Small, But Mighty
It’s rare nowadays to see a winery owner on property daily, not to mention winery co-owners, each welcoming visitors to the tasting room and keeping the operations (and the wine!) flowing smoothly. Such is the practice since the inception of Armida Winery for Steve and Bruce Cousins. For these two brothers – who realized their dream over twenty years ago of starting a winery partnering only with the finest family-run vineyards and focus on small-lot winemaking – it’s all about spending their days overlooking the picturesque Russian River Valley, mingling with their guests. In fact, it’s fair to say the entire team at Armida Winery is a living testament to the brothers’ unique and somewhat unorthodox approach to premium wine making – a small, but mighty team who’s serious about making world-class wine … but has a lot of fun while doing so. Steve handles the marketing and sales functions while Bruce manages the operational side of things. The third star of this 18,000-case, award-winning winery is Winemaker Brandon Lapides, and some would dare say, Zinfandel Master Extraordinaire. His deep experience and dedication to his craft, produce an impressive number of complex and elegant wines from some of Sonoma County’s most sought-after vineyards, such as Maple Vineyard/Tina’s Block, Durell, Stuhlmuller, Parmelee-Hill, Gold Mine Ranch, Castelli-Knight Ranch and Gap’s Crown.
Exploring The World of Single Vineyard Wines
Only a handful of wineries have access to such an array of prestigious vineyards, so you know that any of the vineyard-designated wines from Armida is sure to delight and excite. Given their numerous blended, reserve and limited-release wines, both red and white, there’s something for everyone and every palate. A must-taste is their Zinfandel Flight. This tour de force tasting showcases the best-of-the-best single-vineyard Zinfandels and demonstrates Brandon’s know-how, gently guiding fermentation and barrel aging, letting the splendor of each vineyard shine through. You’ll taste the likes of Il Campo Vineyard, the 7.5-acre estate vineyard planted to a field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignan with rootstock from the famed Tom and Tina Maple estate, or Italo’s Vineyard from Alexander Valley planted by Ed Sbragia’s grandfather back in the 1930s which hosts dry-farmed Zinfandel and Petite Sirah today. You’ll also savor wine from Gold Mine Ranch – a small, three-acre parcel in Dry Creek Valley planted before World War 1 with two now-defunct gold mine shafts on the land, and last but not least, a taste of the critically acclaimed “Tina’s Block” Zinfandel from Maple Vineyard – a legendary vineyard boasting the finest Zinfandel fruit one can find. This list is only a partial tally of the wines you’ll taste; each handcrafted with care with the clear goal of preserving and showcasing the unique terrior of each iconic vineyard. It’s no surprise then the winery was voted (again) the Best Zinfandel Producer in 2016 by NorthBay biz readers and has taken home a plethora of other awards and gold medals over the years. Their most well-known and now-cult wine is Poizin … the wine to die for! ™, which is not only a clever play on words but also a stellar drinking Zinfandel which sells out each release. Their Reserve bottling with its hand-etched imagery even has a blood red wax seal and comes with its own coffin! And, for those who might occasionally overindulge in Poizin, not to worry, there’s “Antidote”, a dry, white blend designed to refresh the palate after a night of “Zin-ing”. For more information on any of the wines or vineyards, stop by their tasting room in Healdsburg or Capitola (coast of Monterey Bay) or visit their website www.armida.com.