Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wines

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wines the Adobe

What makes a winery or winemaker unique and stand out? When visiting a winery, I try to look for something different. It could be a unique variety used to produce wine, the region, or looking to the winemaker, their take on the wine, his path to winemaking, or something different in the winemaking process. In the case of Ryan Prichard, Director of Winemaking at the Sonoma winery Three Sticks Wines, his take on fermenting is a bit different. He uses dairy milk tanks as a trough for the fermenting process. He finds it a gentler treatment of the grapes. Another distinction differentiating Three Sticks Wines is this Sonoma Winery wine-tasting experience at the Adobe on the central square in Sonoma.

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wines Harvest.
Harvest. Photo Courtesy of Three Sticks Wines

William (Bill) Price III owns three Sticks Wines. The winery’s name is derived from the nickname Billy, three sticks given to Price in his youth to describe the numerals at the end of his name.

The Vineyards

Three Sticks consists of six vineyards, two of which are considered legacy properties. When the opportunity to purchase the 610-acre Durell Vineyard arose in 1997, Bill leaped at the prospect because the vineyards date back to the 1970s, making this a heritage vineyard. The Vineyard spans the Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Carneros AVAs. Diverse microclimates and rocky volcanic soils characterize this vineyard. Durell Vineyard grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc.

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wines Durell Vineyard

Another heritage vineyard Price owns is Gap’s Crown and, in its own right, merits the Grand Cru of Estates in Sonoma County. Gale winds coming through the Petaluma Gap influence the location. Heavy fog and sea breezes create hearty skins, allowing for a longer growing season. This Sonoma Coast AVA vineyard, planted in 2012, features Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Walala, which lies further north along the Sonoma Coast AVA, was planted in 2014 with Pinot Noir

The grapes from these three vineyards make up the Heritage Collection of wines. Three Sticks also sells these grapes to other wineries.

Three smaller vineyards make up the Monopole Collection of wines. The grapes from these vineyards are used exclusively for the Three Sticks Wines. Alana Vineyard, planted in 2010, and William James Vineyard, planted in 2013, are located in the Russian River Valley, while One Sky Vineyards represent the Sonoma Mountain region.

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wine
Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wine

Sonoma Winery Winemaker Ryan Prichard

During a wine appreciation class while attending Cornell University, that sparked Ryan’s interest in wine. The class was inspirational in weaving his path through agriculture, art, and science and capturing place and time in a bottle, depending on the vintage. While working in Colorado as a technology consultant, Ryan obtained his wine certificate from UC Davis. His destiny would take him back to California, where he was born. That journey would lead him to work with some of the top wineries in Sonoma, including William Selyem, Copain, and Medlock Ames in Healdsburg.

Ryan joined Three Sticks in 2015 to work with Bob Cabral. In 2023, he became Director of Winemaking. In 2020, he received the Rising Star Winemaker of the Year award from LuxeSF. Ryan is known for crafting distinctive estate Pinot Noir. For Ryan, it is about balancing contrasts. “You must be precise yet flexible, organic yet by-design.” “I try to create wines for immediate gratification that will also stand the test of time.” Those attributes one finds when sipping the wine of Three Sticks.

Three Sticks Winemaker Ryan Prichard
Winemaker Ryan Prichard

The Adobe

Winetasting at Three Sticks takes you on a journey to California’s early days. The 1842 Vallejo Adobe is the second oldest residence in Sonoma. It was built for General Vallejo, but his secretary, Don Juan Castenada, resided in the Adobe. The Adobe has been refurbished and represents the centerpiece of the old Sonoma Square.

Tastings are by appointment only.

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wines The Adobe
Three Sticks Wines The Adobe. Photo courtesy of Three Sticks Wines

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks White Wine

Castenada Rosé: Find a lively Rosé created to pay homage to Don Juan Castenada, the Adobe, the early days of California, and Sonoma winemaking. The wine represents a departure from the traditional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the backbone of Three Sticks. The wine is a Rhone blend of Syrah and Grenache. The bottle is unique for a Rosé in that it resembles the old Whiskey bottles they found during the restoration of the Adobe. Created in the Saignée process, the wine offers bright, refreshing flavors of strawberry and watermelon.

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Castenada Rosé
Three Sticks Castenada Rosé

Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay: This Chardonnay comprises three Dijon clones—the wine aged 11 months in 23% new French oak. I found a Chardonnay with more body and depth, exhibiting flavors of green apple and hints of citrus.

Durell Vineyards Chardonnay: The grapes for this Chardonnay consist of Wente Clone aged 14 months in 22% new French oak. I found a light, refreshing Chardonnay with hints of stone fruit flavors.

Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Red Wine

Price Family Estate Pinot Noir: This Pinot Noir showcases grapes from all six estate vineyards. Ryan considers blended Pinot the most fun to create. The wine aged ten months in 41% new French oak and displays a lively demeanor with bright florals and cherry flavors.

Three Sticks Price Family. Estate Pinot Noir
Three Sticks Price Family. Estate Pinot Noir

William James Vineyard Pinot Noir: This Pinot Noir ages 14 months in 46% new French oak. The wine exhibited the qualities typically found in the Russian River Valley and Goldridge fine sandy loam soils. I found a softer Pinot Noir with red fruit.

Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir: This Pinot Noir ages 14 months in 48% new French oak and displays more depth and sharpness. It emphasizes dark fruit.

Three Sticks Pinot Noir
Three Sticks Pinot Noir

Honoring the past while looking to the future is the underlying concept behind this Sonoma Winery, its success, forming a relationship between the vines, the wines, and the people who create the wine.

Note: As is common in the wine industry, this writer received a winetasting dinner hosted by Sonoma Winery Three Sticks Wines. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.