Pinot Noir fans should take notice of the Pinot Classic, a multi-day celebration of Russian River Valley’s internationally acclaimed Pinot Noir taking place during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. The Classic’s events showcase the rugged beauty of this lovely destination and its hidden gems of world-class wines, local food and unmatched hospitality. Celebrating the Russian River Valley AVA, this exciting new event includes seminars, Passport to Pinot, and the highly anticipated Paulée Dinner.
The Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is located in the heart of Sonoma County, just fifty-five miles north of San Francisco and is the home of wineries renowned for their Pinot Noirs such as Benovia Winery, Dutton-Goldfield, Kosta Browne Winery, Merry Edwards Winery, and Williams Selyem.
So whether you’re interested in an educational seminar which includes a guided tasting, a two-day passport event where you will be welcomed at over 40 wineries as you drive throughout the region, or a special dinner paired with exquisite Pinot Noirs brought by winemakers and guests, this weekend can meet your needs (and in all three ways, if that’s the way you want to go).
Pinot Classic: The Events
Neighborhoods of the Russian River Valley Seminar
Saturday, May 24, from 10 am to 11:30 am at Fountaingrove Inn (101 Fountaingrove Parkway, Santa Rosa, 707-578-6101)
Hear from a distinguished panel of experts, guided by Guy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards, about the complexity of the Russian River Valley AVA by exploring three adjoining neighborhoods: the Middle Reach, Laguna Ridge and Green Valley. Winegrowers will talk about defining characteristics of the neighborhoods and present wines that demonstrate those characteristics. Go here for tickets which are $20 per person.
Passport to Pinot
Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25 from 11 am to 4 pm at wineries throughout the Valley
More than 40 wineries will participate in this barrel tasting weekend showcasing the vineyards and people that comprise the exceptional beauty of the Russian River Valley. Pinot Noir is the focus of the Passport to Pinot weekend but each winery will also have unique offerings including barrel tastings, futures purchases, vertical tastings, library wines, food pairings, artist demonstrations, vineyard tours, and live entertainment.
Participating wineries include Bucher Vineyard, C. Donatiello Winery, Christopher Creek Winery, Dutton Estate Winery, Dutton-Goldfield, Emeritus Vineyards, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, HKG Estate/Hop Kiln Vineyards, La Crema Winery, La Follette Wines, Lauterbach Cellars, Lost Canyon Winery, Mueller Winery, Sonoma-Cutrer, and VML Winery. Go here for tickets which are $65 per person, or $40 for Sunday-only tickets. (weekend tickets are $10 off if purchased by midnight on April 23)
Saturday, May 24 starting at 6 pm at DeLoach Vineyards (1791 Olivet Road, Santa Rosa, 707-526-9111)
An exclusive evening celebrating the wine, winemakers and growers of the famed Russian River Valley will inspire guests at the annual Paulée Dinner. The tradition of the original Paulées in Burgundy celebrated the conclusion of harvest where vintners would gather for a communal meal, bringing special bottles of wine to share. In the spirit of this tradition, vintners from the Russian River Valley will dig deep into their personal and private wine cellars to present their favorite Pinots and Chardonnays from the Russian River and beyond. Guests are also encouraged to bring a special bottle to share.
The Paulée begins with a winemaker reception followed by a delicious three-course plated meal. Attendees will experience a truly unique Russian River Valley evening under the stars with a Pinot-inspired menu prepared by Michou Cornu, Director of Cuisine and Hospitality at Boisset Family Estates. Host wineries include Arista Winery, Benovia Winery, C. Donatiello Winery, Hartford Family Winery, Kosta Browne Winery, Merry Edwards Winery, Thomas George Estates, Williams Selyem and more. Go here for tickets which are $250 per person.
For complete details on the Pinot Classic events, and to see the full list of wineries participating in Passport to Pinot and the Paulée Dinner, please go here.
The Pinot Classic: The Appellation
The Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is located in Sonoma County, where the seasonal fog and the nearby ocean give the appellation an uncommonly long growing season and creates ideal conditions for cool-climate-loving grape varieties, particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. RRV growers and vintners then craft these grapes into wines of uncommon depth and richness that still maintain their bright natural acidity.
Russian River Valley is named for the first non-natives to settle in Sonoma County: the Russians, who originally settled along the Sonoma coast at historic Fort Ross from 1812 to 1841. They found this region optimal to hunt sea otters for their furs and to provide food and staples for the Russian colonies in Alaska. Agriculture, including viticulture, was a primary goal in this endeavor and the fertile soils of the Russian River Valley provided a region apt for farming and sustaining their outposts.
During the 1830’s, the Russian settlers ventured farther southeast in search of more temperate agricultural regions and outposts were also established in the areas of Sebastopol, Graton and Freestone. The current era in Russian River Valley winemaking began in the 1960’s when Bob Sisson, the University of California Farm Advisor for Sonoma County, began urging local growers to turn their focus toward cool climate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Russian River Valley Winegrowers is a non-profit organization with nearly 300 members dedicated to maintaining the agricultural diversity of the Russian River Valley while preserving its natural resources and protecting its authentic farming heritage. In addition to hosting the Third Annual Passport to Pinot event, they will also be offering a Single Vineyard Night later this year (in November) which will bring the Russian River to San Francisco with more than 30 wineries and growers pouring single-vineyard wines from the Russian River Valley.