Meet Sonoma wine tasting expert Lee Sweeney
One of the stops on our Sonoma Valley wine tour is the Larson Family Winery, where Lee Sweeney is the wine club and tasting room manager. She took a few minutes to chat with us about what makes a visit to Larson memorable.
So Lee, how long have you been hosting Green Dream tour groups?
Four years now, on weekdays and weekends starting every May. Elie brings lunch and the group picnics outside the tasting room. We have a bocce court, horseshoes and, of course, wine. His groups are lively and fun, with a mix of people, often from Europe and Australia.
What’s your advice for wine tasting newbies?
At Larson, we’re relaxed and laid back, so don’t be intimidated by the wine. We’re not snobbish. If you don’t like a certain wine, you don’t have to drink it. We encourage visitors to look at the tasting notes and see if they taste what we’re describing. It may not taste like that to them, but that’s OK.
What wines do the groups taste?
We have a set list of five wines – a couple chilled and three reds. The Pinot Grigio is very popular in the summer and the guests have been liking our Pinot Noir and Three Lab Cab.
What makes a tour of your winery different?
There’s a lot of history here. The property has been in the family since 1899, and from 1929 to the early 1950s it was the site of the Sonoma Rodeo. You can see some of the memorabilia around the winery. Now we have a 70-acre vineyard and produce 4,000 cases under the Larson label. Because of our small production, you won’t find these wines in the grocery store.
What’s your favorite wine?
My taste changes with the weather. Right now I’m enjoying our 2010 Sparkling Rosé, which won a Silver Medal at the 2013 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.