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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.
2014 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.52, $25. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is inviting upon opening, offering aromas of Bing cherry, baking spices, and cola, but fades over time in the glass. The light to mid weight charge of Bing cherry fruit offers a modest attack and shallow mid palate depth, but finishes better than it enters with good length. The barrel treatment is conspicuous but not overbearing. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle, the oak was not more judiciously integrated, but the wine proved to be a good companion with food. Score: 88. Reviewed February 13, 2017 ARTICLE »
2014 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.55, $30. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is reserved initially, but opening over time in the glass, offering aromas and flavors of forestry cherry, dark red berry, spice and earthy flora. Silken in the mouth, with good lift, taught tannins, and a spirited finish featuring persistent cherry goodness. Score: 89. Reviewed February 13, 2017 ARTICLE »
2014 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.52, $45. Aged on the lees for 11 months with monthly battonage in French oak barrels, 36% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is sullen, offering only subtle aromas of black cherry, earth and oak. Somewhat monolithic on the mid weight plus palate with flavors of ripe black cherry, black raspberry and tobacco. The tannins are quite modest assisting the silky mouthfeel that is the wine’s best feature. The wine lacks a bit of acidic lift. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, oak had come to the forefront, but the seductive texture still stood out. It was challenging for me to predict the future of this wine based on its current withdrawn state. Score: 89-91. Reviewed February 13, 2017 ARTICLE »
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 »