Beyond Napa: The Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley is an AVA in Sonoma County that receives less press and tourists than other winemaking regions, making it a perfect destination for those in the know. There are 70 wineries and more than 15,000 vineyard acres planted in the Russian River Valley.
Located closer to the cooling breezes of the ocean, this region is famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Winding roads take you past small towns, meandering rivers,redwood groves,and wineries both big and small. While warm during the day, the cooling fog rolls in during the evening. Here are a few wineries you should visit, each with its own unique tasting experience:
J Vineyards makes some of California’s best sparkling wines. Winemaker and owner Judy Jordan, of Jordan Winery fame, has been producing Brut and Brut Rose sparkling wines from estate-grown grapes for 25 years. Tasting room experiences range from the Tasting Room Bar to the Bubble Room (reservation required),which is a full-service tasting salon with hors d’oeuvres. If time permits, take the winery tour to learn about Methode Champenoise winemaking.
Rodney Strong Vineyards is one of Sonoma County’s oldest wineries. They have embraced sustainable farming and operating practices. Their wines are designed to let the fruit express itself in their wines without intervention. You can learn more about Rodney Strong wines on a formal or self-guided tour. During summer months they host a concert series. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Inman Family Vineyard uses grapes exclusively from the Russian River to craft their delicious wines. Best known for their Pinot Noirs, and it only takes one taste to know why. Schedule a private appointment for a tasting and vineyard tour with winemaker/owner Kathleen Inman. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The original owners of the DeLoach Vineyards were early pioneers in the Russian River Valley. The winery is now owned by the Boissetfamily of Burgundy. Relax with a glass of wine in the picturesque courtyard, bring a picnic to enjoy outside, or purchase a ready-made picnic from their store. You can enjoy a food-and-wine pairing of chef-prepared appetizers with five of their premium wines on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m.(reservations required—ellens @ deloachvineyards.com). Tasting room hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The Boon Hotel + Spa in Guerneville got its inspiration from a Balinese resort.The property includes 14 eco-chic rooms, a hot tub hidden among foliage, and a saline pool surrounded by teak furniture. Rooms are designed for your comfort, and organic cotton sheets, fluffy robes, and environmentally correct products provide a taste of luxury.
Boon Eat + Drink is a modern California bistro for fresh, tasty fare made from farm-fresh local ingredients. You can sample Russian River wines and local micro-brewed beer here.