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Wines of the Russian River Valley

Vineyard25With over 15,000 acres planted to grapevines, there is a broad range of wines from the Russian River Valley. Cool-climate-loving varietals thrive here, and our Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in particular are renowned around the world. But other grapes that you may not expect also express themselves beautifully in our cooler region, providing unexpectedly bright and rich wines. So, sit back, relax and explore a few of the many wines of the Russian River Valley.

Chardonnay
“The Queen of White Wines”, Chardonnay is known for the Old World style of Chablis and the Cotes d’Or of Burgundy and the New World style reflected in the wines from warmer growing areas of California. Russian River Valley Chardonnays tend to split the difference. The wines usually show plenty of ripe fruit ranging from pear and apple to peach and nectarine, often with overtones of Meyer lemon. In the mouth they tend to be quite rich with the flavors echoing the aromas, but with enough bright acidity to keep them focused.

Pinot Noir
A difficult grape to grow, this native of the Burgundy region of France achieves greatness in only a handful of places worldwide, and the Russian River Valley is one of those places. Our Pinot-perfect climate combined with an amazing complexity of soil types, results in wines that reflect their individual sites but share a common thread. Aromas tend to be bright, focused fruit, ranging from wild strawberries and raspberries to red and black cherries. Notes of cola and baking spices are common. In the mouth they are rich and velvety, with their high degree of ripeness, kept in check by bright acidity.

Zinfandel
This heritage grape is widely planted throughout California. In the Russian River Valley new Zinfandel plantings have joined vines planted as early as the late 1800s. Our long, cool growing season allows Zinfandel to achieve superb levels of ripeness. Russian River Valley Zinfandel explodes with aromas of peak-of-season ripe blackberries and boysenberries, intermingled with plum and occasionally blueberry. Overtones of black pepper are also quite common. These wines maintain excellent levels of balance, appealing to both the hedonist and the classic wine drinker.

Merlot
Russian River Valley Merlot is often blended to enhance Sonoma County Merlots and Meritage blends. However, when bottled on its own, our Merlot shows its pedigree with deep plummy fruit, bright acidity, excellent balance, soft tannins and delicious flavors.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Our extended growing season allows Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve full ripeness but with less aggressive tannins than in warmer grape growing regions. Russian River Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is medium to full bodied, and exhibits ripe cassis, cherry and berry fruit with hints of eucalyptus and cedar.

Sauvignon Blanc
With our long, cool growing season, Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc enjoys the best of both worlds. The cool climate keeps the wine crisp and allows the natural character of cool climate Sauvignon Blanc to come through. Aromas of lemongrass and gooseberry are joined by tropical fruit overtones. This wine is also referred to as Fumé Blanc.

Syrah
The climate in the Russian River Valley is similar to that of the northern Rhone Valley of France, Syrah’s ancestral home, and our wines are stylistically similar to the wines from this region. Deep, rich ruby color is a hallmark of our Syrah, and the aromas are deep black fruit such as plums, black currants and wild berries with hints of leather, violets and occasionally licorice and black pepper. The flavors are rich, softly tannic, mouth filling and immensely satisfying.

Pinot Gris
Although a relative newcomer to the Russian River Valley, this white wine cousin of Pinot Noir is ideally suited to our climate. Russian River Valley produces Pinot Gris more like the rich wines of the Alsace region of France than the Pinot Grigios of Italy. Aromas of ripe apple and pear with slight floral notes are typical. In the mouth it will show little if any oak influence. Light to medium bodied with delicious flavors.

Gewurztraminer
A versatile grape, Russian River Valley Gewürztraminer can be smade into a completely dry Alsatian style wine, a sweet dessert wine or somewhere in between. In all cases, the aromas are beautiful with citrus blossoms, grapefruit, apricot and spice. On the palate, the wine’s peach characters are overlain with mineral notes, and for late harvest versions of this wine, a honeyed richness. Our Russian River acidity gives the wine a clean and crisp quality and extraordinary balance. Dry or even slightly sweet, Gewürztraminer makes an excellent companion to spicy foods, while Late Harvest Gewürztraminer is perfect with dessert.