Korbel Natural Champagne is all about the fruit of the Russian River Valley. We blend Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from our own estate vineyards with grapes grown in some
of the best independently owned vineyards in the area. The result is a vintage cuvee based on just two varieties, from one region, yet often using a dozen or more vineyards,
each of which brings its unique character to the blend.
The Korbel Winery began operation in 1882. Two years later, noted winemaker Frank Hasek came to California from Prague and become the first Korbel champagne-master. Employing méthode champenoise, the time-honored French technique of producing champagne, the Korbels quietly experimented with various cuvées. And by the turn of the century, Korbel had become an internationally known and award-winning champagne label. The tradition was kept alive for the next half-century until 1954, when the winery was sold to Adolf Heck. Adolf Heck arrived in Sonoma with yeast cultures in hand. He brought and preserved them from his native Germany and they are still in use today. In 1956 he re-introduced Korbel Brut in a style that was lighter and drier than any American champagne on the market, making it the first champagne developed specifically for American tastes. He also invented and patented the first automatic riddling machine which eliminated the danger of exploding bottles.
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The Russian River Valley is named as such due to its proximity to the Russian River, the river itself named for the Russian fur traders who came down from Alaska in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Russian River is agricultural land. While there is a focus on wine, beyond the vineyards are many small, family-owned farms cultivating everything from cattle to Christmas trees.
The proximity of this cool river and the rolling fogs from the Pacific Ocean make the area amenable to cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, the region is quite known for its full-bodied, yet elegant Pinot Noir, as well as their ripe, yet lean Chardonnays. Within Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. Chalk Hill is the warmer of the two and furthest from the ocean, while Green Valley is cooler and closer to the water.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.