Known as the Gravenstein Highway to the locals, California State Route 116 gently meanders along the Russian River from the shores of Jenner through Guerneville, past Forestville and Graton, ending in North Sebastopol. Once a mecca for Gravenstein apples in the 1930’s, less than a square mile of orchards remain, outpaced and out priced by the value of the almighty grape crop. For a mini wine tasting tour down the infamous Gravenstein Highway, read on…
In sleepy Forestville, Joseph Jewell Wines is sure to please the most discriminating Pinot Noir or Chardonnay palate. Winemakers Micah Joseph Wirth and Adrian Jewell Manspeaker have it dialed in with their artisan Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from six designated single vineyards. Specialized tours are offered, including a helicopter tour over the vineyards.
Take a slight right turn off Gravenstein Highway to Ross Road to find Ektimo Vineyards. Not much tasting room ambience, but tasting room manager, Julius Orth and their variety of wines are sure to entertain ~ Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Chardonnay, Russian River Pinot, Zinfandel and a Cabernet plus a few other surprises, like a barrel tasting. Ektimo Vineyards operates a custom crush pad and winemaking facility as well, so there’s plenty going on here.
Dutton Estate is always welcoming, and pairs incredible small bites with their fabulous line up of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Joe & Tracy Dutton are hands on, carrying on the tradition of the family’s sixth generation as farmers in Sonoma County. With over 1200 acres of grapes and 200 acres of apples, there’s always something to harvest. A fairly new venture is Dutton Estate‘s hard apple cider, which has been well-received. Recently their eldest daughter, Kyndall has taken the reign as the Brand Ambassador and assistant to Tracy in the winery.
A short jaunt down Gravenstein Highway is the Dutton Goldfield tasting room, featuring handcrafted Reisling, Gewurtztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah by wine grower Steve Dutton and winemaker Dan Goldfield. The perfect winning combination! Grapes are sourced from Green Valley, the Russian River Valley, Marin County, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley. Dutton Goldfield offers unique wine tasting experiences such as Wine and Sushi, Vineyard Personalities Exploration, Beast and Pinot,and a traditional Wine and Cheese pairing.
Be ready to be pampered at Emeritus Vineyards at the end of the day at the infamous Hallberg Ranch site just north of Sebastopol. Once a sprawling 115 acre apple orchard, the Hallberg Ranch is now renown for its silky, elegant Green Valley Pinot Noir. Sitting at 200 feet above sea level, this vineyard is entirely dry farmed. Lack of irrigation heightens the balance in the wine, giving way to the unique characteristics of the Goldridge sandy loam underlain with the Sebastopol sandy loam clay.
As a side note, to the delight of fellow oenophiles, Emeritus Vineyards Pinot Noir clones include 4, 5, 37, 115, 459, 667, 777, 828, Cuz, Elite and Hyde. Emeritus Vineyards hosts an amazing seated tasting, which is both educational and thought-provoking with a dedicated wine guide.