The last weekend in June marked the third annual installation of the Passport to Russian River Valley, an event that sets the public loose on dozens of relatively remote wineries, many of which aren’t normally open to the public.
This year’s event took me to Benovia, Sonoma-Cutrer, Dutton Estate, and Inman Family Wines. Lots of fun to be had at each stop, including a memory ride to Sonoma-Cutrer’s “Pinot Barn,” where winemaker Mick Schroeter was on hand to talk about the company’s vineyard-desginated bottlings (while pouring 2014 samples direct from the barrel) and a lengthy chat with Kathleen Inman before posing for an on-site caricature. At Benovia we were treated to a tour and a lengthy, in-depth tasting of a variety of chardonnay and pinot noirs — the elegant 2012 Cohn Vineyard Pinot Noir being one of my favorite wines of the day — while Dutton paired each wine with a different morsel to eat (quite effectively, I should add).
The first day of the event ended at a memorable barbecue at Gail Ann’s Vineyard in the heart of Russian River Valley, headlined by a whole roast pig and a passel of locally-grown vegetables and capped off with a gorgeous sunset.
Lots of photos below. Hope to see you in the RRV in 2016!