Pinot on the River continues to draw the widest field of exceptional Pinot Noir producers on the west coast. The 2014 Wine Event WINNER “Best of Sonoma County”, Pinot On The River brought 100 of the best Pinot Noir producers together in a venue that could not be more wine country beautiful. The Healdsburg Plaza in October, just after harvest, this year is such a wonderful small town venue with that special feel of community. The presenting wines were highly allocated, limited-production Pinot Noir offerings that may be difficult to taste or even purchase elsewhere.
Co-founders and co-organizers Greg Walter (The Pinot Report) and Eric Hall (Roadhouse Winery) have, again, combined for this 11th annual event and the approximately 1500 participants appeared to be ecstatic. The weather was exceptional with sunshine, warmth and a slight breeze. The conditions could not have been much better in the surrounding environs of the Wine Road (Alexander Valley, Dry reek Valley and Russian River Valley)!
Copious amounts of cheese and crackers were constantly replenished by the organizers and their staff. Of course, there were numerous dining options before, during and after the event at the many restaurants surrounding the Plaza, a few of which set up pop-ups or trucks along one side of the plaza.
Artisanal wineries from around California and along the West Coast, including vintners from the Santa Cruz, Monterey, Sonoma, Napa Valley, Mendocino and Santa Barbara Counties, as well as the Willamette Valley in Oregon, participated. Perennial favorites appearing again this year included: Benovia Winery, Bruliam Wines, Failla Wines, Foursight Wines, Kanzler Vineyards, MacPhail, Patz & Hall, Pech Merle Winery, Siduri Wines, Small Vines Wines Walt Wines and Wrath. These Pinot Noir producers can always be counted upon to produce delightful, complex and well balanced Pinot Noir.
Especially noteworthy as new to Pinot on the River or just to good to ignore are:
Angel Camp began as a very poignant story of loss and life. The twelve acre vineyard is located in the ‘deep end’ of the Anderson Valley between the Navarro River and Highway 128. The vineyard was planted 8 years ago. The 2012 Russian River Valley was deliciously complex and beautifully crafted. The fairly low alcohol was 13.8%. Consulting winemaker Phillip Baxter has devoted his career to Pinot Noir and it shows. Angel Camp offers tasting by appointments only (707-479-7594) and is operated by proprietors Brian Zalaznick and Cindy Storm.
Bucher Vineyard is an off shoot of the Bucher Diary Farm which has been in operation for decades. The vineyard has evolved from only Pinot Noir to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and has historically sold its grapes to some very notable Sonoma County wineries like Williams Selyem, Siduri, Papapietro Perry, Arista, C. Donatiello, Thralls Family and others. The 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was noteworthy. Only 338 cases were produced of this 91 point (Wine Enthusiast) Pinot Noir.
DRNK Wines is a family partnership of the Dougherty-Kunde family. Dale Dougherty, Ryan Kunde (Winemaker and GM), Nancy C. Dougherty and Katie Kunde have teamed up in Sebastopol in the Russian River Valley AVA. Grapes are sourced from some of the best vineyards in the North Coast. The 2012 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir really set the standard for color and balance. This Pinot Noir can be held for a few years and it will just get better.
Thralls Family Cellars specializes in small lot production of hand-crafted wines from the most prestigious winegrowing regions in California. Winemaker Ed Thralls Jr. focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and produces less than 500 cases per vintage. The 2012 Thralls Pinot Noir Russian River Valley received 91 Points from the Wine Enthusiast. Contact Ed at 707.939.5580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Home base is in Santa Rosa, California.
Masút Vineyards & Winery, is the result of Ben and Jake Fetzer, sons of Bobby and Sheila Fetzer, honoring their father’s vision. They grew up on the Fetzer Home Ranch, developed by grandparents Barney and Kathleen Fetzer. “We learned that with hard, honest work and diligence, you can achieve your dreams,” says Jake. They produce about 2,000 cases of Estate Pinot Noir. You have to be quick as this liquid gold sells out fast. The winery and vineyards are located in the newly established Eagle Peak AVA in Mendocino County. They are just off Highway 101 two hours north of San Francisco. Jake and Ben offer private tours and wine tasting by appointment only. 707-485-5466 email@example.com
The best part of this event is that you can taste and learn about very limited production vintners whose case production is as small as 400 cases per year. Many of these wines are nearly impossible to find outside of this event. Near the conclusion of the event a check for $55,000 was presented by organizers Greg Walter and Eric Hall to the Central Sonoma County Boys and Girls Clubs, the sole financial beneficiary of this Fall Classic.