When you think of the Russian River Valley, what comes to mind? Pinot Noir and Chardonnay? Well, right now, yes, but it wasn’t always that way.
Trappers and hunters predominated in the early 1800s, as Russian settlers moved into this area just north of San Francisco giving the river and the surrounding watershed its colorful name. By the 1870s, viticulture had been firmly established in the valley, only to be completely de-railed by prohibition in the 1920s. What followed, even after the repeal of prohibition in 1933, was a steady growth in normal agricultural crops and orchards for many years to come. It would take a 30-year incubation period for the re-birth of vineyards.
The true wine Renaissance finally arrived in the 1960s, when pioneers like Charles Bacigalupi and Joe Rochioli began planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And later, when Chateau Montelena took the French by surprise at the 1976 Paris tasting (with a Chardonnay made from Bacigalupi fruit), and Williams Selyem began to win accolades for its Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs, the valley found its rightful place as a world-class (and world famous) wine growing region.
GrapeRadio is proud to present a brief look at the Russian River Valley, including interviews with Joe Rochioli, Howie Allen, Helen Bacigalupi, Burt Williams, John Haeger, James Laube, and many more. Join us for a close-up of this beautiful area, including highlights of its history, its agriculture, its foods, and most importantly, its people.