Russian River Valley Wine Tasting

Last weekend my parents, aunt and uncle, and  Sam and I visited the Russian River Valley just north of San Francisco in Sonoma County for a day of wine tasting. We are incredibly spoiled to live just an hour away from the world-renowned wine producing regions of Napa and Sonoma. Though I’m no veteran wine aficionado, I have learned that a visit to Napa and Sonoma is not simply about the wine—-it is about the rolling hillsides, the knotted oaks, the great spreads of green grass, and the bright wildflowers. This is the terroir or the land, and in winemaking, the land plays an immensely important role in producing distinctive wines because it imparts subtle characteristics to the wine. To put it plainly: you can take the wine away from the land, but you can’t take the land out of the wine. Thus, in this post, I offer you not critiques of this or that wine or winery, but photos of the land from which these wines were wrought.

We visited four wineries:

  • Merry Edwards Winery (Owner/Founder Merry Edwards is one of the first female award-winning winemakers in the region; free tastings)
  • Iron Horse Vineyards (Specialize in sparkling wines; they have two tasting flights of 5 different sparkling wines)
  • Dutton Estate (This was the least interesting of the four, though their Pinot was well-liked)
  • Lynmar Estate (Lovely gardens, beautiful facility, pizza oven; make a mean Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)

    Iron Horse View

    View from the Iron Horse Winery.


These blackberries were growing outside a berry stand near the Iron Horse Winery. Makes me want to pick a handful and eat them with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.


Recognize this garden beauty? Yep, it's an artichoke. Seeing an artichoke begin to bloom was a special treat because usually I just see them on my dinner plate with their spikey, triangular arms tucked close to their body.

flowers 1

Check out these flowers! I love the green and purple colors on them and the interesting shape. Anybody know their name?


And here is the graceful Foxglove. When I was growing up in Washington, we treasured the few Foxgloves that would spring up on our property amidst the Fireweed. Fireweed were a nuisance and needed to be eradicated, but Foxgloves were like jewels.


The garden at Lynmar Estate was home to many varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs, such as these Mache salad greens. I've been reading so much about gardens lately, so it was fun to walk through an abundant garden.

pizza oven

Lynmar Estate also had their own outdoor pizza oven where they have pizza parties once a month. I told Sam I wanted an outdoor pizza oven for my 4oth birthday. Good thing he's still got many years to plan that one!

4 Thoughts on “Russian River Valley Wine Tasting

  1. Kassie on June 11, 2010 at 12:24 PM said:

    I LOVE your photos and stories!! Thanks so much for sharing!! :D

  2. Barbara Lounsbury on June 18, 2010 at 4:11 PM said:

    WOW! I am so impressed, Andrea, by your blog. You really captured the essense of the area and experience. Bravo!
    Aunt Barbara

    • andrealein on June 19, 2010 at 12:21 PM said:

      Thanks Aunt Barbara! It’s good to hear from someone who was on this excursion that the photos captured it well. :)

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