We had once been members of the La Follette Wine Club, having followed Greg La Follette over from Flowers Winery, a long-time Sonoma Valley favorite wine. After over-committing to wine clubs in Santa Barbara County (our backyard), we dropped this club. Greg had moved on to other ventures (which we look forward to trying), and there was a new winemaker. It wasn’t until “Collette from La Follette” (yes!) called us repeatedly to entice us to return for a tasting that we ventured back. La Follette had moved its tasting room from Sebastopol (the Barlow…www.thebarlow.net…check it out!) to combine with Quivira Winery in the Dry Creek Valley area near Healdsburg. We tasted with another lovely family who grows and distributes green beans on the East Coast. Our experience started with a tour and a glass of Quivira French-style Rose’, through of some of the most wonderful gardens we’ve seen! These are extensive gardens which include about every type of herb and vegetable there is, along with tons of beautiful flowers – a magical spot! Bees were happily buzzing throughout the plants, and there are also chickens and pigs on the property. The lucky employees get to take home their choice of fresh veggies at a weekly farmers market just for them!
We sat out at a picnic table among the olive trees to start our tasting adventure. It felt like we were in France or Italy. Collette recently received her WSET Level 2 certificate and is working on Level 3, so she was a wealth of knowledge. She filled us in on what had happened at La Follette and the new winemaker, Simone Sequeira, who had apprenticed with Greg, and described the vineyards and wines with a lot of interesting detail. As usual, we had a lot of questions and she answered them all. She also brought out a small tray of delicacies (no additional charge) from the garden consisting of flavorful cherry tomatoes, olives, and dried peaches.
We started the tasting with a couple of nice Chardonnays, both from the Russian River Valley, the one from Boudreaux Vineyards with a lighter touch (less French oak) and one more robust. We then moved to the Pinots! There were 3 different Pinot Noirs, all excellent, but from different vineyards. The first was a lighter, easier to drink version from Sonoma Coast. What a great wine for the price, at just $34! Tasting notes mention, “Vibrant red fruit plays against the richness of oak, creating a pleasing balance on the palate. Soft tannins enhance notes of forest floor and spice.”
The second Pinot was from the Sangiacomo Roberts Road vineyard, was excellent. Tasting Notes discuss both an earthy richness and integrated red-fruit acidity, with smooth tannins building to a long cocoa finish. There was more complexity in this Pinot, but it was very well-integrated and smooth, which we really enjoyed. Roberts Road Vineyard is located at the base of the eastern foothills of the Sonoma Coast, just west of Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the famed “Petaluma Gap”. The “gap” pulls the ocean breeze in through the Russian River Valley (similar to the Santa Rita Hills) where it rolls over the foothills, moderating the healthy amount of sun this vineyard gets from its southwestern exposure. Situated on well-drained gravelly soils of an ancient creek bed, the fruit achieves full maturity while retaining the softness of Pinot Noir.
We then had the chance to choose some of the Quivira wines to try. We tasted a Grenache, a Zinfandel, and a Cab, which were all quite good. When we checked the time, 3 hours had past! Time really flew by, and we had to get back for family activities. We took the Sonoma Coast and Roberts Road Pinots with us. We still have a 2013 DuNuh Vineyard Pinot in our cellar, so it will be fun to compare. If you have the time, we highly recommend this wonderful experience!
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
100% Pinot Noir, Clones 114 and UCD 23
Open top fermenters, native primary and secondary fermentations
11 months in 50% new French oak
Alc. 13.6| pH 3.58| 0.61 g/100mL
Sangiacomo Roberts Road Pinot Noir
100% Pinot Noir, Clones Swan, 777
Aging: 10 months in French oak barrels, 38% new
Alc. 14.4% | pH 3.6 | TA .58g/100mL