exemplified in the Burgundy region of France.
Burgundy has its history, but Russian River
Valley has a unique quality of its own and a
market expectation for a perceived value.
The chardonnay grape, in the hands of
Russian River winemakers, produces a richness and purity of fruit flavors reminiscent of
Meyer lemons and nectarines, with a touch
of minerality and crisp acidity.
The fickle pinot noir can be fruity with
elegance and finesse. However, the various
soils within this appellation can produce varied styles, ranging from focused fruit notes of
strawberries and raspberries to intense red
or black cherries. You can also find a hint of
spice, cola and earthiness in these velvety
and rich wines.
Small amounts of rosé are also made from
the pinot noir grape. Rosé is made by reducing
the amount of contact between the juice and
the grape skins. These dry-style bottlings are
refreshing, with vibrant notes of strawberries.
While pinot noir and chardonnay steal
the show, Russian River Valley’s cool-climate
zinfandels are simply delicious. The zinfandel vineyards are planted in the warmer
northeast area of the valley. The long growing season results in claret-like zinfandels
with flavors of blackberry and boysenberry.
Planted in much smaller numbers are
medium- to full-bodied cabernet sauvignon
and pleasing, soft-tannin merlot. In limited
acreage, you can also find the high-acid sauvignon blanc, which exudes tropical notes
and flavors of gooseberry.
This is truly a beautiful and amazing
area. Next time you find yourself in Sonoma
County, I encourage you to take a drive and
visit one or two wineries in the valley. In the
meantime, stop by the fine wine department
at Costco, pick up a bottle of Russian River
Valley wine, relax and enjoy. Cheers! C
Annette Alvarez-Peters oversees Costco’s
beer, wine and spirits program.
JUNE 2014 ;e Costco Connection 53
By Annette Alvarez-Peters
IN THE HEART of Sonoma County, California,
lies one of my favorite wine appellations, the
Russian River Valley.
The area features stunning rolling hills, magnificent vineyards and a
scenic winding two-lane
road that showcases the
beauty of this lovely wine
country. Visitors have
many opportunities to
stop and explore wineries that excel in the production of chardonnay,
pinot noir and other popular varieties.
Russian River Valley received its
American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation in 1983. To become an AVA, an area or
region must be identified as having distinct
soils, climate and topography resulting in the
wines produced there having identifiable
regional characteristics. The Russian River
Valley, lying mostly within the Northern
Sonoma viticultural area, with the southern
tip extending into Green Valley, definitely
meets those requirements.
Warm days and cooling fog
The climate of Russian River Valley is per-
fectly suited for grape growing. The conditions
zinfandels are simply delicious. The zinfan-
are unique, with a constant stream of cooling
fog that comes directly off the Pacific Ocean,
just a few miles to the west. Fog normally
arrives in the evening, and it is not unusual for
the temperatures to plummet 30 to 40 degrees
below the daytime high. These cool conditions
allow the grapes to develop their flavors and
acids over the growing season.
A number of microclimates and soils
within this region allow for diversity in vine-
yard plantings. The slightly warmer area of
Middle Ranch, which butts up against the
Chalk Hill region, produces lovely cabernet
sauvignon and merlot. Santa Rosa Plains
produces a nice cool-climate zinfandel, partly
due to the fog, allowing for a longer hang
time for grapes to achieve perfect ripeness.
In the southwest lies Green Valley, one of
the coolest and smallest areas of the appella-
tion. This is where the fog first enters the val-
ley; chardonnay and pinot noir do extremely
Chardonnay and pinot noir are the king
and queen of the Russian River Valley and
make up the vast majority of plantings. The
wines made here are wonderful, and many
winemakers strive to achieve the greatness
Sonoma’s lovely valley produces
stunning California wines
Signature Series Chardonnay
Rodney Strong Pinot Noir
Frei Brothers Russian River
De Loach Pinot Noir
J Vineyards Cuvée 20 Brut
Featured at Costco
You’ll ;nd these ;ne Russian River
wines at select Costco locations: