Most events that have the word “Pinot” in the name capture me and my attention.
Especially those close to home. Living in the mecca for great California Pinot Noir is no joke to us Pinot-philes. And what a wine mecca Sonoma County is.
With our cool climate hills, valleys and coastal ranges…those lucky Pinot grapes are as happy as our California cows.
Pinot on the River is popular to us locals and a great time to be had in Healdsburg for all. My thanks to FineMan PR and Toby Baird as well as Roadhouse Winery for the invite to a popular annual event for both locals and tourists alike.
Below is just a sampling (in no particular order) of some of my favorite wine stops along Pinot On The River Healdsburg. This annual event is a fun filled weekend of Pinot Noir, in the beautiful Russian River Valley town of Healdsburg, California held in early Fall.
Macphail Family Wines
Hand made, hand sorted, just like Pinot should be. The Macphail family and James Macphail, winemaker, have long time been a favorite of mine not only due to their awesome wine but also because of the people who are there.
As I always say, you can tell Sooo much about a wine simply from meeting the people behind the barrel. Stop by their new tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol and taste.
The tasting room staff, the great atmosphere and amazing pours of wine make for a fabulous afternoon in Sonoma County.
I love to start with the Rose’ a personal fave to pair with most any foods.
My faves from Macphail include: Gap’s Crown Chardonnay and Pinot, the Sangiacomo Pinot is a must for grilling. I am also quite attached to a few bottle I have left of the Sundawg and Rita’s Crown Pinot. Small Batch wines this good and it hard to choose just a few. If you have a chance, the terroir tasting is a winner!
From the Macphail website HERE: “…conscientious grape growers who rely on personal observation and meticulous care, the same disciplined attention to detail he exercises in the winery.
With the goal of making wine that speaks of a place and clearly expresses the character of the grape variety, James insists on slow handwork in the vineyard and wine cellar.
All fruit is picked and sorted by hand. Absolute minimal intervention is the foundation of winemaking at MacPhail.
James relies on native yeasts for fermentation. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally, without his introducing a culture.”
I had the pleaure of meeting Jack and tasting his lovely Rose bottle line up for the first time at this event. I had heard great things about Ousterhout from friends as far as San Francisco and close to home as well. Jack is a terrific guy and we had met “virtually” many moons ago so it was wonderful to meet in person. And don’t forget the fantastic and highly rated Zinfandel after you try the Rose’ wine.
Let me again mention passion behind the wine. A shared passion for the great wines of Alexander Valley that is. The 2011 Nance’s Vineyard Estate Zinfandel 95 points.
I really enjoyed the 2013 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir and the Woods Vineyard was also a treat. Like summer in a glass. My fave overall was the 800 Vines…a must try.
I look forward to meeting with them again soon and sitting down to taste & eat, merriment and all. And hospitality wise….although I stopped by and visited many wine friends along Pinot On The River, Jack was a smart one and hospitable as ever. He and sent me home with a lovely bottle of wine.
Soon to be posted: My Rose and Oyster pairing with Ousterhout Wine that evening was phenomenal.
Thanks to the wonderful Chef Tony at Sea Thai Bistro. Try their oyster line up soon… and don’t forget your bottle of Ousterhout Rose’.
From the Ousterhout website HERE: ” We use only the best fruit from exceptional vineyards, including Zinfandel from our Estate Vineyard in Healdsburg. In very limited quantities, we craft unique wines from Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, and Dry Creek Valley. Our wines are elegant and balanced with a distinctive Ousterhout style….
I first met Linda Kanzler when at a friends house and I had the opportunity to taste the Kanzler Pinot Noir that same evening. Let me just say that both Kanzler’s were awesome. Linda is a lovely woman and I had a blast with her and traveled the wine road that day for a Claypool Cellars Rose’ release party.
I have been a fan of the Kanzler brand ever since. Kosta Browne also makes a wonderful Kanzler vineyard Pinot as well as Lynmar Estate and as all of my followers know, I am a loyal fan of all of these wine brands.
