Italy’s Gracious Hospitality Embodied
At VJB Vineyards & Cellars, a large piazza (courtyard) reminiscent of a quaint little village in southern Italy is surrounded on all sides by rustic brick and tile-roofed buildings boasting a micro-collection of locally owned eateries and shopping nooks. And, the best part is…no passport required to get there. The family-owned winery, deli and marketplace is located in the town of Kenwood, in Sonoma Valley, and is home to the winery’s tasting room whose collection of limited-release wines are only sold in the tasting room or through their wine club. Since opening the winery in its new location in 2012, it has quickly become a top destination for visitors both local and afar who are looking for the warm hospitality synonymous with the old-world traditions of Italy.
Originally from Bonito in the Campania region, winery owners Vittorio and Maria Belmonte, along with their son, Henry, oversee all aspects of the operations for the winery and are dedicated to showcasing more than 15 Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Nero d’Avola, Brunello and Primitivo as well as some lesser-seen grapes in California like Sagrantino, Aglianico, Fresia, Dolcetto and Negro Amaro. Vittorio manages the vineyards and winemaking, his wife, Maria, leads the culinary team as Executive Chef creating the menus for the deli and Henry manages all aspects of the winery’s public facing side. In his assumed role as winery ambassador, he welcomes guests to the property, conducts privates tastings and shares his family’s long-standing belief that great wine and delicious food should be experienced in the company of family and friends.
Wellington Cellars — A New Addition To The VJB Family
Having established themselves as a destination for Italian varietals in wine country, VJB has recently welcomed Wellington Cellars into the fold, a 2,000-case boutique producer of estate French varietals like Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Rhône-style blends and aromatic whites. Guests to Wellington’s tasting room in Glen Ellen will taste how leveraging terroir-driven vineyard practices and traditional winemaking techniques allows the best of each varietal’s characteristics to be extracted from each vineyard site. Soon the winery will be offering guests vineyard tours so they can experience first-hand the importance of site influences on the final blends. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. (no appointment required) and offers both Wellington Cellars and VJB Cellars wines to taste. They also accept group tastings by appointment. To reserve, email email@example.com or call (707) 934-8604.
“We’ve worked really hard here at VJB to create a place for the community to explore and enjoy Italian varietals so we’re very excited to continue this exploration of fine wines through Wellington Cellars’ Bordeaux and Rhône-style blends along with their Old Vine Zinfandels. Wellington has a long, rich history in this county. The fact that they specialize in French varietals and Old-Vine Zinfandel with vines dating as far back as 1882, makes this coming together of two wineries, both of whom are steeped in old-world traditions and are producing at the pinnacle of their regional focus, a natural fit. We’re so pleased to offer our guests what we consider some of the best representations of vineyard-driven reds like Cabernet, Merlot, Grenache and Syrah and aromatic Rhône-style whites like Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne” says Lindsay Evans McGorry, Vice President of VJB Cellars and Wellington Cellars.
The impressive marketplace, La Cucina, features a curated selection of imported Italian foods, cheeses, pantry items, sweets, espresso drinks and more. The on-site Tommy Bahama Boutique carrying fashions for both men and women and a wide collection of accessories. The Wine Truffle Shop specializing in handcrafted, small-batch chocolates made in-house using wines, couverture chocolate and local ingredients. Their house specialty is a truly authentic Italian gelato and sorbetto made from all-natural ingredients like Strauss Family organic cream. Check out the Kenwood Pasta Company where fresh pasta is made daily in traditional Italian shapes using only the finest semolina flours. It’s the perfect companion to the line of sauces, pestos and tapenades created by Maria Belmonte which are used in their deli menus. The pasta is sold bagged and ready to take home from their marketplace.
For more information on any of the VJB Cellars shops, tasting options or wine club memberships, visit their website vjbcellars.com