Tag: Russian River Valley

Sunce 2013 Cattich Vineyard Old Clone Zinfandel

Sunce Winery is a family-run business through and through. Husband and wife team Frane and Janae Franicevic have been working together for 26 vintages. With his winemaking abilities, her marketing skills, and their dual passion for turning great grapes into great wine, Sunce Winery receives consistent accolades year after year. While three out of four acres in their estate vineyard (called Zora after one of their three daughters) is planted to Pinot Noir, the family sources 39 different varietals from throughout California to create a full portfolio of wine offerings. In 2013 the family turned to the Russian River Valley — home to some of the oldest and boldest Zinfandel grapes. (more…)

Raeburn Winery 2016 Pinot Noir

Raeburn is a name you’ll see on the shelves of your local grocer — but did you know that the name Raeburn comes from an Olde English word meaning “the river where one goes to drink?” And so I think it is fitting that this Pinot Noir represents the Russian River Valley in my Pinot Noir style spectrum. Characterized by its cool, maritime climate that’s funneled in through the Petaluma Gap from the Pacific Ocean, the Russian River is an idyllic place for picky Pinot. The AVA is also home to some unique soil types, including the Goldridge Soil (volcanic rich soil), Sebastapol Soil (clay rich soil), as well as alluvial soils along the benchland — meaning the Russian River, itself, can have an interesting range of Pinot Noirs.

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Crux Winery 2012 GSM Red Blend

The boys at Crux Winery are loud and proud Rhone Rangers and, unlike the vast majority of their fellow troop members who’ve paved the path in Paso, these guys claim the Russian River Valley for their stomping grounds. As Rhone-style specialists it would be a crime not to include a GSM in the line-up. And, indeed, they do every year. I’ve tasted their 2013, helped them sort out their 2016, and let’s not forget their 2015 rosé of GSM — but let’s travel back in time to 2012, shall we, and see how these blends compare…

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Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel

I like prime numbers. A prime number is unbreakable — only divisible by itself and 1. Some may say they don’t play well with others; I say they’re strong enough to stand on their own. I find I have some kind of spiritual connection to prime numbers. We’re weird, we don’t fit into conventional puzzle pieces, a lot of people don’t “get” us, and even more people don’t even know what or who we are. We hide in plain sight and are the answer to “can you tell me which thing is not like the other?”

…I also find that meaningful things happen to me when I am a prime number age…

In 2011 — a prime year — the Russian River Valley experienced unconventional climatic conditions that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have worked. But it did — not for everyone, but for some vintners. And when I tasted the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel the first time I visited the boys in their warehouse winery, this was the wine I felt a deep, undeniably emotional connection to.

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Balletto 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

You may know the Balletto name well — it’s no stranger to the eye-level shelves at the local supermarket. But did you know that the Balletto family is a bit of a Sonoma success story? It all started when John Balletto left his budding college career behind to help his mother run the family’s 5-acre farm, following the unforeseen death of his uncle. Throughout the 80s and 90s, John focused on expanding the family business, purchasing additional parcels of land until the Balletto farm consisted of 700-plus acres planted to over 70 different vegetables. But when drought and other acts of nature threatened the farm, Balletto decided to focus his sights on grapes — a slightly less thirsty plant. Because of encouragement from friend and neighbor Warren Dutton (of Dutton-Goldfield Winery), the family already had 35 acres planted to vines and subsequently continued to convert all their vegetable-designated land to estate vineyards — primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (more…)