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Dehlinger Winery

Owner(s) Carole Dehlinger, Tom Dehlinger
Web site www.dehlingerwinery.com
 
Link to this site
Dehlinger Winery

Dehlinger is one of those labels which has turned out consistently marvelous wines for over 30 years, but with no marketing, a modest web presence and even lack of phone number on the label, only the most devoted followers have a clue.

Dehlinger Winery is located in the heart of its 45 acre vineyard on a ridge of red gravelly soil in Sonoma County's cool Russian River Valley. The influence of maritime fog from the Pacific Ocean 13 miles to the West, creates a climate favorable for hillside grape growing.

Dehlinger was started by University California Davis trained enologist Tom Dehlinger and his wife Carole with the planting of the initial 14 acres of vineyard in 1975 on the site of an old apple orchard. Tom was a former pre-med student and trained enologist with job experience at Beringer, Hanzell and Dry Creek Vineyard. There were only 35 wineries in Sonoma County when he applied to get his winery bond.

The first vintages were made from purchased Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel grapes from other Sonoma County vineyards. From the start, however, the goal was to be an estate winery, and the emphasis has been on limited production, hand-crafted, barrel-aged wines.

The property had the reputation for having the earliest apples in Sebastopol, an indicator of good land. Tom planted red grapes in the red Altamont soil that was more or less in the hillsides, and white grapes in white soil.

Tom and his brother built the now-iconic Octagon House at the top of a hill overlooking the estate vineyard that initially consisted of 14 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, the latter long since removed.

With the passage of time and the planting and maturing of all of available acreage, the focus entirely on Estate Grown wines. Annual production averages 7,000 cases. Wines produced are Estate Bottled Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon and tiny amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. A portion of the grapes are sold to other wineries as well.

Besides owner-operators Tom and Carole Dehlinger, the staff includes veteran vineyard manager Martin Hedlund who has been at Dehlinger since 1988, and a year-round vineyard crew of five. Tom Klassen has the position of enologist. In June of 2008 daughters Carmen and Eva Dehlinger came back to Sonoma County to work at the family business: Carmen in customer service and sales, Eva in operations and winemaking.

Dehlinger Winery has a national reputation among wine connoisseurs that outstrips its physical size. Critical publications have consistently given strong reviews for close to thirty years. Wine writers have praised the winery for its uniqueness, quality, consistency and value. The winery engages in no expensive promotion or publicity so that prices remain reasonable.

Over three quarters of Dehlinger wines are sold through a mailing list, with small amounts placed in top restaurants and a few wine shops. Sign up for the mailing list on the website. The winery ran an active tasting room from 1980 through 1996, but the demands of hospitality and the vineyard and cellar work forced them to close and sell their wines directly through newsletters. From January to August, tours and tasting is available by appointment (707-823-2378). Usually some wines are available to visitors for sale. There is a fall and spring Open House. A newsletter is released in January and July. Each January 1 to 5, library wines are offered for sale on the website.

