Lake Sonoma Winery Malbec Lazy Dog Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 2019

Medium purple color; licorice, violets, rosemary, mocha on the nose; dark plum, blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, caramel, apricot on the palate.

Lake Sonoma Winery Malbec Lazy Dog Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 2019

Dry; ripe, soft, integrated tannins; medium body. Soft acidity. Some oak—previous vintage aged 16 months in 34% new French and 66% neutral. No figures on website for 2019, but this is very likely in same ballpark. Nice complexity and extended finish for a malbec. 14.5% ABV

Lake Sonoma Winery is a brand of the Stewart Family, a pioneering Canadian winemaking family that first planted vines at their Okanagan Valley (Canadian Pacific northwest) estate in 1961. Other brands include Quails’ Gate (Okanagan), Valley of the Moon (Sonoma), and Plume (Sonoma). Prior to that, the winery was owned by F. Korbel & Brothers in an attempt to branch into premium still wines; in 2012 Korbel re-focused on their sparkling portfolio and sold to the Stewarts.

Jaime “JJ” Dowell is the winemaker. She notes that Sonoma is still “farm-driven” and seeks to allow the soil and the grapes to take center stage, not the winemaker. That is how excellent wine is made. She particularly makes a point of careful blending of wines from different blocks—three different ones in this case.

Lake Sonoma Winery winemaker JJ Dowell

Dowell earned her degree in viticulture and enology from UC-Davis and did internships in Napa until she took a life detour to manage and operate her family’s art gallery in East Bay. After a decade, she returned to wine part-time as the winemaker for Crooked Vine & Stony Ridge Winery. After three years of splitting time between the art gallery and the winery, she soul-searched, sold the gallery, and focused full-time on wine.

JJ spent time in New Zealand making high-end pinot noir. She then joined Bonny Doon Vineyards, followed by Alpha Omega Winery, then Round Pond Estate. In 2019, the year of this vintage, she became a consulting winemaker for West Coast Wine Partners, with includes making wine for Lake Sonoma Winery and Valley of the Moon Winery.

Lake Sonoma Winery

Lake Sonoma Winery sources its grapes from Sonoma winegrowers. The website notes: “exclusively from esteemed vineyards of Sonoma County, a wine-growing region home to some of the most diverse terroirs and micro-climates in the world. This diversity is best expressed through Sonoma’s sub-appellations, many of which are renowned for specific varietals that thrive in each.”

Lake Sonoma Winery tasting room entrance
Lake Sonoma Winery tasting area

Lake Sonoma is the winery. Lazy Dog Vineyard supplied the grapes. Lazy Dog Vineyard consists of five acres of cabernet sauvignon and 2.5 acres of malbec. Planted in 2002, the vineyard was farmed organically, now is farmed sustainably. Drip irrigation. Steve Waymire and Kate Farrell own and manage the vineyard.

Lake Sonoma Winery Malbec Lazy Dog Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 2019 is spot-on for a California malbec. Presents with classic malbec qualities in fruit, tannins, and overall profile. Several reviewers rate it highly in it price range—and the wine can be found at a discount if you look. Pair with lamb; beef dishes; veal; barbecue beef and chicken. Cheese—gouda, cheddar, pecorino-style sheep’s and goat’s cheese; excellent with melted blue cheese. $40-45

Lake Sonoma Winery website

Lake Sonoma Winery tasting room