Bricoleur, appropriately suggested by Sarah, is a French word that refers to “one who starts building something with no clear plan, adding bits here and there, cobbling together a whole while flying by the seat of their pants.”
The word, suggested by Sarah Hanson Citron, the daughter of the co-founders of Bricoleur Vineyards, Mark and Elizabeth Hanson sums up how their vision has evolved.
They are either following an aggressive business plan to turn their 40-acre estate into a hospitality retreat or willingly flying by the seat of their pants.
Before walking through the vineyards, we were shown numerous patio spaces with vine-covered trellises, a producing grove of olive trees and a ten-thousand square foot refurbished tasting barn with full kitchen and adjacent deck overlooking a large pond. There is a rose, flower and miniature fruit tree garden all adjacent to bocce ball courts and yet another picnic space surrounded by Chinese Pistache trees, readying their Fall colors. While showing us the large vegetable garden behind the vineyards, Mark became animated and quickly began picking fresh strawberries and Sungold tomatoes for us to taste.
Available lodging ranges from an apartment above an old milking barn, a four bedroom getaway Vineyard House to a nine thousand square foot Estate villa that sleeps 10 and includes a sauna, steam room and eight-seat movie theater.
The property is impressive and the opportunities are as bountiful as the gardens. However, the sustainability of the effort will hinge on the success of their core mission: to make exceptional wine. They are well on their way.
With the purchase of the Russian River Valley estate, the Hansons inherited 21 acres of good pinot noir and chardonnay stock and their forty-acre Kick Vineyard in the Fountaingrove AVA of northeastern Santa Rosa is the source of sauvignon blanc, viognier and a rose’ of grenache aptly called, “Flying By The Seat Of Our Pants.”
In 2017, soon after establishing Bricoleur Vineyards, the Hansons added renowned winemaker Cary Gott and his 40 years of experience to the team. Gott is known for creating balanced, well-structured wines that often express unique character in traditional varietals.
We sat down with Mark, Sarah and Hospitality Director Chris Richard and began by tasting two wines from their Fountaingrove vineyard: the 2018 Bricoleur Kick Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($25) and the whole-cluster pressed 2018 Bricoleur Kick Vineyard Viognier ($30). Viognier has a tendency to all taste the same, but the orange blossom and floral hints on the nose, the tropical fruit flavors and lingering finish made this one distinct.
A comparison of two very different Russian River Valley chardonnay releases followed, beginning with the 2017 Bricoleur Unoaked Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($30) that still had a creamy texture due to sur lie aging and the addition of five percent viognier. At the opposite spectrum, the Bricoleur Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($35), aged in thirty-five percent new French oak with full malolactic fermentation has exceptional texture, but is balanced with complex flavors of butterscotch and baked stone fruits.
A blend of four clones from the estate vineyard, the 2017 Bricoleur Pinot Noir Russian River Valley ($45) is another high quality release from the appellation, fully aromatic with hints of white pepper, spice and cola that sells for half the price of similar wines.
We concluded with the 2017 Bricoleur Old Vine Zinfandel ($40) from an Alexander Valley vineyard that was lush and expressive without being an overpowering “fruit bomb.”
Bricoleur strives to be a lifestyle brand with a goal of ninety percent direct to consumer sales. After soft openings and a few events in the Fall, they promise a full range of activities in 2020 like yoga paired with wine tasting. Exercise, fresh organic food and good wine are all good reasons to pursue Bricoleur.
New in St. Helena
I was pleased to hear that Gary’s Wine & Marketplace will be filling the St. Helena Highway building and the void left after the departure of Dean & DeLuca. Aside from fine wines and craft beers, Gary’s will also offer cheeses, sandwiches and breakfasts.
For years we have enjoyed the Farmstead Restaurant and their Long Meadow Ranch brand including state-grown wine and grass-fed meats. On Friday, September 27, the final Live Fire Guest Chef Series wine pairing dinner will take place on-site featuring Chef Howard Hanna of the Rieger Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, and guest Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. The reception begins at 6:30 PM and tickets are $170 per person through longmeadowranch.com.
Lyle W. Norton is a wine enthusiast and blogger in Santa Rosa who has written a wine column for 15 years. Visit his blog at www.lifebylyle.com or email him at email@example.com. He is a guest columnist.