Revel In Woodenhead’s Terroir-Driven Pinot Noir & Zinfandel

IMG_9889

Woodenhead‘s tasting room is somewhat tucked away on River Road in the Russian River Valley, yet once discovered, it will become a favorite haunt.  Commanding views atop the hill rival the extensive array of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel on the ever-changing tasting menu.

IMG_9904

The funky, dimly lit tasting room resembles a mountain chalet, complete with big raw hewn beams, a massive stone fireplace and an inviting outdoor deck that boasts one of the best views in the valley.

nick320vWinemaker, Nikolai Stetz spins a very Burgundian twist on the handcrafted Pinot Noirs, showcasing the unique terroir from Mendocino, Russian River and Anderson Valley.

” Our wine is handcrafted from a hard labor of love in tune to the natural rhythm of the land, the water, the air, and the seasons.  Small and unique lots are our goal, ultra premium wine is the result.”

 

Continue reading

Hooray to Korbel Champagne Cellars For The Red, White & Sparkling!

IMG_1442

The birth of Korbel Champagne Cellars dates back to the early 1880’s when the three Czechoslovakian Korbel brothers from the province of Bohemia, started off making cigar boxes in San Francisco, which later transitioned into a sawmill and dairy farm in the storied Russian River Valley near Guerneville.

StoryPhotos_01

Trying their hand at winemaking and being somewhat successful, the Korbel’s produced 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of wine and experimenting with various grape varietals such as Pinot Noir.  By 1892, the Korbel brothers were officially in the burgeoning wine business.

StoryPhotos_02

 It was during this time that the Korbel’s sent for winemaker Frank Hasek in Prague to come to the United States to be their champagne master. Employing the time-honored French method of producing champagne, méthode champenoise,…  www.korbel.com

IMG_1455

Prohibition took its toll on many wineries in the 1920’s with forced closures.  Korbel Champagne Cellars was able to survive due to the brothers’ other business ventures.  In 1954 the winery was purchased by family friend, Adolph Heck, who was credited for patenting an automatic riddling process which was vital to the business, enabling the champagne bottles to be turned at precise moments during the fermentation process.   Continue reading

Battaglini Winery Touts “Viti Vecchie, Vini Buono”

IMG_0239Italians have a wonderful saying, “Viti Vecchie, Vini Buono” which translates to “Old Vines, Great Wine.” This is certainly the case at Russian River Valley’s Battaglini Winery off Piner Road. Unassuming at best, it’s easy to pass the driveway on the windy country road mistaking the Battaglini Winery as another of the area’s old farmhouses with colorful red outbuildings and antique lawn art.

IMG_0244

Being an Italian wine aficionado, I ventured down the gravel lane.  Giuseppe,, aka Joe, Battaglini, sauntered out to unlock the tasting shed for me on a rainy winter’s day following the 2016 Winter Wineland  weekend festivities.   Joe warmly welcomed me to Battaglini Winery and invited me to taste his award-winning wines.

IMG_0243

Ribbons were proudly strung across the back wall and photographs of Italy adorned the walls.  Quite a bit of history in this tiny rustic tasting room!  Roots run deep, literally speaking, on this old homestead.

shapeimage_8 Giuseppe and his wife Lucia, immigrated from Italy to  California in 1956, seeking a similar Italian lifestyle amongst the vines.

The original owner and vintner,  Bartholomew Lagomarsino, also an Italian immigrant, planted Zinfandel and Petite Sirah in 1885 on this very site.

Today, the 1885 vines still flourish and produce incredible full-bodied Zinfandel and Petit Sirah, which have become the Battaglini Winery flagship wines.  In addition, the vineyards are planted to Chardonnay.

IMG_0251

For a truly authentico experience, stop by for a game of bocce and a glass of Old Vine Zin!  www.battagliniwines.com

 

Syrah is King at Rusack Vineyards

IMG_0528

Ballard Canyon AVA is no longer a well-kept secret.  As a matter of fact, my recent travels took me along the winding backcountry roads to Rusack Vineyards.  The oak-studded rolling hills and dramatic backdrop was ideal for my quest for the perfect Ballard Canyon Syrah and a dose of much-needed serenity.

IMG_0516

Unpretentious and inviting, Rusack Vineyards‘ tasting room was a welcome sight, as it is one of the few tasting rooms in the pristine Ballard Canyon.

geoff-alison-rusackIn the mid-1990’s, Geof and Alison Rusack  purchased the legendary 48 acre property, previously known as Ballard Canyon Winery.

Seventeen acres were planted primarily  with Syrah.  Alongside the Syrah are smaller blocks of Bordeaux varietals ~ Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Petite Sirah, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are planted on the couples’  Santa Catalina Island vineyard, El Rancho Escondido.

Continue reading

Ballard Canyon’s Harrison-Clarke Winery’s Syrah Is Bedazzling!

IMG_0454

Calling all California Syrah lovers…  Ballard Canyon AVA, near Santa Ynez, is an eclectic treasure trove of artisan Syrah and Rhone varietal producers.   Part of the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA, this sleepy enclave is relatively unknown to the throngs of visitors as the mainstream tasting rooms are in downtown Los Olivos.

IMG_0461The scenery alone will take your breath away.  On recommendation from a San Diego winemaker, I contacted Harrison-Clarke Winery for a personal tour and tasting in February.  Co-owner Roger Harrison was kind enough to guide us on an in-depth walking tour of the vineyards.

IMG_0463

Harrison-Clarke Winery is situated on 12 acres, planted to Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier.  Neighboring vineyards include Beckman and Stolpman who also produce amazing Rhone varietals.   Interestingly, the week of our visit, many of the original Syrah vines had been grafted to a Spanish clone of Mourvedre for a wider spectrum of varietals.   Continue reading

Wilson Winery of Dry Creek Surpasses All Expectations!!!

IMG_0044

Just because you perceive something a certain way, doesn’t make it true.  Thank goodness!  Exploring the Dry Creek Canyon road in all it’s glory after much rain during the 2016 Winter Wineland festival, I decided to stop at Wilson Winery.

IMG_0022

Admittedly, the Wilson Winery roadside facade was truly understated and I have driven by it often over the years. The allure to visit the Dry Creek winery was to confirm the scuttlebutt heard at nearly every winery by fellow winery employees throughout the valley.  Who was this Diane Wilson, woman winemaker extraordinaire?  My curiosity and love of Dry Creek’s big bold reds got the better of me but not before I rounded the corner…

IMG_0025

Lo and behold, stood a magnificent wolf iron sculpture standing guard to the entry to Wilson Winery, probably howling at the moon in elation after tasting the decadent estate Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon!  Continue reading

Pinot Noir & Tapas at Marimar Torres Family Vineyards – Ole!

IMG_0333

Certainly worthy of the trek to the far reaches of the famed Green Valley AVA near Sebastopol is the Marimar Torres Family Vineyards, perched high atop a vineyard-studded hill.

54a3289f3bf83.imageWind your way up the long driveway to the lovely Spanish inspired tasting room and you’re likely to meet the legendary Marimar Torres herself.  Always by her side are her beloved Springer Spaniels, Chico and Bonita, who are on hand to greet guests and pose for photos.

Marimar paved the way in the late 1980s for other women wine makers to be recognized.   Her pioneering and determined spirit was unwelcome in the primarily male-dominated wine making industry at the time.  Today, however, Marimar is held in high regard in the Russian River Valley wine industry and has earned numerous awards for her stellar Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

IMG_0294

True to Marimar’s Spanish heritage, the vineyards are organically farmed and the grapes are hand-picked, which allows the unique Russian River Valley terroir to be expressed in every glass.  Continue reading