These words embody Isabel Mondavi's joie de vivre - and the panache she used to fashion her own brand - I'M Wines.
Named for her initials, I'M Wines was created after Isabel asked her son Rob, a winemaker, to make a Rosé from the family's Cabernet Sauvignon to serve at her weekly luncheon for a group of friends. Isabel expected 20 cases; Rob gave her 300, presenting both a problem and a solution. Though the lunch gathering could not hope to drink the entire production, the wine was impressive enough to make a name for itself on the market. Thus, the label was born. In addition to I'M Rosé, it includes I'M Chardonnay, with a Pinot Noir in the works.
Armed with nearly 40 years of experience as a close witness and advisor to the wine business, Isabel refused to be encumbered by industry standards when creating her label. Her Napa Valley Cabernet is pink, not the traditional deep red. She didn't stop there. Since she is a fan of Sonoma County Chardonnay, Rob has made her one in the style she loves best.
Every aspect of the brand is family based. Dina, Isabel's daughter, worked with her mother and a designer to create the label and the aesthetics of the bottle. The unusual use of a Bordeaux shape for the Chardonnay bottle was chosen by Dina because Isabel finds it easier to pour. View all I'M Wines
About Sonoma CountyView a map of Sonoma County wineries
Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Notable FactsThe largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.