Rodney Strong Vineyards
If this joint looks like something out of the 1970s, what with the fountain, the concrete stairway, and all, that’s because it is. But for true fans of the Rodney Strong legacy, a proper tour begins 40 miles south in a creaking wood-floored building in Tiburon. That’s where the retired Broadway dancer began blending wine in 1959.
Drink with the one that brought you
Rodney Strong started with the custom-order wine company Windsor Vineyards, purchased Sonoma County vineyards, and then broke ground on his Healdsburg winery in 1970, which would become focused on single-vineyard Cabernet and Chardonnay. Since 1989 it’s been owned by Tom Klein and family, while Strong left all the world’s stage in 2008.
The conventional, second-floor tasting room occupies the hub of the building; a self-guided tour of the barrel room and wine tanks offers all the history and terroir information that a visitor possessing of a healthy curiosity might require, plus views of barrels, and wine tanks. The winery hosts a popular concert series in the summer.
Take a sip
Rodney Strong wines are well-organized into tiers, from the single-vineyard 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander’s Crown ($75) down to the popular Sonoma County appellation wines more frequently spied on wine lists and market shelves. A crisp refresher, the 2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Charlotte’s Home ($15) has grassy, lemon-lime notes, and a fleeting whiff of Jolly Rancher.
Liked that 2009 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon? It’s still here in the tasting room, and currently on sale for prices so low we can’t say them on the air. Web. Whatever. The 2010 Estate Zinfandel, Knotty Vines ($25) hails from a vineyard planted in 1904.
Hit the road
Rodney Strong wines are well regarded, and with good reason, but my research indicates a hole in their lineup: No sparkling wine. Lucky you, J Vineyards & Winery is right next door — and I mean across the parking lot. Step up to the bar for sparkling tastes, or spend big, and enjoy a delectable three-course food pairing in the Bubble Room. I checked on it. Delectable.
Rodney Strong Vineyards, 11455 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg. Daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tasting fee, $10-$15. 707-431-1533.