Wine

Sonoma Gatekeepers

A winery that takes food and hospitality seriously

The new Ram's Gate Winery aims to make great Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and other wines under winemaker Jeff Gaffner. But its way of welcoming guests may be even more ambitious.

Hospitality Manager Marc Hartenfels was hired from Benu to welcome guests to the scenic grounds, a 127-acre property about 45 minutes north of San Francisco, at the southern end of the Carneros AVA (Carneros means "rams" in Spanish).

Ram's Gate does not have a formal restaurant, but it has Jason Rose, late of Locanda, who has designed a menu of smart, affordable small plates, like a robust Niçoise salad with tonnato ($9) paired with barely oaked 2009 Red Label Chardonnay Sonoma, or a crisp piece of local sea bass on a bed of roasted peppers ($11), created for the Red Label Pinot Noir.

Served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the food can be enjoyed almost anywhere on the property, from the vast tasting hall to the clubby wine library or fireplace-equipped courtyards. Smaller dining rooms can also be reserved for private wine dinners.

There are also picnic baskets available for preorder ($56 for two people, not including wine), packed with rabbit rillettes, cold fried Petaluma chicken and brûléed figs.

Ram's Gate Winery & Estate Vineyards, 28700 Arnold Dr., Sonoma; 707-721-8700 or ramsgatewinery.com

Ram's Gate Winery 28700 Arnold Drive Sonoma CA 95476 707-721-8700

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