World class Pinot and Syrah; Russian Hill Estate

RussianHillLogoColor2014 started with a BANG! Last week our staff was able to taste the wines of the always stellar Russian Hill Estate. Check out the bottom of the post for our favorite Syrah and Pinot from the tasting.

Russian Hill Estate is a family owned and operated winery, located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. They use the utmost care from vineyard to bottle, Russian Hill is dedicated to the production of world-class Pinot Noir and Syrah. The key philosophy of the winery is to maintain the highest degree of excellence in viticultural and winemaking practices to allow wines to fully express the various vineyards that are their source.

RHE Tasting Room

Edward Gomez and Ellen Mack established Russian Hill in 1997 after a two-year intensive search for the appropriate site. It was imperative that the land be capable of producing outstanding estate vineyards but also allow for construction of a winery. Only by having full control of both the vineyard and wine production, did the team at Russian Hill feel they could produce wines of the quality they envisioned.

Cool coastal fog encroaches the vineyards surrounding Russian Hill

Russian Hill Estate’s search for the ideal location to grow world class Pinot noir and Syrah led us directly to the Russian River Valley where fog-cooled climate and rich alluvial soils provide the perfect conditions for growing Pinot noir and other “cool climate” grape varieties.

The Russian River winds its serpentine 110-mile course from Mendocino County to the Pacific Ocean at the Sonoma coastal town of Jenner, an approximate 30-minute drive west of Russian Hill Estate Winery. The Russian River Valley takes its name from the middle portion of the river as it passes through Sonoma County. Just east of the coastal hills, this is an area of maximal summer maritime incursion, producing foggy, cool mornings that give way to bright, sunny temperate days.

The cooling effect of the fog during summer daylight hours slows the ripening of the grapes resulting in longer “hang times” and, thereby, fuller flavor development. The combination of nighttime fog and daytime sunshine also results in large diurnal temperature differences, conditions which help grapes maintain their natural acidity producing wines with structure and the potential for aging.

The summer coastal fog enters the Russian River Valley from two directions. From the west, it comes through the coastal mountains up the course of the Russian River. The main fog incursion, however, is from the south through the Petaluma Wind Gap, a large opening in the coastal range that allows the fog to flow unimpeded through the central lowlands of Sonoma County, bathing the Russian River Valley from the southeast.  From the vantage point at Russian Hill Estate Winery, fog banks approach us from both directions and tends to surround us in a “u” shaped pattern to the east, south and west.

The wines of the Russian River Valley are increasingly recognized as among the best in the world and the appellation is often quoted as one of the top in the country. The “cool climate viticulture” conditions are perfect for growing certain wine grapes, especially Pinot noir and Chardonnay, and recent experience has also shown that “cool climate” Syrah is a distinctive wine unmatched by its warm climate counterpart. Russian Hill Estate Winery has found its perfect home.


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