by Nicha Jones
Deciding on how to maximize your Wine Fest in Northern California may be overwhelming and destabilizing, without a doubt. While a weekend jaunt is more preferable, it IS possible to do and see a lot in a shorter period of time. Recently, I had the honor of being able to hit up the Russian River for just one day, and was able to scope out three very different wine tasting experiences for your viewing pleasure.
This is my one-day itinerary for the best of Russian River.
It's refreshing to find a winery that doesn't accept big tour buses or vans these days. The wine industry has gotten so trendy that the ambiance of the tasting rooms have been dampened quite a bit. At Woodenhead, it feels as if you are visiting a friend’s house, who just happens to live on a beautiful plot of land. It's rather unassuming and low key, which is ideal if you’re looking for great wines in a casual setting. The wine menu is descriptive and colorfully written so that you know what you’re consuming throughout the tasting. Go the extra mile and order a glass at the end and sit out on the patio!
Scherrer has impressive reds and if you’re lucky, you may even catch the wine makers pouring on the weekends. It is one of the few family-owned places in the region that hasn’t sold out to any corporations (yet) and the grassroots vibe is felt. It’s not the most scenic winery if you’re looking for an uninterrupted landscape view, but the bottles definitely overcompensate. If you get the chance to try one of their Pinot Reserves, consider yourself lucky! This winery is situated on a small road, alongside what appears to be a bike path. Once inside, you’ll be surrounded by barrels of goodness -- all you have to do is grab a glass and get to work.
DUTTON GOLDFIELD WINERY
Upon walking into the tasting room, the aesthetic instantly feels more sophisticated. Though a bit less intimate than the previous two wineries, what it lacks in quaintness, this winery makes up for in quality wine. Though it's a bit more polished than I prefer, it was a nice place to finish off a long day of wine tasting, as they had a notable wine list and the staff was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. The pricing on their wines are reasonable if not inexpensive, depending on your taste. Almost everyone in our party walked away with a couple bottles.
I can’t wait to open one of them up in a few of weeks, when the time is right!