One of the more obscure, yet enchanting wineries on Russian River Valley’s Westside Road is Thomas George Estates. Tucked on an inside bend on the narrow winding road, the wooded entrance is easy to pass and most challenging to turn back around to find. Hence, this was my first visit. And what a visit it was! I was literally in awe when I drove down the long gravel driveway, wondering why I hadn’t stopped here before.
Towering Redwoods stand at attention around the perimeter of the serene gardens, ablaze with roses and french lavender. Beyond the gardens you’ll find the infamous Thomas George Estates wine cave, dug deep under the hillside Baker Ridge Pinot Noir vineyard.
Once an old hop kiln in the 1920’s, wine pioneer Davis Bynum converted the historic grounds into a winery and planted Pinot Noir high on the ridge above the wine cave. When the estate was sold in 2008, all but two blocks of the legendary Bynum’s Pinot Noir was ripped out and replanted to new vines of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Grenache Noir. Rhone varietals, Grenache Blanc and Viognier, along with Zinfandel are sourced from their Chalk Hill vineyards, complimenting the tasting menu lineup.
The tasting room is fun and lively, especially with Josh DeLoach at the helm. Plan ahead to reserve a tasting in the wine cave or a private tour of the vineyards followed by a catered picnic and lots of wine, of course.
As a Pinotphile, I highly recommend the 2013 Thomas George Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, which is very representative of the Russian River Valley terroir, chocked full of blue fruit, black cherry and a dash of brown sugar.