Sonoma Trip Report Day 2: MacMurray Ranch

Taste of Sonoma
MacMurray Ranch

It was a beautiful, sunny, 82 degree day as we pulled into the grassy parking area on the property of MacMurray Ranch in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County wine country. MacMurray Ranch was purchased by actor Fred MacMurray in 1941. Fred raised award-winning cattle on the ranch for 50 years.

The ranch has been owned since 1996 by Gallo Family Vineyards (450 of the ranch’s 1500 acres are now planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Zinfandel vines) and managed by Fred and June Haver’s daughter Kate. We met Kate at the Winemakers Dinner last year at Disneyland. She invited us to visit the ranch, but we didn’t know when we would get the chance — until now.

We felt the history of the ranch as we walked toward the event we were attending — the Sonoma County Wine Country Weekend Taste of Sonoma. And we felt very privileged to be here — the ranch is open to the public only for a few special events like this.

Because we purchased discounted tickets for this event with a Visa Signature card, we were invited into the Visa Signature Lounge where special wines and local cheeses were being served.

After enjoying the lounge for a while, we ventured to the other tents representing the four appellations of the Sonoma wine country: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Valley.

Some of the food and wine we experienced in the tents were:

Vineyards
Ashton Vineyards, Balletto Vineyards, Buena Vista Carneros, Chateau St. Jean, Deerfield Ranch, Deloach Vineyards, Delorimier Winery, Ehret Family Winery, Everett Ridge Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Frick Winery, Geyser Peak Winery, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Hartford Family Winery, Harvest Moon Winery, Hook & Ladder Winery, Kendall-Jackson, Kenwood Vineyards, Kokomo Winery, MacMurray Ranch, Mill Creek Vineyards, Rancho Zabaco, Ravenswood Winery, Roadhouse Winery, St. Francis Winery, Simi Winery, Stryker Sonoma Winery, Terlato Family Vineyards.

Wines
Barbera, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Cinsaut, Fumé Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Malvasia Bianca, Marsanne Roussanne, Meritage, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Rosé, Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel, as well as special blends like the new Director’s Cut Cinema (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Sirah) from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Food
Bear Braised Prawn over Creamy Polenta with Montasio Cheese and Spicy Coulis (Hopmonk Tavern), Burrata Beef Tartar BLT with Heirloom Tomato Jam (Simi Winery), Gruyere Cheese Gougere, “Mano Formate” Guanciale, Grilled Fig, Argula & Fig Vin Cotto (The Girl and The Fig), Kobe Beef Slider (John Ash, Vintners Inn), Ricotta & Pork Meatball, Brioche Bun, San Marzano Tomato Sauce (Estate), Summer Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Caviar (Mosaic Restaurant), Zin Biscuits with House Cured Ham (Zin Restaurant).

This does not cover all the food and wine we enjoyed. We did not, however, come close to trying something from all 200 wineries and 40 food booths.

Between visits to the tents, we relaxed at the picnic tables set up on the property and took in a lovely view of the ranch house that Fred had renovated for his family.

We also visited several other interesting places:

Gloria Ferrer Bubble Lounge
We enjoyed the Blanc de Blanc and their other special bubbly blend with some snacks.

Grilling Station
After watching a couple grilling demonstrations, we tasted the grilled angus beef with roasted poblano sauce.

Sonoma County Marketplace
We wandered through the vendors’ booths, stopping only once for a sample of the microbrew beer from Third Street Aleworks Brewpub.

The Prune Barn & Kate MacMurray
The highlight of the day occurred when we visited the Prune Barn. Here Kate MacMurray was giving a history of the ranch and her family, as well as explaining the pictures and memorabilia displayed in the barn. After listening to Kate’s talk, we explored the barn and its memories. Then we got to talk to Kate personally and remind her that we met her at the Disneyland Food & Wine Festival. She was so sweet, talking with us, holding our hands, and telling us how happy she was to see us again and how grateful she was that we were supporting this wonderful event and the charities it helped. Kate is a very special, gracious woman, much as you might imagine her father was.

Shortly after visiting with Kate, we stopped by the Visa Signature Lounge again to try all the cheeses and some more wine before departing the ranch after an incredible day of wine, food, history, and the personal touch of Kate MacMurray.

Next post: Photos from this event

About Rich Eckardt

Byzantine Catholic Convert. Knight of Columbus. Celebrant of the Divine Office.