On my recent trip to San Francisco to visit my little sister and her newly expanded family, we took a day trip to Sonoma to visit two properties in the Foley-Sonoma portfolio: Chalk Hill Estate Winery and Roth Estate Winery. Roth Estate Winery was our second tasting stop as it is conveniently located a stones throw down the road from Chalk Hill in Healdsburg, Sonoma County. (For more on Chalk Hill click here). Even though both of these wineries are owned by the same vintner, Bill Foley, there are stark contrasts to the tasting experience they offer. Roth is the more laid back, hip little sister to the more upscale and elegant Chalk Hill. Roth has been making highly acclaimed, affordable wines since 2001 and has been led by winemaker John Martin, who has worked at several Foley family properties, since 2017. Bordeaux varietals from the Alexander Valley AVA as well as cool climate varietals from the Sonoma Coast AVA are produced.
The architecture of the tasting room at Roth lends itself to the casual, relaxing feel that runs through Sonoma. It is surrounded by a large patio filled with comfortable seating perfect for groups of six to eight people, as well as your typical outdoor games. Cornhole anyone? We had the run of the place when we arrived and we were able to snag a prime table with an umbrella to block the mid-day heat. Outside food is allowed here and my friends brought a fantastic meat and cheese platter to share. Since my sister is a member of the Foley-Sonoma wine club, four of us were able to try their Reserve tasting for no charge. For non-members the cost of this tasting is $30 but is waived with a bottle purchase, the majority of which cost less than $50.
The wines in the Reserve tasting were:
2017 Russian River Valley Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc
2015 Russian River Valley Reserve Chardonnay
2016 Trenton Road Vineyard Pinot Noir
2016 Smokey Ridge Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Two bonus pours at the end of the tasting included the 2016 Red Blend and the 2016 Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The pacing of the tasting was great until we were ready for the bonus pours. The winery became extremely busy towards the end of our visit and we were told to come inside to the salon to receive our last pours. There was very little space to stand and the staff looked overwhelmed so I wasn’t able to get much information on the last two bonus reds. The standout wines for me during my visit to Roth Estate were the whites. As I have mentioned in previous posts I am not the biggest fan of Sauvignon Blanc unless it’s from New Zealand or the Loire Valley in France. That being said I really enjoyed the 2017 RRV Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc! There is some Sémillon added which may account for why I liked it so much. Zippy, with amazing acidity, it was the perfect wine to begin the tasting with. My other favorite in the lineup was the 2015 Russian River Valley Reserve Chardonnay. I purchased a bottle to drink the following night during our Catan marathon.
I am a huge Chardonnay fan, gravitating to many types from New World versions to Chablis, to Champagne, and Blanc de Blancs, oak aged or non-oak aged! I love the Chardonnay grape! The 2015 Russian River Valley Reserve Chardonnay is a very drinkable, everyday Chard. Pale gold in the glass with medium body and great acidity. On the nose are aromas of lemon and pineapple while the palette has flavors of creamy lemon curd with baking spices on the finish. This Chardonnay is 14.5% alcohol and only 190 cases are produced. This does have some oak aging but I wouldn’t say it’s overly prevalent for those who don’t like that style.
Overall we had an enjoyable visit to Roth Estate Winery. We enjoyed the wines, time with our friends and family, and the scenic views of the surrounding vines. I would like to go back for another visit to tour the cave as well as taste their Pinot Gris and Syrah. As I finalize this post, fires are raging across California impacting hundreds of thousands of people. The number of evacuees and structures being threatened are mind blowing. Many wineries, including Roth are closed. Soda Rock Winery and Field Stone Winery have been destroyed in Sonoma. I am completely in awe of the brave firefighters who are working around the clock to save lives and property. They are true heroes. My thoughts are with those effected and I hope these horrible fires are extinguished soon.