The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2016

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52  /  the tasting panel  / august 2016 SONOMA Riding the Arc of History REVAMPED VALLEY OF THE MOON PAYS HOMAGE TO PREVIOUS BRAND STEWARDS by Jonathan Cristaldi / photos by Alexander Rubin Kat Doescher is Head Winemaker for Valley of the Moon. The first vines on the Madrone Estate were planted in the mid-1860s. F or the last decade, Kat Doescher has touted wine as an experience—this one is for poolside quaffing, another is for kayaking, while some inspire her bocce skills—which above all, is always paired with a food. Doescher, who graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in chemistry, was named Head Winemaker in 2016 for Valley of the Moon, which is produced at the Madrone Estate Winery production facility in Glen Ellen, California, a short drive from downtown Sonoma. The Madrone Estate Winery tasting room—owned by the Stewart family, who have been producing luxury wines for three generations—has been fully renovated, made to feel like the interior of a palatial wine country estate. A collection of plush leather sofas and chairs, oak-slab tables, four-tops and impeccable lighting with a long tasting bar makes for a warm and inviting atmosphere where walk-ins are encouraged. Valley of the Moon's packaging also received a facelift: lighter, brighter, textured labels, showcasing an artist's render- ing of the estate, which confers a nod to the winery's rich historical past and quite exceptional owners. The first vines on Madrone Estate were planted in the mid- 1860s by George W. Whitman, who later donated large tracts of land to the Santa Rosa Railroad Company in exchange for put- ting his name on a railway car (those were the days!). The first stone wine cellar was built in 1887 by then-owner Eli Sheppard; its original stone wall is now exposed behind the tasting bar. It wasn't until Senator George Hearst took over as proprietor, that he and his son, William Randolph Hearst, developed Madrone Estate into a wine with serious reputation. After the Hearsts sold it and Prohibition reared its head, the estate was purchased in 1941 by Italian sausage makers Enrico Parducci

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