Taft Street Winery

Owner(s) Mike Martini, John Tierney, Mike Tierney
Web site www.taftstreetwinery.com
Link to this site
Taft Street Winery

In the 1970s, Cal Berkeley student John Tierney began making wine in the garage of his brother's home on nearby Taft Street. John graduated from Cal and moved to Sonoma County to work at Souverain Winery. He returned to Berkeley to be the winemaker at Wine and the People where he met Mike Martini. The Tierney’s house on Taft Street in Oakland was built in 1918, and its garage was so small that a car could no longer fit comfortably inside. The brothers decided to turn it into a winery, a true garagiste winery. The reputation of Taft Street Garage wine grew and a few years later they moved to a winery in Sonoma, officially opening on April Fool's Day, 1982 in the town of Forestville. They released their first Taft Street wine in 1982.

Robert Parker, Jr., rated their wines highly and the label became quite well known. I can remember drinking Taft Street wines in the early 1980s when I was developing a passion for wine. By 1990, they were producing 20,000 cases of good wine. Unfortunately, Taft Street wondered off the original intended course and was bought by a Manhattan, New York importer. The label soon faded into obscurity.

Mike Tierney and Mike Martini resurfaced and reinvented Taft Street eight years ago. Their tagline is “Garagistes since 1979.” The winemaker since 2007 has been Evelyn White (formerly at Clos Du Bois) and the wines have been solid since that time. The principals are holding to a policy of reasonable prices, quality grape sourcing and moderate production. The grapes are brought in from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley. Several varietals are produced including Chardonnay ($17 to a $30), Sauvignon Blanc ($16), Pinot Gris ($16), Riesling ($16), Gewürztraminer ($16), Merlot ($15), Syrah ($22), Zinfandel ($24) and Rosé of Pinot Noir ($16) and Pinot Noir ($20 to $36).

Taft Street wines can be enjoyed at the winery’s tasting room located at 2030 Barlow Lane in Sebastopol. Open Monday through Friday from 11:00 to 4:00 and on weekends to 4:30. The wines are sold online.

Reviewed Wines

2017 Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 990 cases, $28. Sourced from Skikos Vineyard (clone 667) and Winkler Vineyard (clone 23), both in the Russian River Valley. A 5-day cold soak was followed by inoculation with proprietary yeast and then open-top tank fermented at cool temperatures. The wine was aged in French oak barrels, 30% new, for 10 months. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas of Bing cherry, dark raspberry, baking spice, cola and graham. A quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, featuring flavors of dark red and black cherry, cola, spice, dark cocoa and a hint of toasty oak. Nicely composed and welcoming, with some finishing generosity. A fantastic value. Tasted twice with the same results. Score: 92. Reviewed March 23, 2019 ARTICLE »

2012 Taft Street Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.51, 390 cases, $18. Cold soaked on its skins for 24 hours before pressing and then cold fermented in stainless steel tanks with minimal handling and fining. · Strawberry-pink color in the glass. Very aromatic with vibrant aromas of fresh strawberries, red cherries and yellow peach. Modest in weight, soft on the palate, and very pleasing with flavors of red berry fruits and a hint of dried herbs. The wine is quite enjoyable on its own as an aperitif or will pair well with Thanksgiving turkey. Score: 88. Reviewed November 9, 2013 ARTICLE »

2012 Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.60, 4,211 cases, $25. Taft Street is a long time successful producer in the Russian River Valley, and claims its lineage to 1979. Aged in 10% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, bramble and earthy flora. Fresh flavors of Rainer cherry, strawberry, spice mix and toasty oak. Modest in weight with lithe tannins and appealing finesse making it appropriate for current drinking. Score: 88. Reviewed November 9, 2013 ARTICLE »

2008 Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.60, 1,074 cases, $16. Sourced primarily from Jim Moore Vineyard east of the winery on Occidental Road and Russian River Farms along Eastside Road. Aged 14 months in barrel. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherries, sage and pepper. Middleweight flavors of red cherries, raspberries and cranberries wrapped in muscular rainy tannins with a good snap of acidity on the very dry finish. The tannin/fruit balance is tipped toward tannins. Good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Taft Street Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $24 (but available for as little as $16 in retail marketplace). · Moderately intense reddishpurple color in the glass. Uplifting scents of strawberries, red cherries, leaf and smoky oak. Moderately light in weight, with the red berry and cherry core lacking in mid-palate intensity. There is a slight confected note of Red Vines and a subtle undertone of oak char. There is not enough going on in the glass to grab your serious attention, but this is a very serviceable Pinot for the money. Decent. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Taft Street Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH at harvest 3.64, 4,981 cases, $16. Sourced from several vineyards in the Sonoma Coast appellation with a good portion from Art Ibleto’s Bella Sonoma Vineyard. Fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks with three daily punch downs. Pressed to 45% French oak and 55% American oak and aged for 14 months. · Aromas of black cherries, burly oak, green garden, forest floor and a little barnyard. Dark cherry and berry flavors with a hint of oak. Decent richness, supple tannins and bright acidity. Good value. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Taft Street Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 326 cases, $35. Winemaker is Evelyn White. · Nuanced perfume revealing black cherries, melon, pomegranate, herbs, green tomato and oak. Very pleasing cherry and berry attack with some mocha in the background. A silky mouthfeel and impeccable balance make this wine very easy to drink. Very good. Reviewed January 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Taft Street Garagistes Mendocino Ridge Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH at 3.27, 326 cases, $36. Sourced from Joe Keith’s vineyard in the Mendocino Ridge AVA.Fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks with three daily punch downs. Pressed to 30% new French oak for 14 months aging. · Lovely, demure aromas of cherries and berries. Bright, intense raspberry fruit on the attack with an underpinning of earth and oak. Soft and sensual like a cashmere sweater. Harmonious with ephemeral tannins and admirable persistence on the finish. A generous, enjoyable wine. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

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