We're heading back to (my favorite wine region) Russian River the first weekend in October and are looking for advice on what to do and what to expect. We've been to RRV several times but only during the off season. Is there anything special we should do at this time of year, and conversely, is there anything we should avoid?
Seeking Advice for Russian River 1st Weekend in October
- Reply by outthere, Sep 16, 2013.
Got a few questions for you.
- Where will you be staying (what town)?
- How many days?
- What places have you enjoyed in the past?
- What style of winemaking is appealing to you presently?
- What varieties float your boat?
- Reply by vin0vin0, Sep 16, 2013.
1. We'll be staying in our favorite Forestville B&B.
2. We'll be arriving mid-aftenoon Sunday (10/6) and leaving early Wednesday.
3. We've enjoyed quite a few places in the past, from large (Rodney Strong, Simi, Korbel) to very small (Scherrer, Frick, Adrian Fog) and everything in between. Here are some places on my still to do list, any recommendations would be greatly appreciated:Joseph SwanPetrichor VineyardsSiduri & NovyParadise RidgeCarol SheltonJordan WineryChalk HillStryker SonomaThe Barlow (mainly for Kosta Browne wine and Zazu restaurant)
4. We have been shying away from the big jammy reds and sweet whites. We have been leaning more towards more fruit forward reds and lean, minerally whites. Last night we totally enjoyed a 2010 Scherrer Old and Mature Zin and a Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Blanc.
5. Current favorites include Pinots, zins, leaner chards and Rhone style blends (red and white).
- Reply by outthere, Sep 16, 2013.
Farmhouse Inn, Case Ranch or Radford Inn?
Swan is an excellent choice. Don't miss it.
Petrichor is made by Duncan Arnot-Meyers of Arnot-Roberts fame. Make an appointment to taste Arnot-Roberts and ask Duncan about Petichor as well.
Right around the corner from AR is Holdredge Wines. John Holdredge is a kick and his Pinots are some of the best in Sonoma County.
At The Barlow you should also check out Wind Gap. If you call to make an appointment ask if Ryan Glaab will be there and you can taste some of his excellent RYME Cellars Vermentino, Ribolla Gialla amongst others.
Haven't been to Carol Shelton in a long time. There are a number of wineries in that complex that are worth a look. There is a custom crush there called Vinify that has a tasting bar featuring some of their clients wines. Small production boutique labels.
Siduri/Novy is right down the road. They have some nice offerings. Siduri does like 15 different Pinots.the Novy Syrah's should fit your flavor profile also.
I would be remiss if I did not suggest a stop at Gracianna. Halfway between F'ville and H'burg on Westside Rd across the street from Arista. My Step Son is the winemaker. He has a fabulous Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as well as a Pinot and Zinfandel. All award winners. Tasting by appt only on Wednesday, otherwise 10-5 every day.
Wine Guerrilla just opened a tasting room in Downtown F'ville. They feature SVD Zinfandels from old vine locations all over the county. Well made, affordable wines with great pedigree. Worth a stop for sure.
Should still be harvest season although some Zinfandels are being picked already as this season is a few weeks ahead of normal. Lots going on right now. Nothing I would say to avoid because of the time of year. The weather should be awesome. PM me if you have any questions you don't want to post in the forum.
- Reply by vin0vin0, Sep 17, 2013.
OT, we'll be staying with Dane and Rita at The Raford Inn, can't say enough good things about them and their place.
Thanks for all of the great tips, we'll see what we can fit it that isn't already on the schedule. I've seen you mention Gracianna in previous posts and will definitely try to stop in seeing as it's very near where we'll be staying.
Our biggest concern about visiting during harvest is the likelihood of being three deep in the tasting rooms or folks not taking appointments because their slammed with 18 hour days. We have really been spoiled on past (off season) visits having tasting rooms practically to ourselves and no problems getting appts.
On the flip side, we're hoping that there will be some fun things going on like the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Unfortunately we'll be driving down from Mendocino on the last day the Fair is open and probably won't get there much before the 5 pm closing time.
- Reply by outthere, Sep 17, 2013.
