If you know of a young person of modest means who, after but one or two harvests, has stars in his eyes and dreams of starting his very own winery, the best advice is probably prudence: get a degree, pay your dues, and don't jump into anything foolishly romantic. And for goodness sake, don't tell them about the Sheldons.
Having launched into the business headlong on a shoestring budget—selling a car, sleeping on the floor—Dylan and Tobe Sheldon ran the county's most twee tasting room when we last saw them, in Sebastopol. Although the duo has since decoupled the caboose and set up on the other side of the tracks, sandwiched in between the 101 freeway and a ready-mix cement plant, Sheldon, their partners Krutz Family and MJ Lords Wine Cellars, and neighbors D'Argenzio Winery are making the best of their industrial-strength location, calling it the "Urban Winery Village." Trellised grape arbors and a bocce ball court are in the works, and a gourmet kitchen, deli and possibly a beer tasting room are threatening to join them soon. For now, noshables are provided via food truck on every "Thirsty Thursday" evening. Each winery offers a five dollar wine by the glass, paired with mobile offerings from Street-Eatz, La Texanita or Chicago Hot Dog, as you like it. Starting last weekend, on Mother's Day, May 8, mobile crépery Ultra Crepes will pull in around 11am to 3pm, every Sunday.
Sheldon's 2009 La Naris ($28) just might be the ticket for the savory crépe pairing. With floral, cool, white-rose and mandarin-orange aromas, this white Rhone mashup is full-bodied but has racy acidity. Sheldon seeks out unusual varietals in family-run vineyards, resulting in rarities like the 2009 Graciano ($28). With nose-tingling scents of jasmine tea, incense and pepper, this soft, lively red, from 19 feet below sea level in the Delta, is tagged "Super Freak." It's unusual as a varietal wine even in its native Spain.
Typifying the Sheldon style, their Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon is what Tobe describes as an old-fashioned Cab from decades past: a medium-bodied claret with Chianti-like fruit and brightness. It's got finesse and balance, yet you could take it to your next pasta feed and drink it by the keg—literally. Sheldon distributes the Cab and a white in stainless steel kegs, the equivalent of 26 bottles. What's better than that? Crépes and wine, folks, spring and summer Sunday mornings. Sheldon Wines, 1301 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa. Friday-Monday noonish to sixish; tasting fees $5-$15 include nekkid logo tasting glass. Thirsty Thursdays, 4-8pm. 707.865.6755.