Russian River valley recommendations

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markjchambers
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Russian River valley recommendations

#1 Post by markjchambers » October 22nd, 2019, 6:28 pm

I'll be in Sonoma for 3 days in November. I know there's a ton of info on Sonoma here and I've looked at a lot of it. It is overwhelming. There is so much to see and do and it's hard to narrow down the choices. I have stuff planned around Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, but I'd like to spend a day driving down the RRV. Can't see it all in one day, but I'd like to hit some high spots and have a nice dinner in the Valley. Not Single Thread nice, but nice. I think Arista is a must do, but I'd also like to find some small "off the beaten path" places, too.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#2 Post by ClydeUnderwood » October 22nd, 2019, 11:31 pm

Well since you mention Arista, you'll be on Westside Road. So the obvious idea would be to take River Road west from Hwy 101 north of Santa Rosa then go north on Wohler Road up to Westside Road. Westside Road goes north all the way up to Healdsburg. This is almost always a gorgeous drive.

North of Arista are Rochioli, Bacigalupi and Flowers. Where Westside Road turns east towards Healdsburg there is the new Walt/Baca tasting room which I can vouch is excellent. Right before Walt/Baca the Madrona Manor Inn has an excellent restaurant.

South of Arista are Farmhouse Inn (another excellent restaurant, at the corner of River Road and Wohler Road), Martinelli and Fogline (both off of River Road). Vintner's Inn just west of Hwy 101 and River Road has the excellent John Ash restaurant.

None of these wineries are particularly "off the beaten path", but since you'll be driving to Arista maybe others can suggest smaller places off this route.

Driving the route in reverse, from Healdsburg down to Santa Rosa, may be better since the restaurants at the Farmhouse Inn and Vintner's Inn would be towards the end of the drive.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#3 Post by Jeff_M. » October 23rd, 2019, 6:12 am

Limerick Lane is a good stop in RRV.
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Brian Tuite
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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#4 Post by Brian Tuite » October 23rd, 2019, 6:38 am

Down Westside Rd from Arista you can find Porter Creek which pretty much flies under the radar.

Dinner ops:
Forestville - Canetti Roadhouse Italiana - Authentic Tuscan comfort food (Tuna of Chianti appetizer. Trust me!)
Santa Rosa (west side ) - Walter Hansel Bistro - Still our go-to restaurant (Confit Duck Gizzard Salad is amazing)
Guerneville - Boon Eat + Drink - If you're driving along the river. Great food, a bit more casual (hipster) but worth it.
Jenner - Rivers End - Sunset on the Coast
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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#5 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » October 23rd, 2019, 6:56 am

A nice drive that will take you through much of the valley might be to start from Healdsburg and take Westside Road all the way down to Hacienda. A few miles south of Arista on Westside Road is Porter Creek. Gary Farrell a little further down is also nice.
At Hacienda you could turn left and cross the bridge to head east on River Road for about a mile before turning right on Martinelli Road, which will take you past Jackass Hill vineyard, which is a cool site to see. Off Martinelli Road is Hartford Family, which is well worth a visit.
At the end of Martinelli Road turn left onto 116 and drive South towards Graton. Lots of wineries on this route worth visiting but I particularly like Merry Edwards. Don’t miss the pastries at Pascaline on your way (though I’m not sure how abundant their supply would be by this point in the day - the kouign-amann are to die for).
You could stop for lunch at the Underwood Bistro in Graton if you did this drive in reverse.
Turn left on Guerneville Road (this is a little before Merry Edwards and Graton, though not inconveniently so) and then left again on Olivet or Willowside Road, and right on Piner. Benovia off Piner Road could be a good stop. I will say that the Guerneville-Piner Road section of this drive is less pretty than the rest. Some of these wineries will require reservations, others not.

Anyway, just some ideas!
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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#6 Post by David Baum » October 23rd, 2019, 7:52 am

Lots of great suggestions and to echo two of the best Porter Creek and Merry Edwards are great stops and both you can just pop in. If Paul at Porter Creek is still around he'll out drink you and entertain you as well.

One more I'd add if you can get an appointment (they don't do many) is Dehlinger.

Lastly expect very Un Napalike experiences. The tasting rooms are not architectural masterpieces and Porter Creek is actually a shed. What you'll get in RRV is great wines in a down to earth authentic setting with real people. I envy that Brian gets to live there. Very special place indeed.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#7 Post by Sean Devaney » October 23rd, 2019, 8:28 am

Echo the recs for Porter Creek. Joseph Swan is always a must stop for me and Woodenhead makes some wonderful wines that fly under the radar and are just a couple minutes away. Have a great time.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#8 Post by markjchambers » October 23rd, 2019, 9:35 am

Thanks so much for the info. This is exactly what I was looking for. And I would rather taste in a barn versus a place that looks like a fancy hotel lobby, so Porter is on the list.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#9 Post by Chris Seiber » October 23rd, 2019, 9:40 am

Hartford is a beautiful little spot, with good wines and very nice hospitality, though in a bit more of a formal and wine tourist way rather than a wine geek way. Very good wines, too.

Copain has a gorgeous setting, and the visit is a great combination of wines that will interest the wine geek and the AFWE, yet a posh setting and attentive service.

Limerick Lane has great wines, and a basic walk-in counter type of visit, though a friendly one as those go. I imagine you could set up something more extensive if you wanted.

