Winery Spotlight: Lynmar Estate
Slightly off the beaten path in Sonoma, California you’ll see a winery sign. If you follow that sign and turn off the road, down the driveway and through a wrought iron gate, you’ll discover a slice of wine heaven. One hundred acre Lynmar Estate stretches over rolling hills covered in grapevines and down to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a haven for the many birds and animals attracted to the watering hole. Proprietors Lynn and Anisya Fritz built a spacious tasting room and outdoor patio overlooking a beautiful garden and row upon row of grapes. Perfect for spending a tranquil afternoon, it is an oasis to delight all the senses.
As we entered the tasting room, we were greeted by a friendly staff standing near large windows that look out over a nicely manicured garden filled with organic herbs, flowers and vegetables. Beyond that were trellised vines marching up the hill in picture-perfect rows toward the arch-topped, gravity-flow winery. A surprisingly comfortable chair covered in Lynmar Estate corks offered a great photo opportunity.
The doors to the patio open wide, bringing the outdoors inside on pleasant days. Giant umbrellas cantilever out from a single main pole, shading the many patio tables and chairs. There are also designated seating areas, both indoors and out, exclusively for wine club members. The tasting bar, décor and especially the hospitality of the employees made us feel right at home.
In the past, there were times when the tasting room might get so busy staff found it challenging to provide a relaxing experience in which to fully share the Lynmar story with their tasters. Now, in order to ensure the highest level of customer service, visitors need to make an appointment rather than just dropping by winery. Knowing their daily head count in advance allows them to properly staff and guarantee each and every wine lover that walks through their door has a memorable visit.
If you’re lucky enough to be invited up the hill to the crush pad and winery, you’ll see the views extend far beyond the Quail Hill Vineyard, over the Laguna de Santa Rosa and to the range of mountains that include extinct volcano Mt. Saint Helena.
As good stewards to the land and surrounding wildlife, Lynmar Estate is dedicated to sustainable farming practices. Growing organic fruits and vegetables for the winery kitchen and encouraging natural predators by installing steel owl boxes throughout the vineyard are just a couple examples of how they’re walking the talk.
Lynn and Anisya are also big supporters of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, working to preserve the natural watershed and the many animals and birds that rely on it for survival. And they urge their many visitors and wine club members to do the same.
Something else that sets the winery apart is the fact that most of the vineyard crew have worked at Lynmar Estate for over a decade and are intimately familiar with every vine. They individually prune and nurture plants at both estate vineyard sites, Quail Hill and neighboring Susanna’s Vineyard, a mere mile and a half away. Between the two dry-farmed vineyards, there are a total of 89,292 grapevines, including some of the oldest plantings in the Russian River Valley. With the goal of coaxing the best fruit from each grapevine each year, the crew’s hard work is something you can undeniably taste in the bottled wines.
Nineteen unique clones of Chardonnay and Pinot noir are planted in the vineyards, including heritage clones Old Wente, Swan and Calera. Clones are slight mutations in grape varietals that have occurred naturally over time, forming heartier vines, bigger berries, or even a specific flavor or aroma in the finished wine. And these modified plants have been propagated and labeled as a particular clone of the parent grape. Similar to apples, of which there are many types including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Gala, different grapevine clones are prized for their distinct attributes. In order to properly care for of all these clones, the two Lynmar vineyards are divided into a total of 53 separate mini-blocks, each with different needs and picking schedules. At any given time, there are 90 separate lots barrel-aging in the wine caves below the Lynmar winery.
In fact, many blocks of the vineyard are trellised differently, depending on the age and clone of the grapes planted there. The most unique was the Lyre trellis, shaped like a giant Y. This trellis allows each grapevine to grow fruit on a sunny as well as shady side. Grapes on one side of the Y ripen faster and are picked several days before those on the other side.
Fermented and barreled separately, Head Winemaker Shane Finley and Associate Winemaker Pete Soergel have countless options from which to choose as they blend the individual barrels into finished wines. We got the opportunity to taste barrel samples from each side of the row and the differences were pronounced.
Another important aspect in the Lynmar Estate winemaking process is the tight grain French oak barrels they order from the Tronçais and Alliers forests. Almost all the wines made at the winery are barrel-aged at least 10 months, many in new oak barrels. New oak tends to impart more wood influence, yet all the wines we tried were very balanced and didn’t have us picking splinters out of our mouths, as one might expect with an aggressive barrel regime.
For example, the 2013 Chardonnay from Susanne’s Vineyard was aged in 77% new oak. This wine should be a “buttery” California Chardonnay but instead delighted our palates with its finesse, acidity and velvety texture.
Back down the hill, nestled within the vines is a working barn– complete with an oversized chicken coop, home to giant rooster Pinot de Gallo and his haram of pluncky hens. Lynmar’s friendly vineyard cat, Huntress also lives there, often found stalking small rodents from beneath the antique vineyard truck parked out front. Along one wall inside the barn is a shelf lined with small wooden casks filled with aging balsamic vinegar made with Chardonnay grape must from the vineyard. Inky black in color, its sweet and savory goodness can be found in many dishes made in the winery kitchen.
Just a stone’s throw farther up the driveway is the Bliss House, a guest rental available to Lynmar Estate wine club members. It’s a wonderful 3 bedroom, 3 ½ bath house with all the amenities one might need or want in a vacation home. Named after the adjacent Bliss block, abundant natural light pours in through the many windows with views of the vineyard out each one. Overlooking the Laguna de Santa Rosa, it’s truly a special place where you can feel your stress disappear as you sit on the deck watching the soaring birds while the wind whistles through the redwood trees behind you. Understated, yet elegant, the Bliss House is a comfortable space for couples, friends or family just minutes from the heart of Sebastopol.
I don’t think we’ve ever shared a company’s mission statement on Winerabble before but we think that the folks at Lynmar Estate Winery have the right attitude!
Lynmar Estate Winery mission statement:
Our vision is two-fold: (1) to meticulously caretake all the elements of the Estate, and continue to perfect and enhance the nuances of our winemaking, (2) to share it with people from all over the world who come here to have the experience of wine, food and place with a communion of friends, families, and colleagues
Please stay tuned for an article on Lynmar Estate’s customer service as well as wine tasting notes on several of their wines.
To visit Lynmar Estate, please make an appointment online:
The winery is located at:
3909 Frei Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
To order Lynmar Estate wines, please visit their website:
To read more about the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, follow this link