When you visit Simi Winery you will notice foliage decoratively placed and a striking view of the aged stone winery. A good size area is available outside the visitor’s center for tables and chairs. This area would be a great place to share a bottle of Simi’s carefully produced wine. Simi is noted for its early history, and one of the earliest women winery owners and winemakers (1904). A number of Simi’s wines have been rated highly by Wine Spectator.
Upon entering the Simi Visitor Center we were quickly greeted by an informative wine server, who was more than willing to share his knowledge of Simi’s history with us. The tasting room complete with a fireplace offers an assortment of wine related gifts to buy.
Simi offers two tours each day and we were fortunate to be on the first tour of the day at 11 a.m. As there were only six visitors on the tour, everyone was given personal attention, time to take photos and ask questions. Our guide told us, Simi is the “oldest continuous-running winery in California.” While Simi was founded in 1876, it was one of the few wineries in the country to continue their operation during Prohibition. Giuseppe and Pietro Simi, originally from Italy, passed away in 1904. Giuseppe's daughter, Isabelle, became the owner and winemaker until 1970. In anticipation that Prohibition would not last long, Isabelle and her husband produced wine and cellared the wine. When Prohibition ended, Simi had wine ready for the consumer. Simi celebrated the end of Prohibition by planting redwood trees at the winery.
Behind the tasting room is the cellar, a large stone building, built in the 1890's. Because of the winery's success an addition was completed in 1904. This doubled the size of the cellar. The two sections are evident when looking at the difference in the way the stone was laid. On the day of our visit, workers were cleaning barrels outside the cellar.
Walking to the left side of the building, our guide explained how the grapes arrived at the winery. Large tanks were seen. If you haven’t been to a large winery, you may well be surprised at the size of the tanks. Walking past these huge tanks we continued up a rise to where the grapes are crushed and sent in pipes to other tanks. Soon we were conducted into the old stone building where we saw oak barrels stacked.
Our guide emphasized that oak containers on their sides are called barrels whereas oak containers standing upright are tanks. From our experience it is a treat to see oak tanks in use in wineries. Simi also uses the best oak barrels available. At the current time these French oak barrels are priced at nine hundred dollars each.
The stone building is built into the bank of a hill. This allows the winery to use the natural insulation of the earth. Today many wineries are building modern caves in order to make use of earth’s insulation. After the tour our group tasted wines in the visitor center.
Simi is one of the wineries in California to visit, if you are a history buff, enjoy tours and want to taste several quality wines.
16275 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, California 95448
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