We stumbled on Inspiration Vineyards about two years ago when visiting Inspiration’s neighbor, the Harvest Moon Winery on Olivet Road near Sebastopol. Randy Pitts at Harvest Moon told us “you have to visit Inspiration Vineyards, the guy makes great wine.”One problem however, Inspiration owner and winemaker Jon Phillips holds down a full time job for the county of Sonoma. Randy calls Jon on his cell and convinces Jon to take a break, pour us some wine in his garage-sized winery. We were quite impressed with the wines and have been in touch ever since.
After having a leisurely picnic lunch at the Martin Ray Winery, we head out to find the Russian Hill Estate Winery. To get there, we head north on Laguna Road, a left on Trenton Road to River Road. At River Road we take a right turn and make our way to Slusser Road, a couple of miles away. Slusser Road comes in on the left and we head north on Slusser to Russian Hill. All of these roads in this area are just full of hidden treasures, and Russian Hill Winery is one of those teasures. I think this just might be the best view in the Russian River Valley. Had we known about the view and the picnic area earlier, we would have picnicked here rather than the Martin Ray Winery. The view is just too good to pass up.
The Russia Hill Estate Winery is a family run operation. Ed Gomez and his wife Ellen Mack own and run the winery and Ed and Ellen’s nephew, Patrick Melley, is the winemaker. While we were in the tasting room, Ed Comez happened to be there and we end up having a great conservation with him while doing our wine tasting. The wines at Russian Hill are really very good. Eveyone we tasted was delicious. The Pinot Noir wines are from different estate vineyards and they all have distinctive characteristics about them . The Syrah we tasted was just delciious. The only problem is the wines are not cheap. Most of the wines are over $30 and, unfortunately, that is over the price we like to pay for a bottle of wine. But we did treat ourselves to a bottle of the Syrah which sells for $30. We will defintely be back to this winery so we can enjoy the view with a picnic lunch. Oh, by the way, they have a perfect wine for a picnic. It is called Patio Pink, a zesty dry Rose, priced at $14 a bottle.
Russian Hill Estate Winery rates a 4.75 on our 5-point winery meter scale. It has one of the best views of any winery around.
From our home base in Sebastopol, the Martin Ray winery is about 15 minutes away. To get there, we take the Gravenstein Highway towards Forestville and take a right turn onto Guerneville Road. About two miles later, a left onto Laguna Road and then about one mile to the winery. Laguna Road is a quiet country backroad and Martin Ray truly qualifies as a hidden winery.
Why wine travel to Sebastopol? Because Sebastopol is the gateway to the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, the AVA that produces some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world. Plus, the city of Sebastopol is very much, to this day, a wine country secret. Lodging rates are still reasonable and there are some very good eats in Sebastopol. Here are my best bets for Sebastopol.