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This is one of those venerable long-standing labels you often see in the supermarket but pay little attention to if you are a die hard pinotphile. Times have changed, however, and this winery is producing Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that is both distinctive and value-priced. Rodney Strong, who founded the winery in 1959, was among the first modern wine pioneers in the Russian River Valley, planting his River East Vineyard in 1968. The winery was sold to Guinness and then bought by Tom Klein, a fourth generation California farmer, in 1989.
In the mid 2000s, the winery planted about 600 acres of new vineyards in Sonoma County and more than half of the company's wines come from estate vineyards. In 2006 a portion of the winery was dedicated to producing reserve wines including a reserve Pinot Noir. The winery has the largest solar instillation in the county. In 2009 Rodney Strong became the first winery in Sonoma County to become carbon neutral and is a strong promoter of green farming and business practices.
In 2007, Rodney Strong bought the Davis Bynum brand and launched Sonoma Vineyards.
The winemakers are Rick Sayre and Gary Patzwald and the viticulturist is Douglas McIlroy. Sayre celebrated 32 years as winemaker at Rodney Strong Vineyards in 2011.The Pinot Noir lineup includes an Estate Pinot Noir, a Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and a Reserve Jane's Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. The winery is focusing on the higher-end of the winery's portfolio, primarily its reserve and single-vineyard wines.
The tasting room on Old Redwood Highway is open daily. Winery tours are available. The wines are available on the website and distributed nationally.
2011 Rodney Strong Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.69, 808 cases, $40. One of the winery’s artisan wines. A selection of special lots created in the winery’s small lot winemaking facility under the direction of consulting winemaker David Ramey. Aged 13 months in 38% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. A Sweepstakes winning white wine at the 2013 Sonoma County Harvest Fair and the James Guymon Memorial Award winner. · Medium yellow-gold color and clear in the glass. Generous aromas of lemon, apple, white peach and toasty, buttery oak. Tasty core of lemon drop, pastry cream and green apple with a prominent riff of citrus-driven, steely acidity bringing up the finish. More acid-driven than many Russian River Valley Chardonnays. Score: 90. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »
2006 Rodney Strong Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $22 This is one of those venerable long-standing labels you often see in the supermarket but pay little attention to. Times have changed, and these two wines indicate that this winery is producing Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that is both distinctive and qualitatively outstanding. Rodney Strong was among the first modern wine pioneers in the Russian River Valley, planting his River East Vineyard in 1968. The current owner is Tom Klein. The winemakers are Rick Seyre and Gary Patzwald and the viticulturalist is Douglas Mcilroy. This wine is 97% Pinot Noir and 3% Syrah. · Rich, bright fruity perfume with lovely spice and cherry flavors, an oak sidecar, and a healthy tannic backbone. This wine will benefit from more time in the bottle. Reviewed --/--/--
2006 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $22. Rodney Strong is a very large producer of multiple varieties of wine from Sonoma County vineyards. The Pinot Noir program has been very impressive of late. The accomplished winemaker is Rick Sayre. 3% Syrah. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color. Demure red cherry perfume with subtle oak aromas. Appealing bolt of red cherry fruit on entry. Refined and persistent in the mouth with fine-grain tannins and a slightly dry finish. I would be perfectly happy with this wine at dinner. A Reserve is also available at $35. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Rodney Strong Reserve Jane’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45. The grapes are from a more recent planting of Pinot Noir in honor of owner Tom Klein’s mother. · A veritable spice cabinet in the nose along with crushed cherries and a hint of toast. Nicely weighted and balanced, this easy drinker has plenty of spiced cherry, clove and oak flavors with a tart finish. Reviewed December 16, 2007 ARTICLE »
2004 Rodney Strong Reserve Jane’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $34. This wine is a barrel selection from the finest blocks in Jane’s Vineyard. · Green pepper and oak overtake the core of red berry and cherry fruit. Unusually plentiful tannins for a four-year-old wine. Lacks richness and nuance. I prefer the regular Rodney Strong Estate bottling at half the price. Reviewed January 1, 2009 ARTICLE »