Wine Tasting at Breathless Wines: Women-Owned, Traditionally-Made Sparkling Wines in Healdsburg, California

Breathless Wines is a boutique family-run winery founded in 2012 by sisters Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust and Cynthia Faust. The sisters, who mainly focus on the business side of the winery, recruited renowned winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster to run the winemaking side of Breathless. Penny boasts 35 years experience in sparkling winemaking, including stints at Jordan Winery and Rack & Riddle Wines. 

While relatively new, Breathless has quickly distinguished itself as one of the forefront sparkling wine producers in California. The winery has been on our list to visit for a long time, so we were excited to finally score a reservation.

Tasting Room & Garden

The Breathless tasting room, which opened in 2016, is located in an industrial area of Healdsburg a few blocks away from the town square. Constructed out of four shipping containers, the tasting room is surrounded by a quaint garden and patio. The tasting room has a fun and funky feel with retro decorations and artwork. The vibe is casual, so you don’t have to worry about dressing up or practicing your wine vocabulary beforehand. If you are feeling adventurous, you can book a class on sabrage with an Italian saber to go along with your tasting. We watched a group practicing sabrage during their tasting, and it looked fun, but keep in mind that everyone in the tasting room will likely be watching you struggle to pop the cork, which adds some pressure.

The tasting room is open Thursday-Monday, 11am – 6pm with the final seating at 4:30. Reservations are required, which can be made online on Tock. We recommend booking at least a few days in advance, especially for weekend or holiday visits. All tastings are currently being held outside on the patio due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with masks and social distancing enforced for all staff and visitors. Make sure to dress for the weather!

Entry to the patio, decorated for Valentine’s Day
View from our table. Bottles are stored in this retro blue cooler on wheels.
Our table, with our first sample of Blanc de Noirs
Tasting room menu and wine list

Breathless Wines

All Breathless Wines are made with the traditional and time-honored French method, méthode champenoise, a detailed process with multiple fermentation stages. When done correctly, méthode champenoise produces a wine with fine bubbles and delicate aromas. In addition to producing a wide range of sparkling wines, Breathless also produces still Chardonnay, Rosé and Pinot Noir. 

At the tasting room, you can choose between three tasting flights: “Bubbles”, which includes three sparkling wines, “We Know Pinot” which includes two sparkling wines and one Pinot Noir, and “Still Breathless”, which includes three still wines. We both chose “Bubbles” tasting flight, which was priced at $20. All visitors are greeted at the tasting room with a glass of Breathless Brut, and served complementary chips alongside their tasting. Here are the wines we sampled during our tasting:

  1. Brut – $27. Light and refreshing with notes of citrus and pineapple. Made with 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grapes from Sonoma County. This wine is served to everyone upon arrival at the tasting room. 
  2. Blanc de Noirs – $32. Beautiful pale pink color, made with 93% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Meunier grapes from Sonoma County. Notes of raspberry and brioche. 
  3. Brut Rosé – $33. Crisp and bright acidity with notes of strawberry and meyer lemon. Made with 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay grapes from Sonoma County.  
  4. Sparkling Moscato – $29. Made with orange muscat grapes from the North Coast. While this type of grapes is usually used to make dessert wines, this Sparkling Moscato is bone dry. Wonderful aromas of tropical fruits and flowers. 

We purchased one bottle each of the Blanc de Noirs and Sparkling Moscato, which were our favorite wines from the tasting.

The bottles we purchased after our tasting. We love the labels and matching gift bags!

Final Thoughts

Breathless Wines is an obligatory tasting if you are a big sparkling wine fan, like we are. Their wines are delicious and very good value for sparkling, and their quality is demonstrated by their countless gold medal accolades at recent wine competitions. It is also rare to see a team of only women running a winery, so we love to support that. However, the tasting room doesn’t have the “wow” factor of some of our other favorite tasting rooms, since it doesn’t have a view and isn’t located in a very cute area. If you are looking for that type of experience, there are better wineries to visit. Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma, Domaine Carneros in Carneros and Korbel in Guernville are all sparkling wine producers that offer vineyard views and impressive estates in addition to high-quality sparkling wines.

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