Nikolai Stez is the winemaker at Woodenhead in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. He was born in San Francisco and has lived on the Russian River since childhood. His first experience with fermentation was as a boy making the traditional Russian drink "kvas" (a fermented bread or fruit drink) that his immigrant parents taught him to make. He worked for 17 years for the famous "two guys in a garage cult winery" that put Russian River Valley Pinot on the map. A gig working for Burt Williams cemented his life's passion for wine.
The Russian River Valley is a region known for its success with cool climate varietals, notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Russian River Valley AVA accounts for about one-sixth of the total planted vineyard acreage and has a characteristically cool climate, heavily affected by fog generated by the valley's proximity to the Pacific Ocean. This vintage had a bountiful harvest compared to the preceding two vintages and avoided the fires that affected the region in 2017.
This wine is a clear medium ruby, with a medium viscosity in the glass as it is unfined and unfiltered. The nose is clean with definite red fruit characteristics and hints of black fruit. Aromas of dried cherry, mulberry, plum, and warm spices follow with earth notes and mint. The palate is warm, fruity, and dry, dominated by black cherry and black raspberry flavors and noticeable but soft acidity and light tannins. French oak is discernible which rounds out the richness of this classic Pinot Noir for a balanced and lingering finish. Pair it with juniper rubbed roast duck with cherry jus or vegetarian dishes such as beet salad with red onion and goat cheese, and butternut squash with roasted shiitake mushrooms.