I was initially drawn to Rochioli Vineyards and Winery because of my continued enthusiasm for Williams Selyem. The later has a well-known “Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard” bottling and they use some Rochioli grapes in their “Westside Road Neighbors” pinot noir blend. Prince of Pinot writes that Williams and Selyem began buying grapes from Joe Rochioli in 1979, before they were even bonded. So it is a longstanding relationship.
Rochioli has been around a lot longer than Wms Selyem, having been first cultivated to vine in 1938. Now in its third generation, this family run operation continues full steam ahead.
Rochioli is like Wms Selyem in that you need to sign up on a list to have access to their vineyard block specific wines. I joined the queue recently. They estimate it will only take about three years.
Unlike Williams Selyem, where they contract with grape growers in a large assortment of places, Rochioli is all estate produced. There’s a wonderful map of the vineyards that breaks down by grape variety and sometimes, even clone. To me, it looks like it is mostly pinot noir, with some chardonnay and sauvignon blanc then other Bordeaux and Burgundy varieties, syrah and zinfandel. Since I’m mostly excited by the pinot, I wait anxiously for the list to move along.
You don’t need to be “on the list” to visit, which is another difference between these two powerhouse wineries. On the day we went, it was super sunny and crowded. However, I don’t think that it was the excellent weather that brought people out. That weekend was a pick-up one for Rochioli club members, too.
Physically, they’re right across the way from Hop Kiln Winery. There were lovely gardens out front blooming with lots of colorful poppies and other flowers. In back there’s a superb view across the valley toward the Russian River.
We brought Clarence with us. The dog struggled with the warm weather but adored all the attention that the other guests showered upon him.
We were able to try three wines that were quite pleasant:
2009 estate chardonnay: According to the guide this is 30% chard from the River Block Vineyard and 70% from the Mid 40 Vineyard.
This was a pale yellow with a tart aroma that included a hint of tar. We noted flower blossoms and peach, other yellow fruit and some creaminess. Good.
2010 estate rosé of pinot noir: This had a remarkable color: a pale orange red that looked almost rusty. It tasted slightly fizzy with loads of fresh strawberries with a pleasant light to medium body and some complexity.
2009 estate pinot noir. The majority (75%) of the grapes for this pinot blend come from the Sweetwater Vineyard with the rest, a mix of all the remaining pinot noir parcels.
This was a transparent purple red with notes of sour cherry, wood chip, clay, and exotic spices. Full bodied and luscious with a good finish, it had hints of sour cherry.
A visit to Rochioli is as uncomplicated as it is fun and relaxing.