The grand opening of Bricoleur Vineyards, which was scheduled for May 2nd, was expected to bring hundreds of wine-loving friends and family to the new 40-acre estate in Windsor, California, lush with olive trees, orchards, vineyards, and views of the Russian River Valley.
Guests would have milled about the grounds, tossing bocce balls while drinking wine and snacking on canapés in celebration of the dream project that came together as its French name, a term for an artistic handyman, suggests: bit by thoughtful bit.
When COVID-related ordinances put a ban on large group gatherings, the opening fete was necessarily put off, but a soft opening in early summer means visitors are now beginning to trickle in for a taste of this lovely new family endeavor.
Techie-turned-farmer Mark Hanson (standing at right with mask) hosts guests for socially distanced wine tastings on the trellised patio.(Photo by Kailani Andrade)
From tech entrepreneur-turned-farmer Mark Hanson, his wife Elizabeth—herself the granddaughter of a legendary Sonoma County winemaker—and their daughter, Sarah Hanson Citron, Bricoleur (pronounced the French way) is adapting to pandemic-era wine tasting like so many of its neighbors, iterating on its initial vision to suit safety and social distancing.
Donning masks and gloves, the team is pouring tastings outside where guests can sit in shaded Adirondack chairs on the lawn to swirl and sip the already-award-winning wines—their Flying by the Seat of Our Pants North Coast Brut won Double Gold and Best in Class, while several other varietals took home silver medals at the 2020 International Women's Wine Competition.
All wines here are sustainably farmed and hand-crafted by Cary Gott, a fourth-generation winemaker in a family of famous winemakers, including his own son, Joel Gott. Gott Sr. has known winemaking and viticulture his whole life. Now at Bricoleur, he oversees the creation of a dozen varietals, including pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and zinfandel, which are affordable at $27 to $45 a bottle.
Side-by-side tastings of two estate rosés (of grenache and pinot noir) reveal a light, elegant daytime rosé with notes of peach and citrus, and a supple crisp evening rosé with hints of orange zest and orchid. Oaked and unoaked chardonnays are also offered as side-by-side tastings. The pinot noir is grown onsite, while the zinfandel comes from Demostene Vineyard in the acclaimed Alexander Valley. Wines can be purchased onsite and online, and wine club membership is offered at several levels.
(Photo by Kailani Andrade)
Food has always been part of the Hansons' grand vision for Bricoleur. Chef Shane McAnnely, formerly of Healdsburg's Chalkboard and Brass Rabbit, heads up the culinary program, crafting fresh, summery bites using ingredients from the estate gardens. Wines can be paired with the likes of chilled roasted beet skewers, wild mushroom salad, customized cheese and charcuterie boards, and even flame-kissed Neapolitan pizzas (McAnnely learned the art of the perfect blistered pie at SF's Zero Zero).
The winery's estate has also been designed for wellness and recreation with onsite, socially distanced yoga classes taught by instructors from nearby Well Sonoma and, once COVID-restrictions ease up a bit, games of bocce in the garden. The property is also primed for strolling with a vibrant rose garden, kitchen herb garden, and two ponds where you may catch site of young swans, a family of ducks, a small flock of chickens, and maybe even a peacock.
It may be some time before the 40-acre property can realize its full vision as a collaborative, sustainable community open for hosting intimate gatherings, harvest dinners, charity fundraisers, and corporate retreats. Event spaces include the 10,000-square-foot wine barn and tasting room, which features its own boardroom, break-out rooms, and plenty of conversation nooks.
But for now, the Hansons are content to fly by the seat of their pants, hence the name of that gold-medal sparkling wine. They define a bricoleur as "one who starts building something with no clear plan, adding bits here and there, cobbling together a whole."
// Bricoleur Vineyards is currently open by reservation only for groups of up to six; 7394 Starr Rd. (Windsor), bricoleurvineyards.com.