Russian River Vineyards and Winery is a historic property dating back to 1890. It is tucked away between the forested hills in the heart of Russian River Valley. The original winemaking facility was constructed in 1969 in the style of a traditional hop kiln and later abandoned. In 2008, four investors banded together to restore the property. Giovanni Balistreri (Gio) was one of the co-founders and is their lead winemaker. As a Sonoma County native, Gio grew up around wine and farming. He was influenced by the planting of Pinot Noir with his father in the Freestone region of Sonoma County. Later he honed his skills with a hands-on approach in the vineyard and cellar.
18 Russian River Vineyards, Peterson Vineyard, Stainless Steel. Chardonnay: A charming rendition of an unoaked Chardonnay with juicy Fuji apples, spiced pear and white flower blossoms It is very floral, straightforward and immediately appealing.
17 Russian River Vineyards Judy’s Block Dijon Clone 828: Delicate ruby in appearance, this is like biting into a savory red raspberry tart. It is built on finesse, rather than power with crème de cassis and crushed strawberries. It is seductive and savory at the same time.
Gary was an early pioneer in Russian River, having worked alongside Joe Rochioli and Tom Dehlinger. His efforts with Davis Bynum brought him recognition. He pursued his own label in 1982. Gary made his reputation with single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Halberg, Rochioli, Bacigalupi and Westside Farms. Bill Price, managing partner of Kistler Vineyards and Three Sticks, and the famed Durell and Gap's Crown Vineyards, now owns the brand with the talented Theresa Heredia guiding its future.
17 Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay:The pale yellow color is bolstered by a core of pie crust, lemon curd and an assortment of spices. It is exuberant with bright acidity and stony minerality. This Burgundian-styled wine is early in it’s evolution and is destined for a long life.
16 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir:In the Green Valley AVA, this compact and full bodied Pinot Noir expresses itself with richness and a purity of fruit throughout. There are elements of loamy earth intertwined with thyme and dark Oolong tea. This youthful wine expresses itself with precision and complexity.
At age 17, John Balletto took over of his family’s farming business upon the sudden death of his father. On the recommendation of Warren Dutton, John transitioned to grape growing, owning 850 acres of estate-grown vineyards in Russian River. Balletto reserves the best for his own label, selling fruit to other top producers. He’ll admit, ”there’s not a piece of property that I don’t like.” John Balletto and winemaker Anthony Beckman confess to an unhealthy obsession in making great wine.
14 Brut Rose´:This Balletto estate sparkling wine is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay: The pale salmon color has inviting floral notes of warm toast and raspberry foam. This serious rose´ opens with stone cherry fruits, candied Meyer lemon and refreshing minerality It is well suited for most foods.
17 Sexton Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir: I have always been fond of Balletto’s Sexton Hill single estate vineyard. which is situated in the Sebastopol Hills neighborhood. A shy ruby color opens with red violets and spring flower aromas. Delicate amounts of kirsch and dried flowers make up the core. More feminine and elegant in it’s personality.
16 J Winery Eastside Knoll Vineyard Pinot Noir; Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock admits"showcasing the different expressions of Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley is one of her favorite challenges as winemaker." This sexy wine has deep brooding fruit of black plum, black raspberry and mulberry, yet it shows it's elegance at the same time.The silky middle lingers for minutes. An impressive effort.
17 Landmark Lorenzo’s Vineyard Chardonnay: Aromas of Bosc pear, zesty lemon and apricot reveal a complex Chardonnay with a unique balance of cream and elegance. It finishes refreshing and long. Perry Miroballi
17 Christopher Creek Estate Pinot Noir:Ruby with lush black and purple berry undertones. It brings back memories of grandma’s baked black cherry pie oozing from all edges. It remains silky throughout with fine grainy tannins and minerals in the finish.
German immigrant Henry Castens bought acreage in the late 1800’s on a wooded lot. Saralee and Richard Kundee planted the Russian River vineyard in 1989, as it was later expanded to 200 acres. When Jess Jackson bought this property in 1993, he recruited famed winemaker Dan Goldfield. Now, Craig McAllister is at the helm. La Crema has established a prominent place in restaurants and on retail
17 La Crema Russian River Valley Chardonnay:
This is a classically styled Russian River Chardonnay with a perfume of bright honeysuckle and lemon zest. It is very forward on the palate with clean,freshly picked apples and star fruits tempered with hints of yellow citrus at the end. Immediately enjoyable.
17 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir:A dense purple entry is followed by a bouquet of black cherry, allspice and loam. There are ripe mixed berries in the core with hints of earth and crushed rocks. The tannins are textured and silky. Perry Miroballi
As a former Army cryptographer in Italy, Steve MacRostie experienced European wines first-hand. After returning, he abandoned his pursuit of medicine for a degree in enology. In 1974, he was appointed winemaker for Sonoma’s Hacienda Winery. By 1987, MacRostie’s calling led him to establish his own winery. Now four decades later he continues to focus on mastering cool climate varietals throughout Sonoma. Today, winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen crafts 15-20 single-vineyard wines.
17 Thale's Vineyard Pinot Noir:Farmed from a vineyard named after Steve MacRostie’s wife. The delicate ruby color opens with a restrained nose of dried rose petals. There are fresh cranberry and pomegranate notes mixed with hints of underbrush, making this an intriguing wine.
17 Kent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay:This Wente Clone Chardonnay vineyard has been managed by Kent Ritchie for 40 years. The light straw yellow color is an open invitation to generous proportions of spiced pear, lemon meringue and white stone minerality in the core. It is well balanced throughout, finishing with a freshness and vibrancy.