Reviewed Wines

2010 Dehlinger Altamont Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 570 cases, $60. Yields on the estate’s 16 acres were very low in 2010. A combination of 20-year-old and 30-year-old vines. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of fresh crushed Bing cherries and baking spices draw you into the glass. Remarkable fullness of sappy, black cherry flavor on the middle palate with hints of cola and spice, carrying over to a generous, fruit-filled finish. Despite its concentration and structural bones, the wine is light on its feet and a delight to drink. The velvety soft texture is of the type that drives Pinot lovers mad. Beautifully composed and seamless in every way. Score: 96. Reviewed August 14, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Dehlinger Estate Bottled Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.9% alc., $37. · Golden straw color in the glass. Primarily oak-driven aromas of toast, fresh brioche, and brown butter with a hint of yeastiness. Richly flavored with a core of apple, baked pear, lemon, toffee, and roasted nuts. Relatively low in acid, finishing dry with a bit of heat. Good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Dehlinger Altamont Vineyard Old Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 325 cases, $60. From the original 1975 hillside planting (Pommard, Martini and Swan clones), and the 1982 Octagon planting (Swan clone). Yield was 1.5 tons per acre. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of fresh dark cherries, strawberries and raspberries with a hint of baking spice and a trace of oak. Nicely flavored with a moderately rich core of dark red cherries, red plums and raspberries with a touch of sandalwood, cola and savory herbs in the background. The peacock tail finish is memorable, still evident the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This wine shows better balance than the High Plains and has more potential for aging. Very good (+). Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Dehlinger High Plains Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.4% alc., $60. From the highest ground of the 1989 planting. Usually these grapes are included in the Estate blends or Reserve bottling. 96% Pommard and 4% Swan clone. Yields were 1.25 tons per acre. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruit aromas featuring Bing cherries with a hint of spice and seasoned oak. Rich, long and plush, with copious amounts of black cherry and black raspberry fruit with a sidekick of oak vanillin and cola. The bombastic sap is very seductive and persists on the dry finish which has healthy tannins and a bit of heat. Retasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit veered to the dark (over ripe) side. Good for its style. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $45. Sourced from sections of the estate vineyard where the vines are planted on deeper soils causing the vines to be more vigorous. The resulting wines take on a red fruit character and an approachable structure. 100% de-stemmed, punched down by hand, aged in the winery’s underground cellar. · Alluring scent of Bing cherries and baking spices that holds up nicely over time in the glass. Discreetly concentrated array of delicious red cherries, strawberries and red currants on the palate, fanning out in waves to reach a pleasing finish that makes you want to take another sip. Beautifully composed and thoroughly harmonious, this crowd pleaser is highly approachable now but will perform well for ten years. This is a wine to buy by the case, but you must be on the mailing list. Eva Dehlinger, who has taken over the winemaking chores from Tom Dehlinger since 2007, is continuing the excellence of this cherished and iconic producer. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 1,340 cases, $45.Unfined and unfiltered. · Slightly confected black cherry and black raspberry aromas with hints of pepper and a jolt of cardamon spice. Primarily cherry-driven, discreetly rich with nice finesse, and exhibiting a soft mouth feel. Still needs some time to integrate the oak fully, but hard to resist now. Very good. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Dehlinger Estate Bottled Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., $48. · Moderate reddishpurple hue in the glass. Lovely perfume of black cherries, black raspberries, and seasonal fall spices. Mouth coating fruit core that grabs hold and made even more charming by gossamer tannins and a slippery, refined mouth feel. Nice accents of cola and spice. This wine has plenty of fruit charisma and will find many fans. An iconic winery that keeps doing its thing very well. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Dehlinger Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $33. · Pale yellow with the slightest haze (unfiltered). Demure perfume of honeysuckle, lemon zest and riverbed. Discreetly rich flavors of white peaches, roasted nuts, and oak spice with a mineral underpinning. An elegantly and restrained wine that is charming and stylish. Dehlinger has quietly crafted one of California’s best Chardonnays for many years. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

