Texas Wine Lover was invited for this coverage. All opinions, experiences, and photographs are entirely our own.
Rodney Strong Vineyards kicked off the Austin Food and Wine Festival weekend with a special launch party to introduce their wine to consumers in the Austin area. The party was held at the W Hotel on the outdoor patio with a DJ spinning a festive beat and small bites prepared by Two Bros BBQ Market from Jason Dady. The vineyard showcased four wines, one white, one rosé, and two red blends for attendees to sample and enjoy from the different lines they produce. All featured fruit is grown in Sonoma County.
Established in 1959, Rodney Strong Vineyards was the 13th winery in Sonoma County. In 1962, Mr. Strong purchased a 159-acre vineyard that he replanted with the first Chardonnay vines in the famous Chalk Hill region, before the AVA was established. Additional acreage was purchased in the Russian River Valley and where Pinot Noir was planted in advance of that AVA’s establishment. Their founder was a visionary with a keen sense of picking ideal spots for planting the perfect grapes for those appellations. In 1989, the Klein family purchased the vineyard infusing additional investment to further strengthen operations for continued growth by adding additional vineyard acreage in the Chalk Hill, Alexander Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Russian River Valley areas. Over the years, the winery has incorporated green business techniques and practices. By 2005, they were producing small-lot wines from fruit harvested from specific sections within the vineyard. They were the first carbon neutral winery in Sonoma County and in 2013, they were named Wine Enthusiast’s Winery of the Year.
Rodney Strong Vineyards is well known for cool climate aromatic white wines, and full-bodied Bordeaux style reds. They produce four different lines of wines from high end limited edition collector’s bottles, to very approachable blends that readily appeal to most palates. The first of four wines featured at the event was their very crisp Sauvignon Blanc that was resplendent with fresh pear notes and a hint of effervescence and honeysuckle on the nose. This white was well balanced and full of fresh fruit flavor, making it a lovely wine for entertaining and enjoying when something cool and refreshing is in order. The second wine was a Rosé of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, which is their second vintage. It had a lovely pale pink hue with bright ripe strawberry notes and a hint of jasmine and acidity. This wine was cold fermented with a 12.5% alcohol content, and was a delightful sipping wine.
Their red blends were more sophisticated with definite cellaring appeal. The third wine was Upshot, featuring fruit primarily from Alexander Valley and Knights Valley. This blend was luscious and medium bodied highlighting the depth of beauty of the terroir. It is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Riesling with some fruit cofermented before blending. This red was beautiful with a lovely mouthfeel and a soft tannin finish.
The final wine poured was Rowen, featuring fruit from a single vineyard above Lake Sonoma. A Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend, this had the boldest fruit flavors. Featuring notes of dark cherry and soft spice with smooth tannins and a rich dark red shade. This was elegant wine perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with food and able to cellar for a while. This wine showcased why the region produces world class wines. You can taste the care and passion that went into producing these wines as you enjoy each sip. We enjoyed getting acquainted with the Rodney Strong vineyards staff and their wines, and look forward to sipping more of their wines in the future.