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Two Women Leading Different Iconic Russian River Valley Wine Estates In California Discuss Neighborhoods Concept

January 28, 2021

Forbes contributor Catherine Todd spoke with two leading female winemakers from the Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell Winery’s Theresa Heredia and Merry Edwards’ Heidi von de Mehden, about the concept of “neighborhoods,” while also tasting different wines from the 6 areas. As context, the idea to break up the Russian River into different neighborhoods became a hot topic conversation after results from a UC Davis study indicated “a commonality of elements found in wines” from each particular area.

Despite the fact that the idea of neighborhooods “could expand the idea of the range of the wines that the area can produce as a whole,” Todd writes that are are possible negative issues it can inflict as well.

Heredia believes the concept is a great and fun educational tool, adding “there are lots of questions from retailers and restaurant buyers who see this as a good way to explain the differences from various vineyards.” Continuing, “this is not a political movement,” and Heredia has no desire to create more sub-AVAs in the area. Von de Mehden originally had doubts about the concept, but got “interested in exploring the idea” after the UC Davis study came out.

From the educational mindset, there are often misconceptions from wine drinkers that have only tasted one or two Russian River Valley wines and categorize all wines in one limiting, or stereotypical way. It may turn consumers off before realizing the stylistic ranges found across region. “And so just simply talking about the neighborhoods in general, which is less overwhelming than getting to know each vineyard, can be a way to express the multitude of subtle variations across the Russian River without losing the idea that they all have a common core that connects them,” says Todd.

In total, 7 of the 12 wines tasted were single vineyard expressions from Gary Farrell Winery, including the 2017 Olivet Lane Chardonnay and 2017 Hallberg Vineyard Pinor Noir. The Chardonnay offers a “mineral nose, citrus blossom and peach pit with a honeysuckle finish,” whereas the Pinot Noir has an “aromatically complex nose of dried herbs, tobacco leaf and bright raspberry fruit that danced lightly on the palate with mouthwatering subtle fruit flavors.”

Read the article in full, as there are so many interesting takeaways! It can be found HERE

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Related Wines

    Gary Farrell Winery

    Gary Farrell Winery Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

    Russian River Valley, California

    Named for its previous owners, the 100-acre Hallberg Vineyard is today owned and managed by wine industry veterans including vineyard manager Kirk Lokka. Nestled in the Green Valley sub-appellation, the site enjoys refreshing daytime breezes and cool nighttime temperatures. The strong marine influence means less severe daily temperature shifts so the vines never completely shut down, producing fruit with deep, dark color, great structure, silky tannins, darker fruit flavors and earthy characteristics. This blend is a composition of many of the best blocks on this cool, foggy vineyard site, which include clones 667, 777, 828, Pommard and a mysterious “suitcase” selection.

    Gary Farrell Winery

    Gary Farrell Winery Olivet Lane Chardonnay 2017

    Russian River Valley, California

    Pellegrini’s Olivet Lane Vineyard was planted in 1975 to Wente selection on AXR rootstock. The vineyard sits on 65 acres of sloping bench land in the Santa Rosa Plain, in between the warmer Westside Road region and the cooler Green Valley,where warm summer days are moderated by cool breezes and chilly evening temperatures. The combination of low temperatures, regular fog intrusion and well drained loam, clay soils create an excellent environment for growing Chardonnay that develop cool-climate characteristics and impeccable acid at fairly low sugars.The wines from this vineyard simultaneously express power and finesse, and they do so with tremendous balance. 

Related Producers

    Gary Farrell Winery

    Russian River Valley, California

    For over 37 years, Gary Farrell Winery has crafted small-lot artisan wines capturing balance and stylistic elegance from some of the finest vineyard sites in the Russian River Valley. In 1985, Winemaker Gary Farrell released his 55 cases of 1982 Rochioli-Allen Pinot Noir to widespread critical acclaim. Since that release, the team at Gary Farrell Winery has consistently focused on rigorous vineyard selection, outstanding grower relationships, and superior quality fruit. For the past 8 years, the current owners have been dedicated to enhancing Gary Farrell’s legacy with a single-minded focus on quality.