When you are a fan of Pinot Noir, you tend to have a style that you favor and the fruit forward terroir driven wines that come from Kanzler, Lynmar and Kosta Browne all fit the bill for me.
The new winemaker and Linda’s son, Alex, I had the pleasure of meeting at this event for the first time. I look forward to visiting his vineyards soon for a tour now that spring has sprung. Alex has adopted the same winemaking style which specializes in growing and producing small lots of traditionally crafted Pinot Noir from exceptional vineyards. Not too shabby of an approach.
They are a small family run operation with vineyards purchased in 1993. Located in West Sonoma County Sebastopol, it is a great place to be a Pinot Noir grape.
From the Kanzler website HERE: “Our overall philosophy can be simply stated; great wine begins in great vineyards. That’s where it all starts, because it takes the very best grapes to make a great wine. So we take great care in choosing the fruit from which we make our wine, selecting specific rows and specific clones from each vineyard.”
La Follette Wines
Greg Rocks. Enough said.
But say more I will. Because I can’t say enough about how much I like these wines or the man behind them. And yes, I am aware that after paragraph two of this article, it became clear that I am Pinot paparazzi crazy. I live in Sonoma County, I was going to jump on the Pinot Noir bandwagon soon enough.
La Follette wines are about discovery. The discovery of terroir throughout Sonoma County using ancient wine-making techniques. When you visit their tasting room at The Barlow or arrange a tasting with Greg himself, you have a personal one-on-one experience.
They will take you on a wine journey when tasting by separately trying each vineyard and attempting to pick up the nuances of the soil and climate from each.
See if you can also get Greg to play the bagpipes…. he’s got an awesome set of lungs to match his equally awesome personality. I always enjoy visiting with him and make an appointment to be sure to meet the winemaker each time I visit.
My favorites are the Sangiacomo and the Van Der Kamp Vineyards but some years that changes too…. it is so fun to keep visiting each year for more tastings, I will leave it to you to try them all and choose your own fave. Enjoy!
From the La Follette website HERE: “At La Follette, we believe that science … when coupled with passion … can produce extraordinary art. Greg La Follette’s career is an excellent illustration of this. One of California’s most accomplished winemakers, La Follette has delved far more deeply than most into the science behind the art of winemaking. He also fosters a fervent fascination with old world winemaking techniques.”
Kobler Estate Winery
I first met the winemaker from Kobler when I was dropping off a bottle of Napa Cabernet to my neighbor. They were moving to a new home at the time and I helped them both.
Joe, my neighbor is the assistant winemaker at Duckhorn and of course, wine people love other wine people, I discovered that the other gentleman helping us was the winemaker at Kobler Estate Winery. It is terrific to discover a new brand in such a way.
I made an appointment once I met his brother Michael at Pinot On The River the following week. While sipping on the pours at the event, I chatted with Michael about the family history of the Kobler Estate and was hooked. We made an appointment and I visited the Healdsburg tasting room for a #SonomaChat later that month.
Kobler Tasting Room is more than hospitable and the personal one-one-one service you will receive, most likely from a member of the Kobler family is top notch. The pours matched the service. Wonderful fruit forward Pinot Noir line up from some outstanding vineyards.
Another fave of mine from the bottle line up was the 2013 Rose’ of Grenache, a terrific and crisp wine that would pair well with most foods and go beautifully with delicate seafoods. The rose’ was watermelon, low sugar, strawberry with some citrus for a crisp and refreshing finish.
Michael sent us home with a lovely bottle of 2012 Koble Estate Pinot Noir that evening. My favorite wineries are the ones who send me home with wine. Cheers to the Kobler family!
From the Kobler website HERE: “We specialize in Rhone and Burgundian varietals, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier. We craft vineyard and valley-designate wines in a style that focuses on delicate flavors with vivid, yet balanced, notes of fruit and spice.”