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Wine Guerrilla Tasting Room

It is so very bourgeois, is it not? I am speaking of the act of swishing an ounce or two of wine in one’s glass, commenting on its notes of sous bois and brambleberries, and all the while standing in a wine tasting room that doubles as an art gallery.

Comrades, I’m telling you there’s at least one place in Sonoma County where you can do so, without fear of being charged as a counterrevolutionary: Forestville’s Wine Guerrilla, a tongue-in-cheek brand that brings hope to the Zinfandel faithful.

Forestville Irregulars
When I last checked in on Wine Guerrilla in 2013, brand founder Bruce Patch had just launched this tasting room on the main drag of Forestville, strategically situated in the heart of the Russian River Valley. With a backyard and a lounge area, there’s plenty of space to set up camp at this tasting room.

Since then, Patch has moved on—taking a cache of barrels with him, moving fast, further into the jungles of wine country, no doubt—but it’s basically the same team of partners and winemakers running the show. And while for now, the poster-sized label artwork of artist Sean Colgin still challenges viewers with Picassoesque revolutionaries and ladies robed in little but their nature, future labels will feature a different artist.

Drink for the Cause
Wine Guerrilla is a partisan for Zinfandel, America’s “heritage grape.” Thus, revolutionary and reactionary at the same time. But such varietal comrades as Petite Bourgeois—Sirah, I mean Petite Sirah—are welcome at the table.

While I loved some of Wine Guerilla’s 2009 and 2010 wines, 2011 seemed to be a kind of blue period. Perhaps they’re coming around. Meanwhile, plush new wines like the 2012 Conte Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($35) offer a quality note of polished oak furniture—how bourgeois—over juicy boysenberry and olallieberry flavor. Only 45% Zinfandel, the 2013 Rebel Cru Red Blend ($35) contains a host of other grapes.

For a few dollars more, the unbelievably still available 2009 Coffaro Vineyard Old Vine Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($50) is a standout wine for anyone who’s looking not just for Zin’s “typical” character, but for the power and intensity that very special examples of the varietal offer. An intriguing, dark aroma of chocolate-covered espresso bean, or dark earth, keeps this wine’s fruit a mystery until the palate’s brambleberry fruit offensive: lush, plush boysenberry juice stays bright and almost tart, despite this wine’s relative age, all the way to the finish. Viva Zin!

The Cause of Zin
Over 100 years ago, it was recognized that while Zinfandel offered a hearty typical varietal character, the best examples were like “angel’s visits, ‘few and far between,’” in the words of viticulturist George Husmann (1888). Although Zinfandel remains a popular wine, there are too few new plantings being developed in the traditional, dry-farmed and head-trained model so that future generations may enjoy these kinds of superlative examples of old vine Zin.

Hit the Road
It’s not such a long march from Forestville to Graton on the West County Trail, and there are berry tasting (in season) and jam tasting (at Kozlowski Farms) opportunities along the way. Or seek out a lunch that exceeds expectations in presentation and ingredients at Forestville’s Backyard.

6671 Front Street, Forestville, CA 95436. Open daily, 11am–5pm. Tasting fee, $10.

Find more info about wineries in Sonoma County here.


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