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The Best Pinot Noir Wineries in Russian River Valley

What goes great with a fantastic meal on a day trip north of San Francisco? Wine (and lots of it), of course! As most of you know, I live in San Francisco, but we often find ourselves north of the bridge, and you should check it out, too. Nothing compliments a San Francisco vacation better than a jaunt north. Primarily, of late, it’s been about renovating the cabin. This serendipitously allows us to make quick stops at the fantastic winery options nearby in places like the Russian River, Timbercove, and Napa Valley.

In that pursuit, we stopped at some of the absolute best wineries, and we just had to share our picks for the best Pinot noir wineries in the Russian River Valley. After all, we’re friends, and friends don’t let friends drink bad wine.

Best Pinot Noir wineries in Russian River Valley

Here’s the magic. With sections located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, this Sonoma County area is well-known for its unique climate, beautiful landscapes, and the fantastic wines. Even if you don’t like wine, I’d argue the scenery alone will make the trip well worth it. If you like wine, all the better, and we are partially fond of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. It’s just remarkable—something to do with the fog. I’m not totally sure, but it works, and I’m not asking any more questions. Ready to learn where to find the best of the best? Read on.

The Best Pinot Noir Wineries in Russian River Valley

There are so (so) many great wineries to visit in this area. Although I’ll focus on Pinot Noir-focused producers, I don’t feel you’re limited by selection. Whether you’re in the mood for a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a late afternoon Pinot Gris, I guarantee there is a winery that has exactly what you’re looking for. Still, in terms of places I’ve been so far, here are the best Pinot noir wineries in the Russian River Valley I can confidently recommend.

Fort Ross Winery

Fort Ross Winery Best Pinot Noir wineries in Russian River Valley

Starting my list is Fort Ross Winery. Hands down, this is the best overall wine experience, with an incredible Pacific Ocean view. You feel like you’re floating above the clouds when you sip your wine flights and optional (but insanely delicious) tasting menu. I can’t think of a better way to unwind after working at the cabin. I can’t even you guys – you have to try it out. Just be sure to book ahead of time.

Now, I must admit I’m a little biased as this spot is close to the cabin, and the wine is divine. They just started serving a Rose, too, which is perfection on a hot day if you want to dart from their award-winning pinot.

We visit nearly every time we are in the area and love it so much that we are wine club members, which grants you access to a regular shipment and their quarterly pick-up parties, including our all-time favorite, the annual mushroom hunt. Look at this giant mushroom I foraged last year. So fun!

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In the end, you can see how this wine region’s relatively cool climate works its magic in the flavors of their Russian River Pinot Noirs, which you can sample in the tasting room. It would be a great tragedy if I could only ever go to a single vineyard again.

Nonetheless, if I could only pick one place to visit, then the single vineyard Pinot Noirs produced here would certainly earn the Fort Ross Winery the win in my book. A must-visit!

Gary Farrell Vineyards

Gary Farrell Vineyards

Another winery worth visiting is the Gary Farrell Winery. Although a tad more expensive, this location is easily one of the best Russian River Valley wineries around. As a Top 100 Winery (2019 & 2020), you can expect to experience a beautiful selection of great wines when you visit.

Most experiences are available to the general public, although—like most of the best wineries—some things are limited to members only. The 2020 Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir is one of the best examples, as purchasing the wine requires a membership.

Still, even without a membership, you can fill your wine glasses with a wide selection of wines during an elevation tasting, take an exploration tour complete with a tasting, or even enjoy a beautiful view of the Russian River Valley at The Overlook Wine Lounge.

The Hop Kiln Estate

The Hop Kiln Estate Best Pinot Noir wineries in Russian River Valley

Open Thursday through Monday from 10 AM to 5 PM, the Hop Kiln Estate is the perfect place to go experience some of the best wines produced by Landmark Vineyards.

Turning ripe fruit from growing season into some of the best Pinot noir wineries in Russian River Valley is their specialty, and the resulting wines easily make the Estate worth the visit.

Visiting the Estate is an excellent way to save yourself time as well since the wines themselves are made from grapes at different sites. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy tasting, play Bocce, and even take a historical tour of the property.

The location also hosts special events where you can enjoy live music, pizza, and more, depending on the event. Simply check the schedule, put on some comfy footwear, and grab your tickets to attend. Want something more private? The Estate even offers hosting for private events.

