Rochioli Vineyards has definitely earned its place in the pantheon of stellar winemaking. Year after year, wines coming from the Rochioli vineyards rank at the top of virtually every winelover's wish list. After his father spent more than a decade farming the land, Joe Rochioli purchased the vineyards in the late 1950s. He was certain that specific varietals would do best in the unique microclimate of the Russian River Valley. When his son, Tom, began to produce the first Rochioli wines in the mid 1980s, the immediate results were spectacular. The outstanding quality of the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, which come from this vineyard, made it clear that the Rochiolis were outstanding winemakers.
The 161-acre Rochioli vineyard is exceptional. When one combines great vineyards with great farming practices, the obvious result is great wine grapes, and exceptional wines. The Rochiolis still sell some of their grapes to other noted Pinot Noir winemakers. Currently, Tom Rochioli makes about 10,000 cases of estate wine per year. Most winelovers would certainly appreciate having more of these outstanding wines available for their tables and cellars.
The Rochioli family has been growing grapes on its 136-acre ranch since the 1930s. In 1984, Tom Rochioli created the first wines to be produced under the Rochioli name. The 9000 case winery produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
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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.