Sonoma County has many distinctions, but my favorite is that it grows more Pinot Noir than any other county in the state and the Russian River Valley (RRV) is one of the key elements in this winegrape production statistic. The Russian River Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA) earned its AVA dinstinction in 1983 and encompasses more than 15,000 acres of winegrapes and 110 wineries.
Although world-class Pinot Noir is grown in abundance in the RRV, it is not alone in the vineyards. Cool-climate-loving varietals express themselves beautifully in this region and as many as 35 varieties of wine are produced making the RRV incredibly diverse. The RRV consists of five distinct growing regions Middle Reach, Laguna Ridge, Green Valley, Santa Rosa Plain, and Sebastopol Hills.
The Russian River Valley climate is sculpted by the regular intrusion of cooling fog from the Pacific Ocean a few miles to the west. Much like the tide, it ebbs and flows through the Petaluma Wind Gap and the channel cut by the Russian River through the coastal hills. The fog usually arrives in the evening, often dropping the temperature 35 to 40 degrees from its daytime high, and retreats to the ocean the following morning. This natural air-conditioning allows the grapes to develop full flavor maturity over an extended growing season – often 15 to 20 percent longer than neighboring areas, while retaining their all-important natural acidity.
The effect of the cool climate and long growing season is often said to be the most consistent and balanced along the banks of the Green Valley Creek around which the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA centers. It lies in the southwestern part of the Russian River Valley, bounded by the towns of Sebastopol, Forestville and Occidental. Green Valley is all about vineyards with approximately 100 winegrape growers and only about 10 wineries. Cool-climate winegrapes like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer flourish here.
Additionally, in the northeastern corner of the Russian River Valley AVA lies the Chalk Hill AVA which is defined by its warmer climate and volcanic soils. Chalk Hill AVA has more than 1,400 vineyard acres and just four wineries. Chalk Hill is known best for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Semillon, Syrah, Sangiovese and Zinfandel are also grown; even Pinot Noir, in the right exposures.
When visiting the Russian River Valley it is important to remember that many of these wineries are small family farms and spaced a some interval from one another on country roads, so good planning should be implemented when seeking them out for their hand-crafted wines. Excellent maps, as well as information on restaurants, hotels & wineries are provided by many regional groups, including Russian River Valley Winegrowers, The Wine Road, and Sonoma Vintners.
Gourmet farm and vineyard dinners are common here, an expression of the area’s great wine, homegrown culinary culture and love of the great outdoors. Always check the wineries you are planning to visit (use the links to their websites) to see if upcoming events are being scheduled. In many locations you will find family members in the winery or tasting room proudly sharing their wares. If you would like your favorite RRV winery added to my bucket list for review, please let me know in the comments below. I am always looking to find and share a new wine experiences. Follow me on Twitter @jolenespatter or Instagram@jolenespatter to see the winery I am currently visiting. Additional information is available on annual events, such as Russian River Valley Passport to Pinot, Single Vineyard Night, A Wine & Food Affair, Winter WINEland, Barrel Tasting, and Taste of Sonoma. This winery list and information is always a work in progress and updated regularly. Please check back for new information and come find your new favorite wine / winery and share it with all of us that love this valley.
I have included primarily wineries that are open to the public, but some wineries do require reserverations or appointments. Always check with the winery before visiting this wonderful valley and its dedicated artisan winegrowers and winemakers, as circumstances do change.
(This page is currently in development, please check back for updates.)
12040 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg, CA 95448, 707-433-6440 Email: email@example.com
4353 Westside Road, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-473-0115, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
5700 Occidental Rd., Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-568-2455 x105, Email: email@example.com
(last time I visited their website it was down)
2948 Piner Rd., Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-578-4091, Wine Road Link to: Battaglini Estate Winery
3339 Hartman Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, 707-921-1040 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BRULIAM WINES – Kerith & Brian Overstreet – owners; Kerith Overstreet – winemaker
Bruliam Wines is a boutique producer of vineyard designated wines that is not open for tasting, but does show their wines at some events – check their website. Wines are sold through allocation. When there are profits, they donate 100% of those profits to the charities that wine club members choose.
PO Box 92, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
3572 Elisa Anne Way, Sebastopol, CA 95472, 707-328-4568, Email: email@example.com
3631 Mark West Station Road, Windsor, CA 95492, 707-337-0844, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3354-B Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa CA 95403, 707-575-3441, Email: email@example.com
320 Center Street, Healdsburg CA, 707-431-4441, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
133 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa CA 95405, 707-578-1826, http://www.cellarsofsonoma.com
10300 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg CA, Tasting Room: 707-657-4837; Customer Service 855-232-2338; Wine Club 866-221-6467 Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
CHAR VALE WINERY – Valerie Char – owner; ?? – winemaker
(Char Vale Winery does not have a website)
9280 Occidental Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472, 415-601-7666
4080 Old Redwood Hwy, Santa Rosa CA, (626) 609-1899, http://www.jjcustomwines.com
641 Limerick Lane, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-433-2001, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
7755 Bell Road, Windsor CA, 707-529-5459
1301 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-546-2466, http://dargenziowine.com
3100 Gravenstein Hwy. N, Sebastopol CA 95472, 707-823-3887, http://www.duttongoldfield.com
7606 Occidental Road, Sebastopol CA 95472, 707-829-2006, http://www.fogcrestvineyard.com
12707 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-433-7272, http://www.foppiano.com
10701 Westside Road, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-473-2909, http://www.garyfarrellwinery.com
3561 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol CA 95472, 707-823-3040, http://www.gratonridge.com
6050 Westside Road, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-433-6491, http://hkgwines.com
8075 Martinelli Road, Forestville CA 95436, 707-887-8030, http://www.hartfordwines.com
2192 Olivet Road, Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-573-8711, http://www.harvestmoonwinery.com
3900 Piner Road, Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-293-9576, http://www.inmanfamilywines.com
3360 Coffey Lane, Suite E, Santa Rosa CA 95403-1995, 707-237-4980, http://www.inspirationvineyards.com
9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol CA 95472, 707-887-1507, http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com
11447 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-431-5400 , http://www.jwine.com
12747 El Camino Bodega, Freestone CA 95472, 707-874-1010, http://www.josephphelps.com/
5007 Fulton Road, Fulton CA 95439, 707-571-8100, http://www.kj.com
123 4th Street, Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-623-9621, http://www.lostcanyonwinery.com
2191 Laguna Rd., Santa Rosa CA 95401, 707-823-2404, http://www.martinraywinery.com
3360 River Road, Windsor CA 95492, 707-525-0570, http://www.martinelliwinery.com
3291 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448, 888-884-1288, http://matrixwinery.com/
4901 Blank Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472, 707-823-0880
11650 Los Amigos Road, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-433-4032, http://merriamvineyards.com/
4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95403, 707-528-9463, http://www.prwinery.com
11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-431-1533 or 800-678-4763, http://www.rodneystrong.com
4401 Slusser Road, Windsor CA 95492, 707-237-3489, http://www.sonomacutrer.com
8075 Westside Road, Healdsburg CA 95448, 707-431-8031, http://www.thomasgeorgeestates.com