By Melanie Warner

I recently enjoyed a rare lunch and tour with master winemaker & mentor Lynn Fritz of Lynmar Estate Wines. This 100-acre ethereal winery and estate is located in Sebastopol, California in the Russian River Valley. It has been a destination for many wine aficionados for over 30 years. Quail Hill Ranch has served as a personal retreat for Lynn as an escape from his corporate life. Over the years, he continued to develop the land, and it has evolved into one of the most celebrated wineries in California.

My favorite quote of the day was from Lynn “wine is a primordial and an aggregate to conversation and community with people”.

That is exactly what we experienced during our picnic, served in the Courtyard overlooking Lynmar Estate’s Quail Hill Vineyard. It began with a bowl of organic popcorn sprinkled with estate elephant heart plum salt, paired with a Chardonnay. Next was a garden salad of baby fall lettuces, estate heirloom tomatoes, and toasted pepitas, dressed with a Gravenstein Apple vinaigrette. Then, a grilled Niman Ranch flank steak marinated in estate herbs was wrapped in pita with English cucumber, Redwood Hill Farm’s goat feta cheese, romaine lettuce, estate Frantoio olive aioli and fig vincotto. This paired flawlessly with a Pinot Noir. Our picnic concluded with a lavender shortbread cookie and a salted brown butter cookie.

My favorite spot was the Bliss House, surrounded by 360° views of the vineyards, organic vegetable gardens and wildflowers. This gracious 3-bedroom home is perfect for a romantic weekend or a base from which to explore Wine Country. It’s available to the public or special rates for Advocates club members.

What is Lynn’s greatest lesson as a winemaker? “Respect the vineyard. You are not in control, you are simply guiding it. Just like raising children, you don’t own them, but you have access to them and are simply a steward”.

This quote also embodies the ethos of the grounds, the gardens, the vines, the estate, and everything it touches. There is a candid air of excellence and dedication, more as an appreciation for all things living – as opposed to a stuffy, ostentatious vibe that one would expect from a winery that produces 78 varietals. It makes it challenging to pick a favorite, although it’s a pleasurable process to attempt. It is extremely rare to find a large-scale operation that offers wine with such a full body boutique taste, more similar to an artisan winery. You really can’t go wrong with any of the wines here.

The warmth, hospitality, and wisdom that exude from both Lynn and his wife, Anisya, are palpable. Their prior experience of building a global company, traveling the world, and pioneering humanitarian efforts, is evident in everything they produce with a level of reverence that is virtually unknown in the industry today.