Disclosure: I was provided a Media Pass for the Russian River Passport Weekend. All opinions are my own.
With over 550 Wineries within Sonoma County, often times, there are certain areas and regions that I don’t get to as nearly often as I’d like to. One such case is the Russian River Wine Appellation.
But after partaking in a full weekend of Wine Tasting within this area during the annual Russian River Passport Weekend, I have a feeling I will be frequenting more often.
Needless to say, during the weekend (June 27-28) I found some new GEMS and favorites along the way, and learned fast, the magic that happens along the Russian River Appellation.
Some of my favorites included:
Acorn Winery: Alegria Vineyards:
I started the weekend off at Acorn Vineyards, and I am so glad I did. With Betsy and Bill Nachbaur behind the Estate, they made sure to accommodate and greet their guests as they entered their property. Often times, walking us through the wines, and answering any questions we may have.
Betsy and Bill purchased the property in 1990, and one thing they did differently was decide to KEEP the Vineyards that were already on the property and build upon them. They started off selling the grapes on their property, but in 1994, they decided to try their hand in making their own wine. Their first release came along in 1996 with their Sangiovese, and have now expanded to have 7 different varietals, including many peoples favorite: The Medley (a combination of ALL the GRAPES from their property!)
This property is ALWAYS available for Appointments Only, but it’s truly worth a visit.
For me, there’s always one wine I struggle with drinking: The Merlot. But, now and again, I will run across a winery that tends to surprise me. A winery that makes the Merlot so smooth, that I can actually drink it, but also appreciate how well it was made.
This was exactly the case at Merriam Vineyards.
MacRostie Winery & V ineyards:
This past February, MacRostie opened up their brand new property off of Westside Road in Healdsburg, and let me tell you, this property is stunning. With no wine involved, a visit to this winery is needed for the views alone, but then you add in the wine.
As another local mentioned later Saturday evening, to her, MacRostie, is still making the same wines that she remembered drinking years ago, and has kept the taste of what she first loved about those wines from the beginning.
And one thing, that MacRostie excels at is also what the Russian River is fast becoming well known for: their Pinot Noirs.
Russian River Vineyards:
Every time I visit Russian River Vineyards, I always catch something new to look at. The first time, it was all about experiencing Corks Restaurant, located right on the property.
This time, however, it was experiencing their wines, but not only that, in their backyard. They’ve truly turned this property into a place where you want to spend time outdoors, enjoy a glass of wine, and people watch all around you.
Thomas George Estates:
This place left an impression on me, and it started with their beautiful grounds. From the tables in very scenic areas, it made me want to spend an afternoon there. Grab your favorite picnic basket, your friend or loved one, and spend some time here. Because, the grounds were simply stunning:
As you walk up to this Winery, the absolute first thing you will notice are the steps leading up to the property. Beautiful succelents growing in between the steps will inspire you to do the same thing in your own home, but then you walk inside.
And the next thing you notice are the beautiful artwork found on the labels at VML Winery. Labels designed by husband of Virginia Marie Lambrix.
But, first, you must taste the beauty of their Chardonnay’s and Pinot Noirs, where their heart and passions truly lie.
For me, when it comes to barrel tastings, I am not always the biggest fan. Because, the wines in the barrels, are always a bit too raw, a bit too young, and a bit too fresh. But, you know a winery is pretty dang special, when you grab a taste straight from the barrel, and you like it.
For me, Balletto Vineyards, has that touch, especially for the year 2014. As I tasted through their barrels during passport weekend, I was truly impressed, and look forward to coming back a few months down the road, after the wines have aged a bit more.
HKG Estate, Hop Kiln Vineyards:
For many, coming to Hop Kiln Vineyards is an annual tradition. With great picnic grounds, to an extraordinary gift shop within, it’s truly a GREAT place to spend an afternoon at.
And Many Many Others still left to be discovered… there’s only so much you can get to in one weekend!
One thing I can say from this Passport Weekend is that the Russian River is a truly diverse region with a lot of GEMS found along the way. The perfect place to grab a picnic basket, and stop off at a favorite new winery for a fun afternoon amongst friends or loved ones.
The other thing I can say is that 2014 is shaping up to be an extraordinary winemaking year for the region. From what I tasted out of the barrels, 2014 just may be shaping up to be an even better year than 2012. (and 2012 was quite a year!)