This is not the busy time of year around here. People stop coming after Labor Day. The only time I have seen 3 deep tasting rooms is during barrel sample weekends or other event weekends. Also most Tasting rooms are generally staffed by dedicated employees so the crush will not affect their ability to serve you.
- Reply by mrwino, Sep 17, 2013.
You're going to the RR, but keep in mind you're only a few minutes to one of the best tasting experiences in California...Dry Creek Valley! I visit the valley at least once a month, even though it's a 2 1/2 hour drive. I've been going there for over 15 years. Here are a couple of my favorite wineries.
1. Mazzocco. Ready for this...they do about two dozen different Zins, and a dozen or so other great wines. I have yet to have nothing less than a great wine here.
2. Wilson. Diane Wilson was recognized as the 2008 International Woman's Winemaker of the Year, along with a list of accomplishments too long to list here. Some of the best wines I've ever tasted.
3. Armida. Fun group there and some great wines. If you have an opportunity, taste the Maple Zins. They do a Tina's block, and a straight Maple Zin. Tina's is to die for! If Nick is around, tell Tom from WINO 101 sent you and he'll show you a great time. Fantastic place to bring a lunch to.
Here's another thing I do EVERY time I visit. Stop by the Dry Creek Store, right in the valley between Mazzocco and Wilsons, but get there before 11:30 as this place really starts rockin' at noon!. Buy one or two of their Italian sandwiches and take them to Wilsons, about one minute up the road. They have a deck that has possibly the best place to eat lunch, enjoy a bottle of one of Diane's wines and just relax. What a view! There's more suggestions on my web site www.wine-o-101.com.
Hope this helps, and have a great time!
- Reply by vin0vin0, Sep 17, 2013.
Hey MRWino, great suggestions, much appreciated!
In previous excursions we have taken lunch at the Dry Creek General Store and sat and chatted with the locals and the bikers and had a great time. We visited a number of the DCV wineries (Mauritson and Ridge in particular) but none of the ones you mentioned, so those have now moved to the top of our list and we'll see if we can fit them in (if not this time, I keep a running list of "Still to do wineries").
One other thing, if you or anyone else has suggestions on a really nice place for an anniversary dinner we'd like to hear about it. I've looked into Barndiva, John Ash, Farmhouse Inn and Dry Creek Kitchen and they all look great but would like to hear other opinions.
- Reply by outthere, Sep 17, 2013.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 18, 2013.
Okay, since you have been to Mauritson, I'm going to leave that off my list for a side trip into DCV, but if you head up that way, I think you should visit the following:
Bella--awesome cave cut into the side of the mountain, a new chef in the tasting room who has a Michelin star in his background, and really good Zins; at least one SVD will grab your attention.
Preston--I went there when I didn't even want wine because he grows olives and makes oil, bakes bread that you can buy, and will still be pressing apples for cider. When I say "he," I mean Lou Preston, the founder/farmer/jester/eccentric who started the whole thing. Remember Mr. Natural from R. Crumb? Well, both Lou and his son look like his long-lost relatives. Oh, there's a farm store that operates on the honor system, so bring cash. His wine is really good, too.
Talty--everything Mike Talty makes is "single vineyard." His estate is one old patch of vines and that's his best bottling, IMO, but the Filice Connolly could open your eyes to a different range of possibilities--a more feminine, refined Zin that shows dramatic improvement over time. Everyone knows how much esteem I have for Clay Mauritson, but guess what winery I have drunk the most wine from over the last half-decade? Yep, it's Talty, and nearly all of it was Estate Zin. BTW, the "natural" movement has nothing on him for letting the grapes and the land speak. Dry farmed, volatile acidity, he's fearless in his pursuit of wines made in the vineyard.
Finally, Yoakim Bridge is another one-man show, like Preston, but also very different. Assuming he's open and has wine to sell--his devotees from his club consume almost everything he makes.
All that said, I think if you are staying in the RRV belt, even though they are close, it's too much to do to hit DCV with the limited time you have. I'd do what OT is suggesting, and save a trip to Dry Creek (and Dry Creek Kitchen) for another time. (But isn't Siduri's tasting room still in the facility in Santa Rosa? It's industrial and was, for me, a disappointment--the wines they poured did not show well at all.)
