Downtown Forestville, near Santa Rosa in California, is a hidden jewel for people like us who are always searching for wineries to explore. Not to press the metaphor too far, but one winery not to be missed is actually called Joseph Jewell!
Forestville has several amazing restaurants, some great wineries, and scenic views. Parking is a bit of a problem, but a little persistence can reward a visitor with a spot that will open the entire town. Given the compact size of Forestville, parking nearly anywhere will work. We quickly found a spot and walked a few blocks to the Joseph Jewell tasting room.
The tasting room is bright and open, with the walls covered with gallery-quality art. This artistic environment put us in a relaxed and receptive mood. We were ready for some wine tasting. We chose a table (yes, a seated tasting!) and surveyed our tasting flight options. Their Discovery Flight ($10) and Single Vineyard Flight ($20) both offered intriguing wines. As usual, we deployed our Divide and Conquer strategy, with each of us selecting a different flight and sharing tastes around the table. More experience, less alcohol. Win!
We met wine guide Nicole and shared our tasting strategy. She started us with a Chardonnay. Their 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay showed good balance and restrained butter, with good fruit throughout. The 2014 Starscape Vineyard Chardonnay was immediately because of its appearance. Being unfined and unfiltered, it was cloudy instead of clear. We enjoyed the lemon zest flavors and creamy finish.
2014 Holboldt County Pinot Noir, sourced from three vineyards: Elk Prairie, Alderpoint, and Ryan). This started with great aromas, leading to cassis and cranberry notes and a zippy, tannic finish. The 2014 Elk Prairie Vineyard Pinot Noir as a fun taste, with lots of fruit up front and a surprising sweet and saturated finish. Next up was their 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, sourced from Apian Way, Hallberg and Floodgate vineyards. We appreciated the well-balanced layers of dark fruit and the fun cherry finish.
The 2013 Floodgate Vineyard Pinot Noir reminded us of a Lodi Pinot, with aggressive aromas and strong tannins. Our final tastes compared their 2013 Appian Way Pinot Noir to their 2014 Hallberg Pinot Noir. The Appian Way Pinot won fans because of the surprisingly silky mouth feel carrying cherry and plum notes across the tongue, with a peppery finish. The Hallberg Pinot was equally successful with classic pinot fruit with a whisper of coffee, leading to a lingering finish that begged for a second sip. No amount of comparison was able to declare a single winner. That’s a great problem when wine tasting!
We made our difficult wine purchase decisions, thanked Nicole for her warm hospitality and headed off. Dinner was mere blocks away!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?