POSTED ON August 10, 2009 | IN Russian River Wine Country - Sonoma Cty. | BY joe

They call themselves the “Eastside Bunch.”Who are they? The Eastside Bunch are eight wineries located near each other (within 2 miles) on the east side of the Russian River in Sonoma County. Each year, they hold an open house called the Summer Fest. We managed to visit most of those wineries at the Summer Fest event and went back again to a few during the week to get a better visit when things were not so crowded. Here is my quick review of each of these wineries.

Acorn Winery: Also the home of Alegria Vineyards. Betsy and Bill Nachbaur are the owners of this very old vineyard and Bill, the winemaker. My favorite wines here are: Cab Franc, Heritage Zin, and the Sangiovese. The Heritage Zin is from a vineyard containing mostly Zinfandel grapes but with smatterings of other varietals. This is how wine was blended in the old days.

Foppiano Vineyards: This is a great family winery and in fact the oldest family winery in the Russian River area. Their signature wine is Petite Sirah. My favorite thing to do here is take the self-guided vineyard walk.

Limerick Lane: Long famous for their Collins Vineyard Zinfandel, this winery is in a secluded spot on Limerick Lane. They also make a very tasty blend of Syrah and Zinfandel called the 1023, named for their address on Limerick Lane.

Merriam: This winery just opened a magnificent facility on Los Amigos Road. I was greatly impressed by all their wines. Their Merlot is so good that I am convinced that even Miles, the character in the Sideways movie, would love it.

Christopher Creek: Also on Limerick Lane, this winery makes a terrific Syrah. Best thing to do here is hike to the top of the vineyard behind the tasting room where you will find an amazing view of the St. Francis Vineyards of the Russian River Valley.

Meitz: There’s a scary sign outside the entrance, warning that the building may not be safe during an earthquake. This is a tiny winery and usually not open to the public except for the Summer Fest. Try the Pinot Noir if you get a chance.

Christie Winery: Tucked on a side road on Limerick Lane. It was directly behind the house we rented, the Santorini House on Limerick Lane. Never did taste their wines but the winery looks inviting. Open by appointment only.

Rodney Strong: Big and elegant winery with a corporate feel to it. There are many beautiful things to look at here. For reasons not very clear, the Rodney Strong winery, even though a member of the Eastside Bunch, did not to participate in the Summer Fest.


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