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Eyrie Glow

A walk in the clouds at Gustafson Family Vineyards

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I‌ picked a grand old day to enjoy the view at Gustafson. As soon as we park the car in an empty lot outside the winery, a tail-wagging emissary trots out in a steady rain to greet us. The dog views us, we view the dog. That's a wrap, as far as the views go today.

While Gustafson also operates a perfectly accessible tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, I was keen to check out the touted view from the winery's ridge-top estate, located at an elevation of some 1,800 feet above Dry Creek Valley. Today turned out a bit gray, however, with a low cloud deck and intermittent rain. I'd hoped for a reprieve from the rain clouds until ascending seven miles up Skaggs Springs Road and realizing: this is the clouds.

But it's no bust. Two friendly hosts are here to fill us in on everything we can't see through the day's thick mist, and we are interrupted by nothing other than Reyla the dog's enthusiasm over a piece of grapevine wood, and no tasting fee is mentioned as we enjoy a slate of all estate-grown wines.

The fellow bankrolling the operation is one Dan Gustafson, who's apparently done well enough with some construction and landscaping gigs back in Minnesota. He developed an affinity for the Sea Ranch community back in the 1970s, and found this parcel, located on a long and winding road that leads there, around the turn of this century.

"We've got the Minnesota prices here," says assistant winemaker and all-around olive harvester, dog wrangler and erosion-control specialist Steve Spinella, of the reasonably priced offerings.

The 2017 Rosé of Syrah ($24) is a basket-pressed beauty brimming with pink flowers and yeasty, red candy fruit. The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc ($26) is a lush and creamy palate teaser with green pear and melon fruit. The intriguing value is the 2017 Riesling ($20), a bright, apple- and honeysuckle-scented sipper that finishes up dry and crisp. "If you told me when I walked in here I was walking out with a Riesling, I would have said you're insane," Spinella recounts an anecdotal yet typical customer's confession upon purchasing the Riesling. "But here I am!"

As for the Petite Sirah ($30), it got this rave review from a white wine drinker: "Now this is a red I can drink!" Head in the clouds or nose in the glass, the view from this winery is just fine.

Gustafson Family Vineyards, 9100 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville. Open Saturday–Sunday, 10am–4pm; by appointment Friday and Monday. Tasting room, 34 North St., Healdsburg. Thursday–Monday, 11am-6pm. 707.433.2371.

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