1,600 cases, $44. · Great scent of raspberries, cherries, cola and a hint of oak.. Spicy, tenacious palate of mouth coating cherries and cranberries with a sidecar of oak. Lovely depth with an appealing restraint, featuring a soft, smooth mouthfeel. Pretty damn good. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $45. · Aromas of slightly oaked cherries and wet earth. Tasty sweet cherry and cranberry fruit that is modest in weight. Soft tannins with appealing restraint and a grip of acidity on the finish. True to the Dehlinger style marked by finesse. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 1,300 cases, $48. A blend from three of the four hilltop locations (omitting the High Plains). · Still very young and unyielding. Swirling the wine brings out scents of earthy dark red fruits, smoke and dark mocha. Richly fruited with a moderate tug of dry tannin. The earthiness of the wine trumps the fruit at this stage. After 2 hours, the wine begins to blossom with expanding flavors of savory fruit and a touch of spice. A wine to cellar for now, knowing but that it has tremendous future potential. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Dehlinger Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 360 cases, $59. Sourced from the High Plains part of the vineyard planted in 1989. 10% whole cluster. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Awkward nose with blacker fruits taking a back seat to smoke, oak, marzipan and barnyard aromas. Full-bodied dark berry core which is subdued. The tannins are ripe but prominent, oak char is evident, and there is a gentle hint of citrus on the finish. A brooding wine that will be terrific in 4 to 5 years. Drink the Goldridge bottling while you cellar the Reserve. Very good. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 1,250 cases, $40. · This is a very age worthy wine that is richly endowed with Pinot fruits and still retaining noticeable oak and tannin. Very smoothly textured and light on its feet. The most harmonious wine in the lineup. Can drink now for its fruity youthfulness, but will go another 6-8 years. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 850 cases, $45. Low yields due to poor set so no reserve or special bottlings this vintage. · Bright berries, cherries and vanilla cream on the fresh nose. Earth-kissed fruits on the palate showing youthful exuberance with a touch of sweet oak. The texture is very polished. Still drank fine the next day from a previously opened re-corked bottle. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Dehlinger Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $65. · Now this is what I’m talking about. Red cherry pie aromas with a friendly oak influence. Delicious redder fruits with a little root beer and rhubarb added for interest. Embraces and surrounds the tongue with flavor. Light and elegant with barely detectable tannins. The balance is dead on. Perfect in every way, reminiscent of Comte de Vogue 1er Chambolle Musigny. Who says you can’t make Burgundy in the USA? You want some of this (sold through mailing list only). The website is www.dehlingerwinery.com and phone is 707-823-2378. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 1,300 cases, $39. · Pure and bright raspberry aromas with a hint of graham. Propelled by the alcohol, the rich fruit has a sweet fullness and lengthy persistence on the finish. Packed with pleasure, but retaining an elegance with gossamer tannins and pleasing acidity. A very good drink. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2004 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 1,150 cases, $45. · Complex nose with the scent of freshly crushed berries accompanied by notes of cherries, toast, brioche and spice. Mouth coating blue and black fruits that find every nook and cranny in the mouth linger on the finish for what seems like a minute. Notes of cherry cola and sassafras add interest. A very hedonistic, yet caressing wine. The alcohol is well balanced by harmonious t n‘ a. Still drank great a day later from a previously opened re-corked bottle predicting a long life ahead. This wine makes you want to clap your hands. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2003 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 1,300 cases, $36. Aged in barrel 16 months. · Just can’t get past the nose on this wine. While there are some pleasant blueberry and cranberry fruit aromas, there is also a strong smell of tequila. Soft in the mouth with supple tannins and restrained flavors of raisined berries. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2003 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 1,300 cases, $42. Octagon and High Plains sections of vineyard included. · Very floral nose with overtones of tequila. The flavors trump the nose with a rich parade of full-bodied dark red fruits that are smoothly textured and framed by reigned-in tannins. My least favorite of the vertical tasting. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2002 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 1,300 cases, $35. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels (usually 35%). · Full-on attack of cherries, berries and spice on the nose. Slightly confected and flat rich fruit flavors with a citric peel tang on the finish. A green bean taste intruded over time. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2002 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 1,300 cases, $40. Includes High Plains section of vineyard. · Sweet scented nose of dark berries and green garden. On the palate, the generous fruit tastes of mu shu plum sauce. The tannins are supple and the whole package is very harmonious. This wine didn’t illicit emotion, but is very solid and holding up nicely. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2001 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 1,600 cases, $35. · Slightly oxidized with aromas of soy and forest floor, and flavors of roasted fruit and nuts and raisins. Unappealing. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2001 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 1,300 cases, $40. · Darker red fruits and marzipan mark the aromas and flavors. A bigger, darker wine than 2000 with copious sweet fruit and a remarkably persistent finish. Starting to fade 2 hours after opening. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2001 Dehlinger High Plains Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 225 cases, $48. Sourced from 13 year old Pommard vines. · Delicate scents of cherries, spice, oak and green garden. Delicious cherry core with a slight fennel note that is complimentary. This wine has that Dehlinger restraint - an elegance that makes Pinot Noir so appealing. The wine is still holding enough structure to last another five years. A terrific wine that could stand up to any 2001 1er Cru Burgundy. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2000 Dehlinger Old Vine Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 430 cases, $30. · Demure scents of cherries, herbs and faint oak. Very tasty cherry core with an appealing earthiness flanked by baking spice ending with a citric tang on the finish. Not intense like so many reserve bottlings, rather offering more charm and sophistication. Plenty of finesse and proper t n’ a to last another 3-4 years. Lovely age related patina with fruit flavors that have been seemingly simmered for several years. A wonderful wine. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2000 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 1,340 cases, $35. This vintage was softer, less weighty and more succulent early. · Vivid scents of berries and cherries with a floral note. Moderately rich with a tasty core of berries finishing with a tang and some persistence. Still showing some tannin but time to drink up. Faded slowly over three hours. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

