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Swirl n' Spit
Tasting Room of the Week

Hop Kiln Winery

By Heather Irwin

Lowdown: It's about this time each spring that I wind my way back to Hop Kiln to get a bottle of Thousand Flowers. Green is just giving way to golden grasses, the flowers are reaching their peak of perfection and it isn't yet sultry enough in Dry Creek that having the top down runs you the risk of heat stroke. Hop Kiln, located at a crook in the road just yonder of a few cows and chickens, is just the spot to lay out a blanket and ponder the meaning of . . . something . . . while escaping the drudgery of your everyday life and toasting to the future.

Mouth value: Every year, Hop Kiln manages to sell out of one of its most popular wines, Thousand Flowers ($12.50). A mixture of Gerwertztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, it's the essence of summer in a bottle. Flowery and fruity without collapsing into tawdry sweetness, it's a peach of a wine. On the flip side, the newly released Big Red ($13.50) marries Zin, Cab and Syrah in big, delicious ways. Don't miss the '02 Zinfandel Primitivo Vineyards ($20). With a bucking-good smack of pepper and berry, you'd be dumber than a box of hammers not to grab at least a couple of bottles before they disappear.

Don't miss: This former brewery has some of the best grounds around, including a small garden, pond and plenty of critters for the young-uns to chase around. With plenty of snacks and goodies to sample along the way--as well as hot bread for your picnic--all you need is wine, which comes prechilled for the asking.

Spot: Hop Kiln Winery, 6050 West Side Road, Healdsburg. Open daily, 10am to 5pm. Regular tastings are free. 707.433.6491.

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From the May 4-10, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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