- Reply by vin0vin0, Sep 19, 2013.
Fox, thaks for info!
We visited Talty last time out and got to spend an hour or so with Mike Talty. He poured us what he had out, showed us around some of his vines which were right outside the door and then we went back into his tasting room and he proceded to open two more bottles of his older stuff, a really nice zin and a great syrah. We were very impressed with his wines and they way he treated us.
We haven't been to Bella, Preston or Yoakim Bridge but I see that they each have tasting rooms and Bella and Preston are open during the week so if we have an extra hour at the end of the day we'll see what we can squeeze in. Bella has been on my "to get to list" as I am a big fan of Rockpile zins, the other two have been added, tx.
BTW, hope you all have a great time at the Pinot Throwdown at the end of next month, sounds like it'll be a blast and quite an education event as well.
- Reply by outthere, Sep 19, 2013.
Just thinking, if you are driving down from Mendocino and you decide to take Hwy 128 through the Anderson Valley there area lot of great spots to taste along the way.
Also in the RRV is Copain which is well worth a visit for some seriously good Pinot, Syrah and Chard. Appointment only and a mere 3-4 miles from The Radford. Might be member only tasting since they went appt only but I could hook you up if interested.
- Reply by vin0vin0, Sep 19, 2013.
OT, we'll be flying into SFO and driving up the 101. On the way up these are the places that seem like they may be interesting:McNab Ridge WinerySIP!MendocinoJerikoRivinoParducciTestaHere's a list of places I'd like to try to get to while we're staying in Mendocino (most likely more that we can do in 2 days but it's good to have options):Edmeades WineryNavarro VineyardsRoederer EstateHusch VineyardsHandley CellarsScharffenberger CellarsClaudia Springs WineryHarmonique - Conzelman VineyardsLazy Creek VineyardsGreenwood Ridge VineyardsGoldeneye Winery
I am not very familiar with most of these wineries so this is going to be a lot of fun finding new wines! As always, if anyone has any rec's for any other Mendocino area wineries or an opinion on the ones I've listed, please chime in.
We were fortunate enough to have visited Copain on our trip out in 2010, thank you for the offer to set us up. When we were there we purchased their '07 James Berry Roussanne which was out of Paso Robles. We have since been able to find their Tous Ensembles Syrah here locally in North Carolina.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 20, 2013.
Lazy Creek was bought by Ferrari Carano a while back. I don't know how the vibe is since the switch.
Goldeneye charges for tasting ($5 for the basic) and does not refund with purchase but the wines are fantastic and the tasting room folks are very nice and pretty knowledgeable. The setting is gorgeous. Roederer's tasting program is really good with a pretty wide range of pours. One fun part is that they pour the same wine from 750 and magnum. I didn't notice a difference, but others claimed to.
One that is missing from your list is Toulouse. They sell their grapes to Baxter as well as making extremely good pinot themselves and the prices aren't too out of line. They waive tasting fees with purchase. If you like Gewurz, they make a very good example.
I haven't been to Husch or Navarro in years, but I used to be pretty regular up that way when they were nearly the only game in town and the vibe was always friendly and funky, esp at Husch. Next time I get up that way, I am going back to those two.
The family that started Silver Oak now makes Syrah up there. It's at the easternmost end of the valley, called Meyers Family. I have made fun of what Silver Oak has become, but I hear from the locals in Mendo that the Syrah is great. The description of it on the website sounds a little fruit forward for my taste, but if you like the style, it could be something you want to try.
Keep in mind that the town of Mendo is on the coast and the wineries are in the Anderson Valley. The trip down from Mendocino to 128 is not huge, but it's not trifling, and then you have to take the windy forest road into the valley. We stop on our way into Mendo and on our way out because once we get to the coast, we want to stop driving and stay there.
