Winery: Muscardini Cellars
Ownership: Privately owned by winemaker/proprietor Michael Muscardini.
Winemaker: Michael Muscardini. Michael got his love of wine from his grandfather who immigrated to the US from Italy. In the tasting room, they have a Resident Sommelier, Ryan Stetins, who is available for questions and elevated tastings.
Location: A tasting room in Kenwood, CA.
Types of Wines: Muscardini offers a wide variety of wines. Michael specifically enjoys focusing on Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio and Barbera, but also produces varietals that are typical of Sonoma Valley such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. They do only 1 white wine, but they also have a Rosato, which is a rosé of Sangiovese. In addition to their red varietal wines, they do several red blends.
Wine Price Range: $24 to $125
Production Size/Distribution: Overall production size is about 5000 cases annually. They do very limited distribute to specialty wine shops, but mainly sell direct to consumer through the club and tasting room.
Tasting Experience Options: Walk-in tasters are welcome and they offer elevated tasting experiences by reservation. They are open daily, 11 AM – 6 PM.
Walk-in Tastings: Tasters can customize their own flight of 5 wines. Tastings are $15 per person. They do tastings at the bar inside or at tables on their deck. Groups of 6 or more need to make a reservation. Guests can also choose to do a Reserve Tasting for $25 per person, which will include a selection of their award-winning, smaller production, reserve wines, which are not generally available for the $15 tasting.
Private Reserve Tasting: This experience is $35 per person by appointment only and is conducted by the Resident Sommelier, Ryan Stetins. This tasting is held in their Reserve Room and includes a selection of their limited production wines paired with artisan cheeses from local creameries.
Library Selection and Culinary Experience: This experience is $55 per person and advanced reservations are required. This is a VIP-type tasting that includes a selection of their limited production library wines paired with an assortment of traditional Italian cuisine. The tasting is held in their Reserve Room and is conducted by the Resident Sommelier, Ryan Stetins.
Large Group Tastings: Muscardini Cellars can accommodate groups from 20 to 200 people so they can customize large group tastings to suit their needs.
Tasting Experience Rating: Since they offer a range of tasting options, we give them a range rating of 90 to 98 points! If possible, you should try the elevated experiences–they are worth it!
Wine Rating: 88 to 96 points.
The Good: This winery has a lot of “good” things.
- The range of tasting options is very good. Many wineries offer only 1 tasting experience so this gives people options to suit their interests.
- Winemaker Michael Muscardini is often at the tasting room and is fun to talk with and happy to share his story of learning about wine from his grandfather and how he left a successful career owning a construction company to follow his passion and start a winery.
- The fact that they have a Resident Sommelier is terrific. Many wineries don’t have staff that are so knowledgeable. Ryan is very easy to talk with and is amazing at answering questions while making guests feel comfortable in asking even basic wine questions.
- They have a robust list of fun events for all types of guests. Check out their online calendar.
- They offer a lot of events that are exclusive to wine club members and for 2017 they are doing a wine club cruise in Europe. Club members also receive discounted pricing on wine and elevated tasting experiences (many tasting options are free to club members.)
- The offer a variety of fun merchandise for sale in their tasting room, including some packaged foods.
- The tasting room is in a fun old red school house building and has a great atmosphere.
- They always have barrel tasting in the tasting room.
The Bad: There are only a few detractors in tasting at Muscardini. Because they are a popular tasting room for walk-in guests, they can often be extremely busy, so if you are looking for a quieter tasting location, this isn’t for you. Their Reserve Room, which is where they do their elevated tasting experiences, is not completely separate from the rest of the tasting room (no door that closes it off), so spillover of noise will go into that space. Finally, their deck area is fun and comfortable with tables and umbrellas for tasting outside, but the downside is that the highway is very close so you do see/hear the cars going by.
*Ratings are on a 100 point scale.
90 to 100 points=Outstanding
80 to 89 points=Good
70 to 79 points=OK (not good but not bad)
60 to 69 points=Wish we had gone elsewhere.
Below 60 points=Run fast in the other direction.