We were enjoying the annual Taste of Route 116 event, which gave us an ideal excuse to visit one of our favorite Russian River tasting rooms: Taft Street Winery.
The Taste of Route 116 is a great event. Just be a member of any participating winery and enjoy membership privileges at all 16 for the entire weekend. We started at Balletto Vineyards, our “home” club winery, collecting a commemorative wine glass and medallion. We also took the opportunity to taste some of their latest releases and picked up our overdue club release wines. From there, we headed directly to another favorite, Taft Street Winery. As usual, the tasting room was comfortably full of club members, the blackboard wall had an up-to-date map of local vineyards, and the wine guides were pouring wine and talking story. A good time was in full swing!
The word that best describes the feeling of the Taft Street Winery tasting room is “comfortable.” There are plenty of places to sit, the decorations are pleasant and informative, and the staff are wonderful without exception. There is a patio for al fresco tasting and a large outdoor space to support their summer concert series. There’s even a foot rail on the tasting bar to help with posture changes while tasting. The Taft Street Winery may have started in a garage, but they have now created a lovely tasting experience for their guests!
The wine club (or President’s Club as they call it) reflects this same “customer first” attitude. There is no cost to join, which is the norm. Members commit to take six bottles of wine twice a year. Taft Street staff will recommend a selection of six wines that typically total to around $100 after the member’s discount, but each club member is free to create their own club pack. All wine purchases during the year receive a 15% – 25% discount based on quantity, and tasting is free year around. Plus, there are complimentary club events in May and October which probably take good advantage of that large outdoor space.
We started the tasting flight with their 2018 Grenache Blanc “Catie’s Corner” which was a zesty and lemony palate refresher. Their 2016 Chardonnay was lovely, but their head-to-head battle of the Pinot Noirs was our favorite of the tasting flight. Rob liked the 2016 Russian River Pinot Noir more while I gave the nod to their 2017 Russian River Pinot Noir. That was a great demonstration of one of the great thing about wine tasting: there are no wrong answers.
Time was rushing by us and we had more wineries on our tour list, so we thanked the Taft Street wine guides and set off into the autumn sun for our next tasting!
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?