Gardens at Ferrari-Carano
A visit to the tasting room and gardens at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery Villa Fiore location in Dry Creek Valley, California
The Dry Creek Valley location of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery made it onto my list of wineries to visit while staying in Healdsburg in California’s Sonoma County because I’d read about and seen photos of its gardens. I expected to find beautiful gardens but was somewhat surprised by the palatial feel of the entire property. The winery and tasting room were reminiscent on an Italian manor estate.
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery was founded in 1981. It has grown from a 30-acre plot of grapes purchased in 1979 to 19 vineyards in six different appellations totalling over 1,500 acres. There are two winery locations. Red wines are made in the Alexander Valley at a winery located at an elevation of 1,200 feet on RockRise Mountain near Geyserville. Grapes are harvested at night by hand. The gravity-flow delivery system was specially designed to handle the grapes as gently as possible. The Dry Creek Valley location is where white wines are made. The white wine grapes are also harvested at night, when cooler temperatures give crisp and intense fruit flavours.
We stopped first at the inviting tasting room and shop. The display of kitchen items, tableware, wine accessories and gift items was fun to browse through. At the back of the shop was the mahogany and black granite tasting bar. A sampling of five wines cost $10. There were more than double that many to choose from. I liked the Pinot and the Cabernet Sauvignon. And I bought a bottle of Fumé Blanc.
As pleasant as the tasting room, shop and wines were, the gardens were what had drawn me to the winery and I was anxious to explore them. There are five acres of garden surrounding Villa Fiore. They began in 1987 as a labour of love for Rhonda Carano. It took her 16 months to plan and complete the initial planting.
The gardens directly around the Villa Fiore Wine Hospitality Center are Italian/French parterre in style with classic geometric shapes. The Enclosed Garden at the front of the winery has a more relaxed, park-like feel with an emphasis on colour and texture.
The garden contains a few Portuguese cork oak trees. Cork trees must be 40-50 years old before the first cork can be harvested. The cork bark is harvested in June, July and August with hatchets, then punched into cylindrical form, sterilized and stamped to create traditional cork stoppers for wine bottles. The tree grows new bark which can harvested every nine years. Portugal is the largest producer of cork, followed by Algeria and Spain.
Sculptures can be found throughout the gardens. The 1,300 pound bronze sculpture of a wild boar was done by William Howd and commissioned by Rhonda Carano as a birthday present for her husband Don in 2001. When they first came to Sonoma County, a wild boar ravaged Rhonda’s garden. Despite attempts to capture the boar, he still haunts the grounds. According to legend, rubbing the wild boar’s nose brings good luck.
The gardens and winery were well worth our time. Have you visited Ferrari-Carano? Are there other winery gardens you’d recommend?
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Even looking at these gardens in pictures brought me a feeling of restfulness and peace! Gardens do that to me:)
Jacquie, maybe that’s why I enjoy visiting gardens so much – the feeling of restfulness and peace.
How gorgeous! Imagine the upkeep of those gardens.
Deb, there must be a lot of work involved in maintaining the gardens.I’m glad someone does it so we can enjoy the results.
Such a shame we couldn’t include the Sonoma and Napa wine area in our recent SF visit, but as so many other places on the itinerary of the road trip and time and budgetary reasons, grrrr, had to skip that one! Reason to return, right?!
Ingrid, there is so much to see and do in California, one needs to keep returning.
I haven’t heard of this vineyard yet but it makes me miss wine tasting in beautiful vineyard like this! I haven’t really found any yet in Germany. There are tons of vineyards here, don’t get me wrong, but not quite like how we do it in California where they’re all closely connected and you can vineyard hop from one to the next! #TheWeeklyPostcard
Winery visiting in California truly is delightful. I would find it interesting, though, to see vineyards in Germany.
How lovely is this?! Looking at the pictures only one could think this was Europe. I’ll definitely put this on my wine tasting list.
Elaine, it will be a nice addition to your wine tasting list.
Donna isn’t it lovely to find a little piece of Italy in a surprise location? Who would believe this was California if you had not mentioned it. Lovely gardens and a perfect setting for a wine tasting.
I hadn’t expected the Italian feel to be so strong, It was lovely.
These gardens are wonderful! The oak tree bark was incredible to see up-close. I can see why it would be a popular wine-tasting location, it has a perfect mix of serenity and natural beauty.
Brooke, I was fascinated with cork oak bark. It was easy to imagine it as a wine bottle cork stopper.
Beautiful vineyards. It’s hard to believe this is in California, at first I thought it was in Italy. I’m sorry I missed this one when we visited Sonoma County.
Anda, I’ve not been to Italy but a number of people have commented that this vineyard looks like it could be there. There are so many great wineries to see in Sonoma County.
Wonderful post, Donna. I’ve not been to the Ferrari-Carano Winerty and Gardens, but I’d love to go as it looks amazing. I also didn’t know that grapes were harvested at night! Thx for the great info.
I’ve been to napa and the Sonoma Valley and really enjoyed what I saw, but I know I’ve got much more to see the next time I visit. Cheers!
Doreen, I don’t know if all wineries harvest grapes at night, but it was interesting to learn that some do.
Hi Donna, those gardens are beautuful. They look so peaceful. Glad you enjoyed it and your entire trip to California
Susan, the gardens were peaceful. It would have been nice to have more time to linger. I enjoyed my entire trip to California, even though it was too short to see even half of what I’d have liked to.