Aperture — (E)State of the Art
At Aperture Estate in Healdsburg, discover art all around — from what’s in the bottle, to what’s adorning the walls, to where visitors sip these beautiful Bordeaux-style wines.
After all, winemaker and founder Jesse Katz is the son of famed photographer Andy Katz, whose photos have graced the album covers of the Doobie Brothers and Dan Fogelberg, and who has published 15 photo books.
Andy Katz’s work has brought him to more than 90 countries. And it was on many of those travels with his father, especially to France, that inspired Jesse Katz’s passion for wine-making.
In fact, the winery takes its name from the aperture of a camera lens, which controls the amount of light that hits the camera sensor that affects the exposure of the image. In that vein, Jesse Katz likens what he does to “shedding light” on what Bordeaux varieties grown in its 120 acres of estate vineyards in cooler areas of Sonoma can be like.
I had a chance to taste some of those wines on a recent visit to Healdsburg. Aperture Estate is by appointment only on Thursday through Monday, so do plan ahead.
What strikes you immediately is how different this winery looks. Unlike so many Mediterranean-style tasting rooms, Aperture’s is all sleek and contemporary, with clean lines, angled walls, high-contrast stark charcoal grays against white, and soaring glass walls with views of 10 acres of old vine Zinfandel.
Wander into the tasting room and discover a light-filled space decorated with stunning framed photos from Andy Katz’s latest book, ”A Walk In the Park,” a three-year project he started during the pandemic in which he visited and photographed 63 national parks in the United States.
Then, take a seat to enjoy a “Soil Series Experience” tasting either indoors or outside on the patio. The $50-per-person experience affords the opportunity to enjoy five wines: 2022 Chenin Blanc, 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, 2023 Bordeaux Red Blend, 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2018 Oliver Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.
Each wine label features a photo by Andy Katz, too.
The Chenin Blanc was supposed to be a one and done when a restaurateur friend of Jesse Katz asked for a recommendation for an aromatic wine to pair with oysters on the half shell. Katz decided to try making one himself. It proved so popular that it’s now a mainstay.
Featuring a young Chenin Blanc grape leaf on the label, it’s a refreshing wine with good acidity and fragrant notes of apricots, peaches and kumquats.
The 2022 Sauvignon Blanc marks the winery’s first estate-grown one. It boasts 16 percent Semillon, the most ever used in this wine, adding a smoothness to its fresh and bright quality, along with peach and vanilla creme brulee flavors.
The 2021 Bordeaux Red Blend is made with 44 percent Merlot, 27 percent Malbec, 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent Petit Verdot, and 9 percent Cabernet Franc. With its velvety mouthfeel, this was one of my favorites. It explodes with black cherries and black currants, balanced by tobacco and plenty of minerality.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery’s signature, and the 2021 label sports an eye-catching photo of what looks like blueberries but is actually Cabernet grapes. It is fragrant with graphite and bramble on the nose, and full of dark fruit and earth on the palate.
For fans of Cyrus restaurant in Geyserville, you’ll be tickled to learn that the grapes for the 2018 Oliver Ranch come from the vineyard on the grounds of that Michelin-starred restaurant. They make for a juicy wine redolent of blackberries, dark plums, raspberries, and loamy earth.
Art and wine lovers will find much to appreciate at Aperture. Cheers to that!