Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Russian River getaway

February 16, 2013
motorcycling coleman valley road occidental

A belated post from our trip to the Russian River Valley at the end of January.

My mother has long claimed the best wines come from Russian River, a wine-producing region north of San Francisco. Closer to the coast and cooler than Sonoma and Napa, it's mostly known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We decided at the last minute to get out of town and booked an AirBnB cottage in Sebastopol, one of the corners of the Russian River Valley, along with Guerneville and Healdsburg. We could have driven straight up 101 and gotten there faster, but the Pacific Coast Highway is much more fun.

russian river valley vineyards
Once in Sebastopol, we stopped at two small wineries. The first, Taft Street Winery, got its start in Oakland in the 1970s. There wasn't much of a view, but the tasting room was nice, and we bought a bottle of Zinfandel. The pourer did a good job of talking up their 2010 Russian River Chardonnay, which they weren't sampling that day, so we're hoping to track that one down soon. We also learned the difference between primary and secondary (or malolactic) fermentation. All wine undergoes primary fermentation to convert the sugar into alcohol. With malolactic fermentation, malic acid is converted into lactic acid, which is richer than the tart-tasting malic acid. It is this malolactic fermentation that gives many California Chardonnays their buttery taste.

Then we drove up to Joseph Swan Vineyards, on the recommendation of a friend. It's a small family-owned winery and the tasting room is also where they barrel and bottle their wine. The tasting included one Pinot Gris, two Pinot Noirs, one Zinfandel and one Syrah. We bought a bottle of the 2010 CuveĆ© de  Trois Pinot Noir, which was the brighter and more acidic of the two we tried and one of their best-selling wines.

joseph swan vineyards tasting room
joseph swan vineyards pinot noir pinot gris
The next day we wanted to get in a nice long motorcycle ride, and luckily, we had rented a cottage from a Harley Davidson owner who has been riding in the area for 30 years. He recommended a route along Coleman Valley Road from Occidental over to the coast. The first part was a little bumpy for our tastes (as a passenger, poorly paved roads are pretty uncomfortable), but the view was nice riding up high in the hills.

motorcycling russian river valley roads

The real payoff, however: the giant expanse of ocean that materialized below us.
jenner route 1 california

We passed some sheep before we dead-ended at Route 1, at Sonoma Coast State Beach, where the waves were huge.

pacific coast highway sonoma coast state beach

The ride back to San Francisco from there is one of our favorites and we were happy to sit back (figuratively) and enjoy the scenery.

route 1 sonoma farms hills

map wine country sonoma california russian river

- Steph

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated before publishing. Comments with links (unless directly relevant to the post) will not be approved. No spam, please.