Wilson is the winemaker for all the wineries except at Jaxon Keys. One has to wonder how Diane juggles all this winemaking at each winery and how much the wines differ from one winery to another.
We both thought the wines were very delicious but a little on the expensive side, compared to some of the wineries in this location. Soda Rock is definitely worth a stop along this beautiful drive, and we will be adding Soda Rock to our Alexander Valley Wine Trail. There is a ton of history in this building and for sure worth a “look-see” by any wine lover traveling the very beautiful Alexander Valley.
A good idea is to stop at the Jimtown Store and score a picnic lunch. Sit outside at Soda Rock in the Redwood Tree Grove and enjoy a glass of the Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc.
Life doesn’t get much better than this!