Zepaltas Russian River Chardonnay 2013
Fast forward to summer 1998 in the Russian River Valley. Ryan had just moved to Sebastopol to live with his aunt and uncle. He made friends with Mike Mendenhall, the then cellar master at La Crema, who would later offer him a job.
He gradually found the winemaking process and the work more interesting. He stayed on for a couple of harvests but soon found out about harvest jobs in other countries. It was working harvest at Villa Maria under Michelle Richardson where Ryan truly discovered his passion for wine. When he returned back to the states, he worked all over Sonoma County doing whatever cellar work was available. Eventually, he would hear about a harvest opportunity at Siduri. He interviewed with Adam and Dianna Lee and has been at Siduri ever since.
Ryan has made a ton of great wines with Siduri and has had a blast the whole time (and still does to this day). He decided that one day he was going to make his own wines in the style that he envisioned and would start his own project on the side… thus, Zepaltas Wines was born.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.