AWG Correspondent

Becky Parr

Murphy-Goode Winery Photos

Murphy-Goode Winery Review

Regions: Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley AVA, California

Reviewed: June 15, 2013 by Becky Parr
Published: August 8, 2013

At Murphy-Goode, it’s all about "living the Goode life." I can think of nothing better!

The Place:  Murphy-Goode’s grapes come from throughout Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, and the California North Coast, but the tasting room is located on the fun and busy Healdsburg Square. It was our first stop on a day of visiting Sonoma wineries, and it was trying to rain, so we didn't get to take advantage of the outdoor seating, which I imagine would be lovely on a pleasant day.

Inside is bright and airy, with high ceilings and lots of room for milling around. The tasting counter will accommodate quite a few eager tasters, and if you can't happen to find a spot, there are plenty of gifts and décor for you to browse through. (The bathrooms are very nice too, which we ladies often find quite important.)

Upon entering the tasting room, one can't help but notice the Minnesota Vikings paraphernalia. After an initial double-take ("I thought we were in California!") you find the explanation that the current winemaker and son of one of the winery’s founders, David Ready, Jr., is from Minnesota and loves the Minnesota Vikings. Look closely – the wine bottle labels are edged in purple in honor of David’s favorite team! Being a football fan, I thought that was a nice touch. I guess I’m not the only one who drinks wine while watching football!

The People:  If you read the stories in the tasting room and on Murphy-Goode’s website, you learn that the three founders, Dave Ready, Tim Murphy, and Dale Goode, conceptualized the idea for the winery over a game of Liar’s Dice in 1985. Dave Ready’s son is now the winemaker, while the founders have since retired. I am sad to say that I didn't get the name of the lovely young lady who waited on us; she was bright and happy (as was everyone we encountered), talked me into joining the wine club (it wasn't hard), and took an appropriately silly and ridiculous photo of us in Viking hats, which is what they do when you join the wine club. The hats were ours to keep, but we only took one because there were airplanes and baggage fees involved. I must apologize to the team member at the bar for not getting her name, because her service was courteous and friendly, and she had good information and suggestions, so I wish I could give her kudos.

The Wines:  This is my favorite part. Murphy-Goode has some really nice wines, both red and white. My favorite of the whites was one of the several Chardonnays, called Minnesota Cuvee – and no, the grapes don’t come from Minnesota, but the oak for the barrels does! The winemaker describes it as "toasty," and that’s the flavor that comes from the oak – but it really is very soft and doesn’t hit you in the face the way some oakiness does in white wines. I think it’s an excellent drinker, and there are three bottles in my wine rack right now. To me, this is how Chardonnay is supposed to taste. Also among the whites was the Fume, a Sauvignon Blanc that is very light and crisp and perfect for poolside drinking in the summer.

My favorite, hands down, was the Liar’s Dice Zinfandel. (Side note: Many of Murphy-Goode's wines are named after card games or phrases used in card games, as an homage to the origin of the winery and its founders.) But oh, that Zinfandel. Okay, I admit to a certain fondness for Zinfandel. But this one is smooth, not tannic, and full of cherry and blackberry. I love, love, LOVE it. If judging on this wine alone, M-G would get 5 stars from me. Another favorite is the "All In" Claret, which is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, all from Alexander Valley. My friends are big fans of the Terra A Lago Cabernet Sauvignon, which I haven’t had a chance to try yet, but it’s in my wine rack!

Another emphasis at Murphy-Goode is "Do Goode," which is personified in the Homefront Cuvee, a Merlot varietal; part of the proceeds of every bottle sale go to the Operation Homefront organization, which benefits active military and veterans. It’s a good Merlot, particularly after decanting. But I thought it was really impressive that the winery would focus so much on charitable giving and a worthy cause.

The Experience:  I loved this winery and would go back in a heartbeat. It’s such a positive place, besides having some really good wine. If you visit their website, you get an idea of the upbeat attitude that seems to pervade the entire organization. I think a sense of humor is a prerequisite for working there. Murphy-Goode is a must-visit Healdsburg winery, if not a must-visit Sonoma winery.

Insider's Tip:  Look at the website before you go. There are half-off tasting coupons!

Address & Contact Information: 20 Matheson St. Healdsburg, California 95448. Telephone: 707-431-7644, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 10:30-5:30.

Overall Rating:  

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