Monday, December 29, 2008

Cozy Winery in the Russian River Valley

It was cold outside. When my group walked into the tasting room at C. Donatiello Winery they immediately gravitated to the leather chairs in front of the fire place. They would have been content to just stare at the fire, but Pinot Noir and Chardonnay awaited them.

C. Donatiello is a lovely new winery on Westside Road, southwest of Healdsburg, in the Russian River Valley. The winery focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the grapes that made the Russian River Valley famous. Not only can you taste an array of wines in the cozy tasting room, but you can also stroll through the surrounding organic aroma gardens. Plants in the garden represent the flavors and aromas associated with Pinot and Chardonnay.

During the summer, C. Donatiello hosts a number of events, including concerts by well-known musicians. You can here the likes of Booker T. Jones while picnicking on the terrace next to the aroma garden. Space is extremely limited, so check the winery's website for a list of upcoming events.

The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

If you would like to take a private tour of the Russian River that includes a visit to C. Donatiello, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winetasting During the Holidays

Many tasting rooms operate on different schedules during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's. If you are planning on doing some winetasting in Northern California during the holidays, you might want to call your favorite wineries in advance to make sure their tasting rooms will be open. If that's too much work, here's some general guidance.

Most wineries will open and close at their regular times each day from December 21 through January 3, except on December 24, 25, and 31 and on January 1. A few of the small wineries will close for a few days during this period.

Most wineries will close early on Christmas Eve and a few will be closed entirely. After 2:00 p.m., there are very few tasting rooms open on December 24. Wineries also may decide to close earlier than planned if business is slow.

All tasting rooms are closed on Christmas Day.

Most wineries will close early on New Year's Eve; although some will stay open until their regular closing times. After 2:00 p.m., definitely call prior to visiting a tasting room to see if it is open.

Only a handful of wineries are open on New Year's Day. I know that Nicholson Ranch near Carneros and V. Sattui in Napa are open, but I am sure there are a few more. Phone ahead of your visit to confirm if the tasting room will be open.

If you would like to take a private wine country during the holidays or in 2009, please feel free to phone me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here. Blue Heron will be closed on both Christmas and New Year's Day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

2 for 1 in the Russian River Valley

One tasting room, two wineries. That's what you'll find when you visit Balletto Winery and Dutton-Goldfield Winery.

John Balletto has been farming for over 30 years; first vegetables and now grapes. In 2001, the family began making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from grapes they grew. Since then, they have expanded their vineyards to approximately 400 acres and added Zinfandel, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Syrah to their portfolio of wines. The family continues to sell most of their grapes to some of the area's top wineries.

Dutton-Goldfield Winery makes wine at Balletto Winery and pours their wines in the same tasting room. The winery was founded in 1998 by Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield. Steve and his family manage over 1,000 acres of vineyard. Dan's passion is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which he first made at La Crema and then at Hartford Court, before moving on to Dutton-Goldfield.

When you visit the Balletto and Dutton-Goldfield Tasting Room, you will be able to sample current releases from both of these small producers. Friendly staff will guide you through one or both winery's wines. The tasting room is located at 5700 Occidental Road, just west of Santa Rosa and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

If you would like to take a private tour of the Russian River Valley that includes a visit to the Balletto and Dutton-Goldfield Tasting Room, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.