Since you mentioned barns, the downtown Healdsburg tasting room of Holdredge is a fun little basic stop, good pinots. If you can meet John Holdredge there, he's quite a fun character.
Last edited by Chris Seiber on October 23rd, 2019, 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#10 Post by Michael Klein » October 23rd, 2019, 9:43 am

Sean Devaney wrote:
October 23rd, 2019, 8:28 am
Echo the recs for Porter Creek. Joseph Swan is always a must stop for me and Woodenhead makes some wonderful wines that fly under the radar and are just a couple minutes away. Have a great time.
dont give away our secrets!!!

in all seriousness - there is no where that feels more genuinely RRV than visiting Joseph Swan.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#11 Post by GregT » October 23rd, 2019, 9:58 am

South of Arista are Farmhouse Inn (another excellent restaurant, at the corner of River Road and Wohler Road), Martinelli and Fogline (both off of River Road).
Go to Fogline, one of my new faves. He has Syrah from the highest vineyard in Sonoma County, some good Pinot Noirs and really good and very interesting Chardonnays. He likes a more earthy style and the wines are not as slick as some. Very good stuff and a casual, friendly place. And relatively new in the overall scheme of things, only about ten years old or so.
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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#12 Post by Clayton Wai-Poi » October 23rd, 2019, 11:28 am

Lots of good reco here. My highlights from a few trips through the area:
Williams Selyem (think you may need to be on list, although not sure it has a waiting list anymore)

Joseph Swan - old school, great value, rustic experience

Rochioli - think they only taste their entry level wines but still worth a visit

Littorai - a little further south but a great visit, albeit expensive

Wesmar - in an industrial estate. Cool experience, great wines, good value.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#13 Post by Tom Lee » October 23rd, 2019, 12:06 pm

If the weather cooperates it does not get much better sitting on the back deck at Rochioli, overlooking the stunning vineyard, and drinking a bottle you bought in their tasting room. We usually bring some snacks to accompany the wine.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#14 Post by Brian Tuite » October 23rd, 2019, 3:23 pm

David Baum wrote:
October 23rd, 2019, 7:52 am


I envy that Brian gets to live there. Very special place indeed.
It’s not up there with freezing your appendages off in Philly but it’s close.
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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#15 Post by David Baum » October 23rd, 2019, 3:48 pm

LOL I’m just happy I’ve got ac in San Diego this week. Supposed to be 90+ at the beach tomorrow. Philly is indeed a great place to be "from"

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#16 Post by Richard Jen » October 23rd, 2019, 4:47 pm

Brian Tuite wrote:
October 23rd, 2019, 6:38 am
Down Westside Rd from Arista you can find Porter Creek which pretty much flies under the radar.

Dinner ops:
Forestville - Canetti Roadhouse Italiana - Authentic Tuscan comfort food (Tuna of Chianti appetizer. Trust me!)
Santa Rosa (west side ) - Walter Hansel Bistro - Still our go-to restaurant (Confit Duck Gizzard Salad is amazing)
Guerneville - Boon Eat + Drink - If you're driving along the river. Great food, a bit more casual (hipster) but worth it.
Jenner - Rivers End - Sunset on the Coast
+1 Walter Hansel Bistro!

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#17 Post by Karl K » October 24th, 2019, 4:03 am

+1 Joseph Swan
K a z a k s

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#18 Post by Tom DeBiase » October 24th, 2019, 7:23 am

I can't believe Scherrer has not been mentioned. Call for an appointment and enjoy the range of wines that Fred makes. Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, plus a couple of Rose.

Plus you get to talk to one of the most knowledgeable winemakers out there who can talk about the winemaking AND farming practices.

Tom

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#19 Post by David Baum » October 24th, 2019, 8:49 am

Probably not mentioned because don't think he does them this time of year. As one man show he's very busy

He does do an open house one weekend (11/22-11/24 this year) in November but other than that no go

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#20 Post by Brian Tuite » October 24th, 2019, 9:21 am

Tom DeBiase wrote:
October 24th, 2019, 7:23 am
I can't believe Scherrer has not been mentioned. Call for an appointment and enjoy the range of wines that Fred makes. Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, plus a couple of Rose.

Plus you get to talk to one of the most knowledgeable winemakers out there who can talk about the winemaking AND farming practices.

Tom
He was going to be in the Westside Rd area and wanted to follow the river so I didn’t suggest anything but.
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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#21 Post by dave kammerer » October 24th, 2019, 9:30 am

+1 on Scherrer, one of the very best tasting experiences we have ever had. all of the wines were excellent and fairly priced.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#22 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 24th, 2019, 12:08 pm

I would definitely want to taste through the Walter Hansel lineup.

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#23 Post by David Baum » October 25th, 2019, 11:03 am

Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 24th, 2019, 12:08 pm
I would definitely want to taste through the Walter Hansel lineup.
Can you elaborate

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Re: Russian River valley recommendations

#24 Post by markjchambers » October 25th, 2019, 11:28 am

I already have a reservation at Walter Hansel's restaurant. Looking forward to it.

But… I'm not sure how things will be in 3-4 weeks. It's hard to get detailed information about the fires here in the mid-West, but the fire thread on this board said Geyserville has been evacuated and that is just a few miles north of Healdsburg. I guess the RRV would less likely to burn versus other areas. Hopefully the fire will be contained soon.

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