On our way to Healdsburg we stopped in at a charming family run winery called Graton Ridge Cellars. The Paul Family has three generations involved with their winemaking. The day we visited, Elliot was our very charming host. He told us how the Paul family had started their business in 1945 growing apples, but has since transitioned to grapes and winemaking. They primarily grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The tasting room is small and has a very intimate feeling. The owners as well as the winemaker are often on-site. I always like to be able to chat and find out how people got involved in the winemaking industry and what their passions are.
We tried the 2011 Chardonnay from the Paul Family Vineyard. It was a very good white wine for someone who thinks she doesn’t like white wine. The Pinot Noir is made from grapes that are grown right next door. Only 600 feet away from the winery this is as close as you can get to being estate grown. The 2011 Zinfandel is gown eight miles away. This is the farthest away Graton Ridge sources their grapes. The Zin was nice and peppery. It won the Best in Class Harvest Awards.
A little more unusual was the 2011 A+ Apple Port. The recommendation is to taste this with a little blue cheese. The 2011 Zinfandel Port was very good. At $30 per bottle I would consider it a good value. Tastings are $10 refunded with a purchase.
The grounds are small and well-kept. There is a cute picnic area and bocce ball. A giant stone bottle is located next to the entry and there are interesting items scattered around that you can explore. Graton Ridge Cellars is a nice beginning to your adventure into Russian River Valley wines.