The Russian River Valley’s sprawling, spectacular DeLoach Vineyards is a pioneer in more ways than one.
Founded in 1975 by Cecil DeLoach, Christine DeLoach, Berle Beliz and Jack Fleming, DeLoach Vineyards was one of the first full-scale wineries to open in the Russian River Valley. To give perspective, today there are more than 100 wineries in the popular AVA. From day one, the vineyard excelled at exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Clearly setting a standard of excellence, the area is best-known for those varietals today, though both DeLoach Vineyards – now under the Boisset family umbrella – and Russian River Valley are also home to copious other award-winning wines as well.
Though nearly 50 years ago, DeLoach Vineyards also set the standard as it relates to sustainable farming, harvesting and winemaking practices. Seeing it as a privilege to work with the land, and therefore a responsibility to be stewards of it versus owners, DeLoach had been awarded its organic certification by California Certified Organic Farmers. It also holds a biodynamic certification across its estate. When visiting, the dedication is obvious from its cover crops and composting to its active maintenance of biodiversity in both flora and fauna across the property including sheep, goats, chickens with their chicks, roosters, bees, an expansive vegetable garden and even a medicinal herb garden. Yes, that is in addition to the vines planted as far as the eye can see in every direction.
Speaking of visiting, checking out DeLoach Vineyards – a pioneer in hospitality, too – in person is a must as much for outdoors lovers as oenophiles.
Upon approaching the charming, tree-lined entrance to the vineyards, the sign to a “Theatre of Nature” is as clear as the sign for wine tasting. This thoroughly entertaining theater refers to the 20-acre farm on property. Guests who visit can enjoy self-guided tours of the theater at their leisure – and with wine in hand – thanks to ample posts with information every 10 feet or so. While visitors cannot physically play with the animals, their protected spaces are easily visible so interaction from a safe distance is allowed. And yes, there are ways to feed some of them as well! In order to get into the heart of the farm to see the animals, guests must meander through rows of what feels like 100 types of vegetable as well as flowers in every color, both wild and pruned, not to mention the outdoor tasting space of the estate itself. Pro tip: Boisset also owns the nearby Oakville Grocery, so plan in advance and order a board to go with a walk and bottle.
Outside of the self-guided theater adventure, there are currently several interactive tastings well worth the reservation. There is a fantastic Estate Tasting offered every weekend for $60 per person as well as a full-on Burgundy & Sonoma tasting available most days of the week for $60 per person, that offers a side-by-side tastings of DeLoach wines with actual sips from Burgundy. A favorite by return guests is the Estate Tour and Tasting, available on weekends for $60 per person, starting with a walking tour of the estate with a guide and concludes with a private seated tasting in the hidden estate cellar, which is surrounded on all sides by barrels and lit with a dramatic chandelier. It also features a decadent cheese pairing with every taste, a bonus.
If seeking something to sip in the short term while planning an in-person visiting, DeLoach Vineyards has a wealth of worthy bottles to consider for the collection. Among them:
2017 Estate Pinot Noir: With a deeper, darker feel than light and tart Pinots one may know best, expect rich cherry notes here as well as vanilla bean and even a touch of dark berries. $80
2019 Forgotten Vines Zinfandel: A perfect option for those who love the jammy spice of Zins from Dry Creek. The notes of raspberry and chocolate are prominent in every sip, as is the pepper. $60
For more information, visit www.deloachvineyards.com.