BTW, VinoVino, my brother in law lives in Asheville and , with his wife, runs North Carolina Wine Gifts. (Okay, gotta clear that up. He's no longer married to my sister, but he's a very good friend and I still consider him a relative.) The wineries have a way to go, but I've had a couple decent bottles. Now that tobacco isn't what it used to be, maybe the drier mountain areas will turn out to be good for wine.
- Reply by vin0vin0, Sep 21, 2013.
Once again, all very helpful information, much appreciated.
Toulouse is not on my list because that was the one Anderson Valley winery we were able to visit our last time out. The folks in the tasting room were very friendly and welcoming. We really enjoyed their whites and brought home a bottle of Pinot Gris.
Checked out the ex-inlaw web site, I'm not familiar with any of those particular wines but I was very impressed with a couple wineries on our last visit to the Banner Elk, Boone, Blowing Rock area, in particular Raffaldini (about 1.5 hours NE from Asheville). I must say that NC wines are progressing nicely, maybe a good idea for a separate thread.
- Reply by vin0vin0, Oct 12, 2013.
Here's the report from our trip to the Russian River area and Mendocino.
Our normal routine is to split one tasting and then buy one or two bottles of what tasted best. I find that we can do an adequate job of tasting, visit a decent number of wineries and still be standing at the end of the day. We visit places which welcome walk-ins and we also make a few appointments.
In Mendocino we stayed at the Agate Cove Inn B&B right on the ocean. There were fantastic sunsets each evening, nice folks running the place and a good breakfast each morning.
Here are the best wine parts of the Mendo trip:
1. Tasting with Maria, the winemaker at Testa. Maria is obviously excited to be doing what she is doing and enjoyed sharing her enthusiasm with us. We tasted two very nice red blends, a carignane and a really good white blend.
2. Sampling the sparkling wines at Roederer. These are made more in the French style, dry, yeasty but with nice fruit. They poured a taste of their estate brut from a 750 ml bottle and another from a magnum. Not sure if we were just caught up in the moment or under the influence of the power of suggestion but we swear there was a difference between the two.
3. The zins at Edmeades were big and very tasty.
The one big disappointment was with the pinots at Goldeneye. They were thin, metallic and left a medicinal taste in the back of the mouth. I just don't agree with all the accolades that have been given to them recently and for $80 a bottle I expected a lot more or maybe my palate was just a bit off that day.
On the RRV side, we stayed at our favorite B&B - The Raford Inn, in Forestville. We can't say enough good things about the owners Dane and Rita, the setting and the fantastic breakfast they put on every morning. They have roughly 140 vines on their property and make their own wines. On our last day we barrel tasted the 2011 and 2012 Zin in the laundry room before breakfast. We tasted the bottled 2010 too. For a home wine maker, these were very well made wines, unfortunately they are not for sale.
As far as wine tastings here are the highlights:
1. We had a great time at Joseph Swan (open Sat and Sun only). The woman behind the counter pouring our tastings was an Aussie from Texas. She was extremely enthusiastic about being in the wine business and told us a great story about her previous employment as an oil commodities trader and how she came to realize her true passion for wine. She wore the bandaids on her fingers from the harvest as badges of honor.
2. Benovia – this was a seated tasting by appointment. Our young host was very knowledgeable and friendly. We tasted through several excellent pinots and one zin.
3. The setting at Chalk Hill is beautiful as are their wines. There was a $15 non-refundable tasting fee for four wines, a sauv blanc, chard, red blend and a syrah. The wines were very good and the seated tasting on their terrace overlooking the vineyards was really, really nice, plus they poured us a couple of extra’s not on the list.
4. We also thoroughly enjoyed a private tasting with the owners of Petrichor at their incredible home. They only produce one wine each vintage which is a Syrah-Grenache blend from the 2 1/4 acres of vines on their land. Their wine maker is Duncan Arnot Meyers of Arnot-Roberts.
All in all this was a great trip with a lot of good wine, great people and beautiful scenery. Looking back at everyone’s suggestions we pretty much stayed with my original itinerary but I have a list of all of the above recommendations on my spreadsheet for our next northern Sonoma adventure.
