In pursuit of a new standard of elegance while honoring vintage, vineyard and people
Founded in 2011, Ram’s Gate is entering a new era of winemaking excellence, focused on creating wine with character and poise. The winery’s portfolio showcases wines that are fresh, compelling and uncompromising in quality, sourced from vineyards that encompass the spirit of Sonoma County. The winery’s connection to the land is reflected in the breathtaking tasting room that overlooks the estate vineyard: 28-acres of organically farmed vines nestled in the southern tip of the Carneros AVA. Rooted in exploration, the Ram’s Gate Winery team brings a new perspective on refined elegance through thoughtful farming, transparent winemaking, genuine hospitality and sublime culinary experiences.
VINEYARDS & SUSTAINABILITY
Located at the epicenter of three of Sonoma’s greatest AVAs, the Ram’s Gate estate vineyard borders the Sonoma Valley to the north, the Sonoma Coast to the west and Carneros to the east, and is the proverbial “Compass Rose” of Sonoma. The vineyard surrounds the tasting room where GM and Winemaker Joe Nielsen showcases the site’s unique qualities through his experimental farming and winemaking initiatives. Upon joining the team in 2018, Nielsen took a deep dive into the 28-acre estate vineyard though extensive soil studies and is committed to a sustainable future with organic certification in 2022.
The early morning Carneros fog rolls in off San Pablo Bay and the wind-rich location creates a signature impact on the estate. The vineyard is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Grenache. The Chardonnay vines were planted in 2010 and the Pinot Noir vines almost a decade earlier. While already California Certified Sustainable and Fish Friendly Farming-certified, we escalated the sustainable farming approach through soil diagrams and pressure bombs to study the vineyard’s water needs, subsequently reducing water use by 33%. Nielsen believes thoughtful land management will lead to better wines and a better place for guests to visit and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Grapes from Ram’s Gate Estate vineyard are used in the estate bottlings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Grenache/Syrah blend, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Sparkling Blanc de Noirs and Sparkling Brut Rosé.
In addition to the estate vineyard, the team at Ram’s Gate Winery is proud to have long-term vineyard partnerships with some of Northern California’s most cherished sites such as the famed Gap’s Crown Vineyard and Napa's Hyde Vineyard in addition to working with small, family owned gems throughout Sonoma County.
Winemaker Joe Nielsen starts the process of crafting each wine not in the cellar, but in the vineyard. He begins with digging soil pits and diagraming the soils of the site to understand the growing conditions of each vine. Through constant visits to each vineyard site, he and his crew track the physiological phases through the growing season to understand how the year’s harvest will be formed. They become intimately aware of the unique characteristics of each vineyard block. To detect subtle changes in flavor and sugar levels, Nielsen examines each vineyard row in early spring. As the grapes begin veraison, he tastes the fruit two to three times a week and is thoroughly alert to picking just as ripeness occurs and often picks earlier than neighbors in an effort to achieve better concentration at lower alcohol, while also maintaining maximum flavor and vibrant acidity.
The team approaches winemaking as a way to showcase the complete picture of what a given vineyard can accomplish. Fruit is harvested and handled with care and intention, from selection in the vineyard, to cluster and berry sorting. In the cellar, they isolate small sub-sections of each vineyard and nurture them individually to see how a specific site, often as isolated as a few rows of a vineyard, develops over time. The team strives to marry each vineyard’s personality with a select set of barrels including specific coopers, forests and toasts. Nielsen has increased cooperage variety in the cellar by over 120% since joining the team so that each bottling preserves the integrity of the site from which it is sourced.
He intends for the wines to capture the right balance of acid, tannin, richness and body, without pulling too much in any one direction. He has introduced a variety of practices in the cellar including whole cluster fermentation with the Pinot Noir and Syrah, native fermentation in the Estate series, and has developed new partnerships with small-production, family-owned coopers in France. He has added a new single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a single-vineyard Syrah and a Sonoma Coast Rosé to the portfolio. Additionally, he created the Ram’s Gate Cellar Note series, individual bottlings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache Syrah blend and Cabernet Sauvignon that offer an exploration of the best representation of the vintage for each variety, creating wines as a lens into the cellar while allowing the winemaker to experiment with new techniques and vineyard sources.
While Ram’s Gate Winery began with a focus on producing small-lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from respected vineyards in Sonoma, its portfolio has expanded to include other varieties which the team constructs with the same commitment to making the finest wines. Today, we produce four distinct series: the Sonoma Coast series ventures into the different regions of the AVA to create complexity and diversity, sourcing from acclaimed sub-AVAs such as Russian River, Petaluma, Carneros and the Sonoma Coast itself. This series consists of the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($46), Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($48) and Sonoma Coast Rosé ($38). The Estate Collection celebrates the Ram’s Gate Estate and the unique terroir of Carneros with the Pinot Blanc ($38), Sauvignon Blanc ($38), Chardonnay ($76), and Pinot Noir ($85). The Cellar Note series offers a lens into the cellar of the best representation of the vintage for each variety with a Cellar Note Pinot Noir ($58), Cellar Note Chardonnay ($56), Cellar Note Cabernet Sauvignon ($68) and Cellar Note Red Blend ($58). The Single-Vineyard series consists of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah sourced from some of the finest sites in Northern California and includes the El Diablo Vineyard (Russian River Valley) Chardonnay ($70), Flora Marie Vineyard (Russian River Valley) Chardonnay ($70), Hyde Vineyard (Napa Carneros) Chardonnay ($70), Bush Crispo Vineyard (Russian River Valley) Pinot Noir ($75), El Diablo Vineyard (Russian River Valley) Pinot Noir ($75), Gap’s Crown Vineyard (Sonoma Coast) Pinot Noir ($75) and Silver Eagle Vineyard (Russian River Valley) Pinot Noir ($80). The winery also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Berler Vineyard (Fountaingrove) Cabernet Sauvignon ($115) and two Syrahs - Hyde Vineyard (Napa Carneros) Syrah ($70) and Durell Vineyard (Sonoma Coast) Syrah ($70).
HOSPITALITY AND CULINARY EXPERIENCE
Located just off Highway 121, Ram’s Gate is the first winery on the way to Sonoma from San Francisco. Perched upon a hill at the southern tip of Carneros AVA with views of the surrounding hills and San Pablo Bay.
Crafting a holistic winery experience like no other is at the heart of a visit to Ram's Gate Winery. From our breathtaking tasting room overlooking our organically farmed vineyard enjoy a world-class tasting featuring our award-winning, elegant wines ($50 per person) and genuine hospitality. Building on the sublime culinary experiences we are known for, reserve your place at the table for our Seasonal Wine and Food Experience ($160 per person). When put together, these are the elements for a stunning winery experience.
The Ram’s Gate Winery tasting room is open Thursday through Monday to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., reservations are required.