The Sonoma County appellation has approximately 60,000 acres of vineyards planted and is made up of fifteen different AVA's. This past weekend I spent a day in Northern Sonoma wine tasting with some friends. We started off at Iron Horse Vineyards in the Green Valley sub appellation within the Russian River Valley. Green Valley is one of the smallest appellations in Sonoma County. It lies in the southwestern part of the Russian River Valley. What makes Green Valley's special is its unique microclimate influenced by fog and its Goldridge soil type, which is highly sought after because of its great drainage properties and low soil fertility.
Iron Horse produces sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. The set up and grounds were beautiful. They have a bar set up outside on a hill over looking the vineyards. It was a very relaxed environment without too much traffic and the service was excellent. Our wine educator was calm, knowledgeable, and treated us great. We tasted through their sparkling flight and did a couple of their Native Yeast Chardonnays.
Of the six sparkling wines we tried, the 2010 Russian Cuvee and the 2011 Wedding Cuvee were my favorite. The Russian Cuvee is made of 69% Pinot Noir, 31% Chardonnay. It is the richest, most opulent of the Iron Horse bubblies with a lingering hint of sweetness balanced by solid acidity. The Russian Cuvee has an interesting story behind it. Iron Horse was comissioned by the White House to create a wine for the historic Reagan-Gorbachev summit meetings which ended the Cold War. This Cuvee is made in the same style of the one that was shared at the summit. This wine also received 90 points by the Wine Spectator. It retails for $42 and only 800 cases were made.
Iron Horse is also well known for its Wedding Cuvee which is made up of 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. It has a beautiful light pink color, fresh fruit aromas, and racy acid to back it up. This wine is very easy to enjoy which makes it versatile for many occasions. This wine retails for $44.
I enjoyed both the 2012 and 2013 Native Yeast Chardonnays but the 13 was my fav! On the ‘12 I got banana on the mid palate and the ’13 had aromas of pineapple and tasted like juicy fruit gum with some nice lingering acid. I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking to taste some high quality wines in the Sonoma area.
The next winery we visited was Lynmar Estates. They produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We tasted two Chards and several Pinots. Of the Pinots we tried the Quail Hill was my first choice and the Monastery was my second pick. Although we did not have lunch here the tasting area has a great set up for lunch with picnic tables, umbrellas, and a gorgeous garden.