Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Saralee's Vineyard & the Russian River Valley

Having read about Saralee's Vineyard over a year ago, I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to visit during the Wine Blogging Conference. She's kind of a big deal in Sonoma County. Saralee greeted us and gave us the lay of the land and then handed us off to wine-makers Rod Berglund, and Daniel Moore to lead a hike. They both source grapes from Saralee. Daniel gets the coveted Roller Coaster Ridge Pinot Noir and Rod takes the Pinot Gris from Turkey Hill. Rod does loose some fruit to the wild turkeys if you were curious.

As we walked, Rod and Daniel talked about the local soil types, and the fog patterns that set the Russian River Valley AVA apart stating "fog is the one unifying factor." They also both talked at length about the controversial Gallo petition to expand the AVA. The Russian River Valley Winegrowers Association is taking no official stand on this matter, and I'm sure I don't blame them (*see Wine & Politics). A full write up on this petition before the TTB has been posted at Appellation America.

We were served a tasty spread including homegrown heirloom tomatoes (in homemade wine vinegar), homegrown figs, sandwiches and homemade aioli and mayo. Of course, both wine-makers poured us some of their wines as well.

As we enjoyed our lunch, Saralee came to our table and our Zephyr guide coaxed her into telling us (humbly) of her work volunteering with the student vineyard for El Molino High School. The students grow the grapes and local wineries take care of the vinification and sales. All the proceeds go back into the program. Last year, they sold 50 cases of their Lion's Pride label to the Bohemian Club which I thought was quite something. Some of us at the table were ready to re-enroll in high school! It's just really cool that kids in the valley have the opportunity to be immersed in the wine growing industry that surrounds their community.

image courtesy of Russian River Valley Winegrowers Foundation


john witherspoon said...

that top picture is beautiful. Nice write up B!

Dirty said...

Cool stuff on the High School's involvement growing grapes.

Somehow I don't think that we be approved of in the Dirty South!

Taster B said...

Thanks guys! :)

DS--Apparently, some peeps tried to squabble about the high schoolers doing this but, the good folks like Saralee Kunde put a stop to that nonsense by saying all the kids are doing in essence is farming. They don't touch the product after it leaves the vineyard so, it's cool man.

Diane Letulle said...

That was a beautiful hike. I also enjoyed the lunch, the wine, and our host Sara Lee. Nice write up! Diane

Taster B said...

Thanks Diane! It was fun talking with you at lunch and both wishing we could go to El Molino High!