Rodney Strong Vineyards
Rodney Strong Vineyards is one of the older wineries in the Russian River area of Sonoma County with a bonding date of 1959. It is a big winery, 850,000 cases a year, and attracts a large number of visitors to its tasting room and tours. As part of a Travel Zoo coupon deal, a tour of the Rodney Strong Vineyards was included in our stay at the Vintners Inn. Get this: the last time we visited the Rodney Strong winery was back in 1972. The present day winery off Old Redwood Highway near Healdsburg was completed in 1970. At that time Rodney Strong, a former ballet dancer, was the owner. Today it is owned by Tom Klein. Those in the San Francisco Bay Area may know Tom’s wife better, Kate Kelly, former news anchor for KPIX.
About 80% of the wines produced are devoted to the Sonoma County label. They are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. The retail price for these wines is $20 at the winery. However, you can find these wines at many supermarkets and warehouse stores for much less. For example, the Rodney Strong Sonoma Cabernet is sold at Costco for $12.95 and sometimes even less than that. Our tour guide Sheila mentioned: “These three wines keep Rodney Strong operating profitably.” I have tasted these wines and I consider them to be nicely made and a good value at the sale price one finds in the supermarkets. Rick Sayre is the head winemaker overseeing the entire winemaking operation.
In a completely different section of the winery, the other 20% of the wines are made. These wines are produced from single-vineyard or specially-selected grapes for the upper tier wines. These wines are aged in French oak barrels for two years. These wines are not found in any supermarkets. Many are sold directly to wine club members. These top tier wines are very expensive. We tasted three and they are very delicious and well made. But at $75 a bottle, it is far above what I am willing to pay for a bottle of wine.
The tour was very well done. We took a walk in the vineyards, viewed the crush pad, and tasted some barrel samples. The outdoor picnic area is a beauty. This is where the winery holds concerts and events for wine club members. When not is use for these special events, visitors can picnic and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Rodney Strong Vineyards is certified for its sustainable farming practices. They also have a huge number of solar panels, some 4000. While we were present in the vineyards, KTVU News was interviewing Rodney Strong Vineyards winegrowing manager, Doug McIlroy. The interview was centered about the drought problems for the 2014 growing season. Below is the video of that report as aired on KTVU news later that evening.
If you want to visit Rodney Strong Vineyards, visit the winery’s Website for a complete and thorough description of the tastings and tour offerings. Nearby are several wineries that are also fun and interesting to visit. Take a look at our Old Redwood Highway Wine Trail.