2000 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 1,600 cases, $40. A cool growing year with a record crop. Sourced from Altamont soil series only. · The nose draws you in with a perfume of crushed Bing cherries, raspberries and cola. Lovely depth and richness of flavor with plenty of sweet, fresh, vivid fruit and a deft touch of oak. A very pretty wine that is drinking perfectly now. One to dance with all night. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1999 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 1,290 cases, $35. · Aromas of raspberries, cherries with a hint of oxidation. On the palate, pleasing and savory berry and black cherry flavors with a slight grilled fruit and citric note. The wine died quickly in the glass. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1999 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 1,260 cases, $42. · Slight haziness in the glass. Lovely scent of red plums, raspberries, vanilla and cream soda. More acidity in this wine allowing it to drink fresh and young with an appealing core of fresh berries underpinned with a citric tang. Very good. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1999 Dehlinger Octagon Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $50. Aged 18 months in French oak. · Slightly hazy in the glass. A gorgeous wine in all respects that is drinking perfectly now. Attractive aromas of mixed berry and cherry jam that make you want to go on sniffing. Juicy and succulent, darkly fruited, with that appealing Pinot sweetness. Nuanced flavors of cola, tea and truffle. The well-endowed tannins are fine-grained and the finish is ridiculously long. A ten-year-old wine that has aged beautifully and is special in every way. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1998 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.,1,100 cases, $32. · Slight orange tinted rim. Surprisingly fresh initially with appealing aged Pinot Noir flavors of spiced cherries, brown spice and brown sugar. One taster noted minimal Brett on the nose. Very enjoyable initially, fading over three hours. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1998 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 1,050 cases, $40. · Darkly colored with a slight orange tinge to the rim in the glass and a mild haziness. Plenty of barnyard initially which blows off revealing aromas of black raspberries and blackberries. Rich and full-bodied, dark fruit driven, with some fading and flatness to the fruit profile and a short finish. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1997 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 1,300 cases, $35. · Still bright in color. Lovely scents of black cherries, cedar, old oak and prominent spice. A well-structured and thoroughly delicious wine that is surprisingly fresh for its age. Rich and satisfying flavors of black raspberries, cherries, grilled fruit, charred wood and brown spice are framed by soft tannins and bright acidity. This wine has character and staying power. It will last several more years. Who says California Pinot Noir can’t age? Reviewed October 29, 2009 ARTICLE »

1997 Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $39. Note the wrinkles in the hand-applied label. · Reddish-brown in color. Old wine aromas of old book, roasted plum, sawdust and worn leather. Impressive fruit concentration for a 13-year-old wine and drinking beautifully. The tannins have completely faded away and the juicy and silky dark fruits complimented by hints of citrus, spice and seasoned oak make for a delicious treat. This wine will appeal to lovers of old Pinot Noir. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

1996 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 990 cases, $32. Low yields in this vintage. Aged 20 months in French oak. · Slightly cloudy with an orange-brown tinge to the rim in the glass. Wonderful secondary bouquet of plums, blackberries, mushrooms, forest floor and cigar box. Dark fruited and only slightly faded with a background of earth, oak and anise. Still drank well two hours after opening. Impressive. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1990 Dehlinger Estate Lot #2 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc. $50 (current secondary market). The back label says, “A soft, medium-bodied blend which is ready to drink.” · Still retaining good color with a very slightly brick-colored rim in the glass. Charming nose of cherries, cinnamon spice, sandalwood, aged oak and cigar smoke. Roasted cherry and cherry cola flavors with notes of berries and tobacco. The tannins are completely resolved with some mild persistent acidity. Soft and smooth in the mouth with a touch of astringency on the finish. Some interest and surprisingly respectable longevity. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »

1988 Dehlinger Estate Lot #2 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc. $50 (current secondary market). · Slight brick color to rim. Very nice aromas of black cherries, seasoned oak, toast and leather. Tart cherry and cranberry flavors displaying a faded, earthy character. Lingering grapefruit peel on the finish with minimal tannins. Some charm but the fruit is diluted and the acidity has come to the forefront. Reviewed September 19, 2009 ARTICLE »