Ep 082 – Russian River Valley

This episode starts a series focused on California wine regions. We spent most of the summer learning about wines from Europe and now we are looking to explore wines from the state that produces about 85% of US wine, and we’re starting with the Russian River Valley.


The Russian River Valley is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Sonoma County, California. There are more than a million acres of land within Sonoma and the region produces twice as many grapes as Napa. With such a diverse landscape, it’s difficult to make generalizations about the region so we are going to focus on just one of its 12 AVAs.


This week’s episode we discuss:

  • Where is Russian River Valley and what’s its impact?
  • History of wine in the region
  • Climate and geography in the Russian River Valley and its impact on the grapes grown
  • What to expect from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the Russian River Valley


Wine Recommendations:

Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – priced around $20. This wine is definitely a bridge between what you would expect from California and Burgundy style Chardonnay. This wine has a beautiful lemon color with aromas of baked apple and a touch of baking spice and reminds me of fall.
It’s medium bodied with quite a bit of acidity so pair it with food like soft/young cheeses and dishes with cream or butter sauces. We experienced flavors of baked apples, almost like apple pie with a nuttiness to it. The malolatic fermentation is evident in the smooth and creamy texture. The oak flavors are there but it’s not heavy handed – there’s a real finesse to the wine.


Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014 – priced around $18. This wine has aromas of cherry cola, star anise, and dusty earth. Beautiful balanced wine with medium body and medium acidity. It tasted so savory, with flavors of mushrooms and smooth, soft tannins that gave us a velvet texture on the tongue. This wine can pair with all kinds of food, especially with mushroom or meaty dishes, or enjoyed on its own just sipping.


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Let us know you wine recommendations and thoughts on this episode in the comment section below. Cheers!




About Betty Notto

Betty Notto is a wine lover based in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. She is the co-creator and co-host of Weekly Wine Show Podcast. Find her out in the interwebs via Twitter @weeklywineshow @bettynotto