An Insider Tip of the Area: Take the Westside Road if you want to visit the most wineries in a small area as possible!

Merry Edwards Winery

Merry Edwards Winery

Another great place worth checking out for a tasty beverage is the Merry Edwards Winery. Despite its Russian River vineyards being relatively new, the brand itself has been creating its own wines for over two decades.

With acres of vineyards spread across the Russian River Valley, the Merry Edwards Winery is able to offer quite a selection of wines for you to try. Such a wide selection means you’ll always be able to find a great price that fits your budget since offerings start at little as $45 per bottle.

Like most Russian River wineries, Merry Edwards has a few activities that you can attend upon visiting. Although not complete with food pairings, the winery offers a few different seated tasting packages worth checking out.

Papapietro Perry

Papapietro Perry

Last but certainly not least is the Papapietro Perry. As one of the best Pinot noir wineries in Russian River Valley, this Pinot noir vineyard offers a wide variety of ​award-winning wines, perfectly crafted from years of experience in the winemaking industry.

Tasting reservations are always available and they even take walk-ins, thanks to plenty of outdoor seating on site. If you decide to join the club, a small variety of culinary experiences, club member appreciation parties, and similar events will be accessible to you.

Fortunately, tickets for most events are offered to non-members as well, which is great if you’re looking to enjoy a new experience without making an extended commitment.

Why Russian River is Perfect for Wineries

Best Pinot Noir wineries in Russian River Valley

Once you finally taste them for yourself, you’ll quickly realize why the best Pinot noir wineries in Russian River Valley are so beloved to the local community, as well as wine connoisseurs across the globe.

This American Viticultural Area (AVA) has Mother Nature to thank for a lot of its success, in addition to the amazing United States winemakers that cultivate the vineyards.

Thanks to the volcanic ash contained within the soil types, Pinot Noir grapes are easily able to flourish in the Russian River Valley AVA. Aside from this highly nutritious “Goldridge soil”, the local weather also plays a big role in the overall success of winemakers in the area.

In the evenings, a fog comes in from the Pacific. It covers the Russian River Valley and cools the grapevines. By late afternoon, the fog lifts, granting the Pinot Noir grapes the sunlight they need to prosper.

This unique climate, combined with a rich history & hundreds of years of experience making wine, has helped the Russian River Valley Pinot noirs become as well-known and cherished as they are today.

In the mood for something to drink, but want to switch things up? Try one of these cocktail recipes!

It’s Worth Visiting the Best Pinot Noir Wineries in Russian River Valley

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If, like me, you’re always in the mood for a world-renowned wine then a trip to the best Pinot noir wineries in Russian River Valley is one you certainly won’t want to miss. Starting near the Sonoma coast and stretching deeper into Northern California, the Russian River Valley is an amazing place to admire nature, enjoy wine, and learn about the rich local history.

There are plenty of other places to go, but these are all places I hold dear to my heart. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. If you did, be sure to let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear how your trip went (and which wines were your favorite).

As always, thank you for reading, and have a great week y’all!

FAQs About the Best Pinot Noir Wineries in Russian River Valley

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Is Russian River Valley Pinot Noir good?

Yes, although not every option will be a world-class Pinot noir. It’s crucial to try a variety of different wines from various wineries to find the one(s) you prefer best.

What wine is Russian River Valley known for?

Russian River Valley is known for having some of the best Pinot Noir in the United States!

What is Russian River Valley Pinot characteristics?

These delicious wines are perhaps best known for high levels of acidity, smooth tannins, and hints of fruit.

What should I look for in a Pinot Noir?

As any wine enthusiast can tell you, the flavours in Pinot Noir can vary quite a bit. Some might offer a light-bodied experience. Others will offer a more full-bodied experience. Regardless, you should always look for a fruity flavor, paired with a smooth taste and a sense of brightness.

Should I keep Pinot Noir in the fridge?

Once it’s been opened, yes. However, you may need a dedicated refrigerator if you want to store it at the ideal temperature. Temperatures of 50°F to 55°F are best. Still, I’d say it’s worth it if you want to maintain the perfect flavor profile of these world-class wines.

What does pinot in Pinot Noir mean?

“Pinot” means pine in French. As such, “Pinot Noir” translates to “Black Pine Cone”, which starts to make sense when you look at the grapes themselves.

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