Rochioli Vineyards & Winery

Owner(s) Joe Rochioli, Tom Rochioli
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Rochioli Vineyards & Winery

The colorful Rochioli story as told to me by Joe Rochioli is detailed in depth in Volume 4, Issue 42 of the PinotFile.

The first viable Pinot Noir crop from the ranch was in 1971. In 1976 Joe made 1,000 cases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Davis Bynum under the Fenton Acres label. In 1979 he sold some West Block Pinot Noir to Williams Selyem who later made Rochioli Vineyard famous (since 1998, Williams Selyem only receives Pinot Noir from River Block). Gary Farrell, the winemaker at Davis Bynum, made 50 cases of Rochioli Pinot Noir from West Block and Allen Vineyard in 1982 which launched his Gary Farrell label. Also, in 1982 Farrell made 150 cases of Pinot Noir for Rochioli to launch the Rochioli brand.

Shortly after this, Joe’s son, Tom, returned from the business world, disenchanted with his job, and joined the farm. He used his business acumen to build a 10,000 case winery which was constructed on the estate in 1985. A winemaker was hired, but after the first year, Tom took over and has made the wines ever since. His biggest influence was Burt Williams of Williams Selyem and he is largely self-taught.

The plantings are divided into blocks and block-designated Pinot Noirs are produced in addition to an appellation wine (The appellation Pinot Noir is labeled Rochioli and the block-designates are labeled J. Rochioli). The first year for block-designated wines was 1992 when East Block and Three Corners were added to the West Block which had been released as a reserve beginning in 1989. The blocks include West and East (being pulled out due to diseases in the mid 2000s), Riverblock, Three Corner, Little Hill, and the newest plantings, Sweetwater. West Block grows the best Pinot Noir and every time a new block of Pinot Noir is planted on the property such as Little Hill and Sweetwater, cuttings from West Block are used. The Ranch now consists of 162 acres, of which 128 are planted to vines, 64 acres to Pinot Noir. About 50% of the estate fruit is used to make Rochioli wines and the rest is sold to other wineries.

The best Rochioli Chardonnay comes from the Hanzell selection which came directly from Hanzell Vineyards. Rochioli is one of the few growers to have it.

The Pinot Noir planted in the vineyards at Rochioli are a mix of Dijon and Pommard but Pommard is clearly Joe's favorite. He says, "Pommard is kind of our house style - spicy, rich, deep, dark fruit. The target picking Brix is 24.5º, but to get the house style and flavors they desire, they must pick at least this Brix, otherwise a tomato quality shows up.

The single-vineyard and block-designated wines are sold through a mailing list ("The List"). The Rochioli Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, some of the Chardonnays, and the Sauvignon Blanc are also sold through the tasting room with some retail and restaurant distribution. The tasting room at 6192 Westside Road is a popular spot for tourists and is open Thursday through Monday. Total production is 13,000 cases of the three varietals. Joe says he could produce and sell more, but he prefers to make less with higher quality. 707-433-2358.

See J. Rochioli

Reviewed Wines

2011 Rochioli Estate Grown Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $42. 70% Mid 40 and 30% River Block vineyards. 100% MLF. Aged sur lie for 9 months. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very shy white peach, Meyer lemon, vanilla wafer and toasty oak aromas. Flavors of lemon curd, pineapple and white peach with a hint of smoky oak in the background. Fresh with a bright cut of underlying acidity. Good. Reviewed February 27, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Rochioli Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $54. Primarily sourced from Sweetwater Vineyard and includes new West Block plantings. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Big, effusive nose of ripe Bing cherries. Medium weight flavors of dark red cherries with accents of cola, oak vanillin and loamy earth in the background. A real crowd pleaser with that signature Middle Reach luscious cherry fruit, but tempered nicely by balanced tannins and acidity to make a complete wine that finishes bright and juicy. Very good. Reviewed February 27, 2013 ARTICLE »

2006 Rochioli Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $70. This wine was discovered on the bottom shelve at a BevMor store (a discount wine retailer in California) - astonishing considering the pedigree. · This wine needs patience currently. The aromas open slowly exhibiting black cherry, strawberry, forest floor, and hickory. Earthy and plumy on the palate with a touch of savory herbs. Elegant and silky with a short finish. Good but not great. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

2003 Rochioli Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · Dark red stone fruits with dried herbs run through from start to finish. Nice finesse, yet a solid tannic structure with brisk acidity on the finish. Very drinkable. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »