Discriminating palates are quite welcome at Equality Vines, Guerneville's new tasting room inspired by the causes of justice and equality.
The Equality Vines story starts when the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case was wrapping up in the Supreme Court. As the named plaintiff in the case, which tested state same-sex marriage bans, Jim Obergefell enlisted a New York public relations firm to field the barrage of media attention and interview requests he was receiving.
"Our role was as gatekeeper," says Michael Volpatt, co-owner of Larkin/Volpatt Communications. "It was a fascinating time, and wonderful to work for such a historic figure." While vetting petitioners at said gate, Volpatt became interested in wine distributor Matt Grove's idea to create a sparkling wine that celebrated the court's 5–4 decision in favor of recognizing same-sex marriages.
Volpatt knew just the vintner to ask about blending a celebratory and inclusive sparkling: Joy Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards, whose signature Wedding Cuvée was joined by a Rainbow Cuvée in 2014. Debuting on the first anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2016, the 2008 Love Wins sparkling rosé ($35) is an appropriately exuberant, deep pink cuvée displaying toasty richness and red berry fruit.
To help launch the new tasting room, which opened last month in a cornerstone location in Guerneville (the former Mercantile five-and-dime—alas, it is gone), Jim Obergefell himself mans the bar throughout November, pouring the new Love Wins blanc de blancs ($40), the Decision Pinot Noir ($60) and presumably signing copies of the book, Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality, also for sale at the tasting room. Each bottle sold contributes a donation to nonprofit organizations including Face to Face of Sonoma County.
"I think Jim is an awesome spokesperson for us because his legacy will always live on," says Volpatt. "He is representative of how far the LGBT people have come." But there's still a ways to go for many causes, which is why the brand introduced its next "pillar of equality" this year with the Suffrage Series dedicated to women's equality.
On Nov. 18, League of Women Voters president Chris Carson joins Obergefell to pour wines like the 2016 19th Amendment Sauvignon Blanc ($28), a juicy, green-fruited and grassy "New Zealand–style" savvy made by Alison Green-Doran.
Bring any of these wines to your next celebration or Thanksgiving dinner—you can't help but win.
Equality Vines, 16215 Main St., Guerneville. Open daily except Tuesdays, 11am–5pm; Fri–Sat 11am–8pm. Tasting fee, $15. Free tastings Friday, 6–8pm, Labor Day through March. 707.604.5795.