Here are the places we stopped and the purchases we made:
Friday (from SFO to Mendocino on Hwy 101)
Parducci Coro Mendocino
Parducci Small Lot Blend Rose
Testa Vineyards Carignane
Saturday (Anderson Valley on Hwy 128)
Shamrock Vineyard Zinfandel
Navarrouge Mendencino Red Table Wine
Muscat Cluster Select
Estate Brut Rose
Reserve Pinot Noir
Postre Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
Anderson Valley Vin Gris
Sunday (Mendocino to RRV)
Trenton View Vineyard Pinot Noir
Les Trois Red Blend, 2009 and 2010
Pinot Noir La Pommeraie
Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Siduri & Novy
Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir
Hook and Ladder
Bonita's Hill Don Miquel Vineyard Chardonnay
Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay
Van Der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 14, 2013.
Thanks for updating--that happens too rarely.
Goldeneye is a little more restrained than a lot of Cali PN, but it also sounds like you caught them not at their best. I agree that they are pricey--at the uppermost end of my tolerance. But the Gowan's Creek and the estate bottles wowed me. I like their delicacy and aromas, don't find them metallic. I would buy more if the prices were lower. Tastes differ, of course.
I'm going to have to look for Petrichor--I think some of the grenache/syrah blends up that way, like Unti's Petit Frere, can be really good. Unfortunately, they often do badly on price IMO--there's a lot of good GSM type blends from the S. Rhone that are not CdP that sell at reasonable prices. But always good to look closer to home.
Thanks also for those great pictures--the view from Roederer's tasting area is to Anderson Valley wine country what the view from up by Auberge du Soleil is to Napa. (For those not wanting to pay Auberge prices, a group that includes me, Rutherford HIll winery's parking lot is just a bit to the southeast and upslope--the winery is Terlato owned and I don't love the wines, but worth it for the view.)
- Reply by outthere, Oct 14, 2013.
The Petrichor is a big meaty tannic wine. Needs time.
Got this bottle from Duncan Arnot-Myers when I was picking up my AR Rosé. Let it sit in the cellar for a couple months before popping. Followed over 4 days. Blend of 84% Syrah from clones 877 and 470, 16% Grenache grown in volcanic soil at 1100', 13.5% abv.
Day 1 decanted a couple hours over lunch. Real tight but hinting to its structure with big black/blue fruit, nice acid backbone and mouth drying tannins. Recorked, put in fridge and revisited on day 4.
Deep dark opaque purple. Captivating nose of violets, licorice and nutmeg. The palate is medium/full, with soft, silky blue fruit, white pepper and iron. Balanced acid, a little grapefruit pith and chalky tannins frame the finish. Nice mouthful of juice here with a bright future.
- Reply by vin0vin0, Oct 15, 2013.
OT, I'll definitely be laying down the '10 for a while but with the cooler months approaching, the '09 might be a good pairing with a beef brisket or a hearty stew this winter, but most likely will set both bottles in the back of the cellar, they will not go bad any time soon.
Fox, I'm still thinking about our Goldeneye experience - we really must have been served bottles opened the day before or the glasses must not have been rinsed very well. What we got was totally unexpected and probably not their norm. Although I must say, the views from their back porch were very nice.
We've tasted many a fine Pinot, the most recent trip before this was to Willamette Valley where I was blown away by the Arborbrook, Sokol Blosser, Ponzi, Cristom and St. Innocent offerings. I would put all of these in the "Burgundian" style category, i.e., crisp, tongue cleansing, acidic, but extremely well balanced with bright red fruit and none of what I call, baseball card bubblegum taste. I was expecting Oregon-like Pinots in Anderson Valley.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge our faithful DD after our tasting at Marimar and La Follette followed by a fine dinner at Zazu in the Barlow (next time we'll make an appt to taste at Wind Gap).
- Reply by outthere, Oct 15, 2013.
We ate at Zazu on Friday a couple weeks a ago. It was good but the ambiance of the Roadhouse Cafe they had at their last location was killer. This visit was not as personal as they have quadrupled the size of the restaurant and it's way too modern any busy now. Way too many options for dining around here and I think the move to the Barlow dampens the experience for us. Unfortunate.