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Pinot on the River Festival, October 24-26, Russian River Valley

Now is a wonderful time to be wandering around wine country. The harvest is mostly complete, so there's less chance of being hit by a wine truck, and while there's still a lot going on at wineries, things have faded from the manic atmosphere that pervaded the last four weeks at most places.

All of this means that as the afternoon sun angles low, life gets pretty idyllic on the wine roads around Sonoma, and the timing is good to relax with friends and a nice glass of wine. Which is why, I suppose, around this time of year we are treated to the opportunity to attend The Pinot on The River Festival , one of the more placid wine events all year.

Now in its fifth year of providing an intimate and casual way to enjoy some of the best Pinot Noirs from Sonoma pinot.festival.logo.jpgcounty and around the state, this festival is a great way to spend a weekend or even just a Sunday afternoon.

Held at Russian River Vineyards in Forestville, the festival begins with a dinner on Thursday, October 23rd, and continues for three days of seminars, field trips, and tastings during the day, followed by wine dinners at night. It concludes on Sunday with the walk-around Grand Tasting, where for four hours you can sample a wide variety of small production Pinot Noirs and chat with the winemakers and winery owners in a relaxed setting.

If you're interested in the wines that are poured at the event, you can check out my coverage from 2006. And here's the list of wineries pouring at this year's event.

Pinot on The River Festival
Friday Oct. 24th - Sunday Oct. 26th
Russian River Vineyards
5700 Gravenstein Hwy No. (Hwy 116)
Forestville, CA 95436
(707) 887.3344

There are still tickets available for the full weekend experience ($750). Tickets to the Sunday tasting only are $69 and should be bought at this site.

The last couple of years the weather has been absolutely beautiful for the tasting, which meant walking around in shirtsleeves, but it has the potential to be chilly, so if you're going, make sure to bring something to keep you warm if the fog sets in. Dress for the event is casual, and my usual tips for public tastings apply: wear dark clothes, come with a full stomach, and spit if you really want to enjoy the tasting.

Comments (3)

Harry wrote:
10.26.08 at 10:13 PM

Thanks for the tip on the Pinot festival. It was a blast, four hours today packed with terrific wines and people. I was impressed by quite a few of the new releases that I tried.
Black Kite wines were intense expressions of terroir, giving a fascinating choice between soil types within a single vineyard.
Tantera had several different personalities in their 06 lineup, and I as particularly taken by their Brosseau Vineyard bottling, which had delicious orange zest, iron and a hint of clove.
Pey vineyards had two (Marin and Lucia) very elegant and smooth wines, with subtle tannins to give sufficient grip, made with fantastic care and expense.
The most delicious plum fruits were found in Talley Vineyards wines, the Arroyo grande with hints of cinnamon and clove along with bing cherry, and the Stone Corral with its long smooth finish.
Sojurn Wines had a delicate grace, with much lighter color (I was almost shocked to see through the glass so easily) and spicy finesse. The Sangiacamo Vineyard was grew on me by the minute after minute the finish evolved on my palate. Their cab had similar finesse, with delicate spice and cedar lightly dusted over the rich complex fruits coating the tongue.
Littorai wines all had tremendous grace and restraint, a quality more noticeable as a rarity at the Pinot fest, and the terroir expressed in the Hirsh Vineyard (Sonoma), the Savoy Valley (Anderson), and the Roman Valley (Anderson) spoke to me clearly and invited me into the glass to explore more.
Freestone's pinots were also made with great respect for the terrior, and the 06 showed great fruit with impressive minerality and a well integrated acid proving a firm but graceful backbone that will allow this wine to elevate from very very good to great with a little patience.
There were many more great wines that I wished I had taken better notes for; Belle Glos, Hitching Post, Ahh Vineyards....

But I really appreciate your guiding me to the festival. The people were as much fun as the wines, and I had a blast.

Alder wrote:
10.27.08 at 8:40 AM


Thanks for taking the time to write such detailed comments. I was unable to attend the event this year.

Linda Lawson wrote:
01.12.09 at 6:51 PM

Alder, who is the right person to talk to about getting Curtis Lawson on the 2009 Blues Festival. My name is linda lawson (Blues Icon). 415-289-0541

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