A visit to Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-5-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-12-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-10-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-9-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-4-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-13-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-11-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-8-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-7-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-6-copy

Michel-Schlumberger-WineryCritic-1-copy

Every time I visit Michel-Schlumberger I get a warm welcome and have a great time.  This has turned into one of my favorite winery experiences in Dry Creek Valley.  What I like about it is there is no tasting counter and guests can sit on the comfy leather chairs inside, or outside on the patio. Its distinctive Spanish Mission style architecture with white stucco, terracotta roof, and bell tower is impressive.  I also love the atmosphere in the courtyard with the sounds of the fountain.

Inside, the setting is relaxing and is the perfect place to relax with friends, either in winter as I did in front of a roaring fire, or in warmer months on the patio.  Just 10 minutes drive from the Healdsburg Plaza, it is an ideal place to come if you are in the area, and if you plan ahead, is an great place for a bite to eat!

From the moment I met Frank, the winery’s tasting room manager, I knew I was in good hands.  Frank chatted away about the winery, the wines and the area, giving me tidbits of information that you won’t hear at any other winery.  I could see why he says people that visit soon come back and often become friends.

On this day I has here to try out the 5-course Food & Wine Pairing.  There are many pairing experiences you can do at wineries now, but I think this really is one of the best in this area.  For $45 you’ll get a delicious array of generous bites, taste four wines and a sherry.

Let me first talk about the wines.  I’m a big fan of French-style wines, and when I first discovered Michel-Schlumberger I was so excited.  The wines really are well-balanced and food-friendly.  No fruit bombs here!  They produce a wide variety of wines (with 15 varietals grown on the property) including Pinot Noir, (They are the only winery that produces Pinot Noir in Dry Creek Valley), Pinot Blanc, Viognier to the Cab Syrah blend (Faux Pas) are excellent. You can’t go wrong with any of the wines.

What is special about their food and wine pairing is the chef will come to each table and talk about the local products and the pairings. Michael Pryor is the Executive Chef at the winery and comes by way of Wine Spectator’s Greystone Restaurant at the CIA in Napa Valley, and the CIA in Hyde Park, NY, where he studied.

Chef Pryor works with local growers and small purveyors in Sonoma County & Napa Valley to seek out seasonal products from local farmers. For today’s sliders he used a local beef called “J Brand” that is grass-fed and dry-aged.

On today’s menu:

  • Dungeness crab cake, paired with Le Bise Pinot Blanc (My favorite pairing!)
  • Roasted butternut squash bruschetta, paired with La Baume Chardonnay (Not a fan of the bruschetta, but the Chardonnay was excellent)
  • Wild and tame mushroom soup, paired with Pinot Noir (Delicious)
  • J Brand Dry Aged Beef Slider, paired with Faux Pas (a Cab/Syrah blend) (Loved this pairing!)
  • Crystalized ginger and molasses cookies, paired with a cream Sherry (Very nice)

Chef came out twice during my tasting and Frank stopped several times to check in.  This is a hands-on team that understands what people want when visiting.  They really know about the area, and a lot of what goes on beyond the winery.

The five bites are presented on two plates, which is good to be able to try many things at once, although sometimes I feel that the dish can stand out better, and you can focus in more on the pairing, when presented on its own.  Either way, the service, attention to detail and atmosphere was perfect.  For me, it was enough for lunch, although the experience is designed as small bites.   Either way, you won’t go hungry as they also have charcuterie and cheese plates available to order for an additional cost.

This is a great place to enjoy a relaxing lunch with your significant other (I heard Frank tell stories of many people getting engaged during these pairings), and also bring family or friends for a laid back, entertaining experience.

Expert tips:

  • For a special occasion, or if you are going to be in the area during a lunch time call ahead and make a reservation for the pairing.  It is well worth doing no matter what the weather, and probably the best food and wine experience at a winery in the Healdsburg area.
  • Check their website for events.  They do regular food-focused events and this is another great way to schedule your visit and get the most out of your trip to Dry Creek.

WineryCritic Ratings

9/10 Overall visitor experience

10/10 Knowledge of guide

9/10 Location

10/10 Architecture and design, landscaping

8/10 Other experiences:  Classic & reserve tastings, cheese & charcuterie plate

10/10 Friendliness of staff

9/10 Signage & ease of access

9/10 Quality of the wines poured

Appointment required: Recommended

Address:  4155 Wine Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448

www.michelschlumberger.com

Tasting fees & experiences: 

Open daily 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

  • $10 per person – Classic tasting
  • $20 per person – Reserve tasting
  • $30 per person – Vineyard Tour & Tasting
  • $25 per person – Cheese & Charcuterie plate
  • $45 per person – 5-Course Food & Wine pairing

Good for:  Couples, small groups, fans of French-style wines, weddings, engagements

Wines produced:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc, Syrah, Rose

What’s nearby:  Dry Creek Grocery, Dry Creek Vineyard, Sbragia Family Estate

District/Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Contact for appointments:  (707) 433-7427

Date of visit: December 13, 2013

Email: mindy@winerycritic.com