For true Pinotphiles or Chardonnay lovers, Arista Winery‘s elevated wine tasting experience will surely surprise and delight. Set off Westside Road near Healdsburg in the Middle Reach of the bucolic Russian River Valley, the journey to the tasting room is awe-inspiring and magical at the same time as the private road gently bends and the vines seem to wave in the breeze.
A true family affair, Arista was founded by Al and Janis McWIlliams in 2002 and planted primarily to Pinot Noir. Today, sons Mark and Ben run the winery and oversee daily operations on the 36 acre estate. Arista’s winemaking philosophy is pretty simple. Less is more. Select Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are sourced from the highly touted Green Valley AVA, Olivet Lane, Ritchie Vineyard and the Mendocino Coast. Sustainable farming practices are employed with all grapes handpicked and gently processed with minimal handling. Production caps out around 5,500 cases yearly.
On a quiet weekday, the vibe at Arista is a mellow one, replete with organic gardens and multiple broods of American Heritage hens wandering the upper property. Weekends are another story however. Tastings are by appointment only and the A-List wine club is currently closed with a year long wait list.
Initially I was drawn to revisit Arista after reviewing Wine Spectator’s Annual Chardonnay Report (July 31, 2019 issue). Four of Arista‘s Chardonnays were rated 93 to 95 points and the estate Two Birds 2016 Pinot Noir was reviewed and awarded 93 points a few months later. (October 15, 2019 issue)
Curiosity set in. Happily, I had the pleasure of being hosted by Sommelier Kerry Anderson. Her depth of wine knowledge was really impressive and her personality was equally engaging. The tasting was artfully paired by Chef Timothy Kaulfer, with a sampling of premium Sonoma cheese and organic herbs from the estate garden.
Everything about Arista is over the top, and first class ~ from the wines, to the service, to the impeccably maintained Japanese gardens. Hopefully that wait list isn’t too long! www.aristawinery.com