Summary: Foppiano Vineyards, in Sonoma Valley, has a long history part of which is related in the book "When the Rivers Ran Red." The Foppiano family is one of the original families producing wine in Sonoma. Take time to amble through some of the nearby vineyards. The focus at the winery is Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
Inside, the tasting room is finished with a wood ceiling, ceiling lights and fan. The wood ceiling lends a pleasant warmth and friendly atmosphere to the tasting room. A showcase has several wines and artifacts on display. One quickly learns of the multi-generations involved with this winery.
A visitor to Foppiano Vineyards will easily find the winery by looking for a red caboose. Even this train relates to the history of the winery, with train tracks running near the property providing transportation for grapes. The property was purchased in 1896. A winery was already here and the new owners decided to continue making wine. In 1910 their Grandfather purchased the land from their Great Grandfather. Their Grandfather died in 1924 while Prohibition was still in effect. Prohibition was a trying time period for the winery as depicted in Vivienne Sosnowski's book "When the Rivers Ran Red." Paul and Susan Foppiano’s mother and father were able to restart the winery in 1934. The oldest bottle of wine in the tasting room showcase is dated 1937.Today Paul and sister, Susan, are the 4th generation.
Paul and Todd Arterburn, President of Foppiano Vineyards, took us on a tour of the vineyard that borders the Russian River. The vineyard has 132 acres of vines on the 170-acre property. Petite Sirah occupies 35 percent of the plantings. Other varietals include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Carignane. Visitors to the winery have the opportunity to walk through the vineyards. The varietal grapes are well marked.
We met the winemaker, Natalie West, who is very enthusiastic about producing great wines in her role as winemaker. She offered us a barrel tasting of the Pinot Noir 2008. It had a mineral aroma with a light red fruit taste. The finish was crisp with mild tannins. While walking through the winery, staff members were separating red wine from the skins. The barrel area was stacked high with barrels of aging wine. Special events are held in this area of the winery. Creative candleholders made of wine barrel staves hold candles creating a delightful ambiance.
After a delightful lunch with Paul, Susan and Todd, we went to the tasting room where Todd conducted the wine tasting.
Petite Sirah 2008 was a dark purple with a dark fruit aroma. The taste was fruity with a hint of spice. The crisp finish was fruity with tannins. Pinot Noir 2006 was a translucent purple. The aroma was of red fruit notes with a hint of oak. The smooth taste offered red fruit notes. The finish was crisp and fruity. Lot 96 offered an aroma and taste of red fruit. There were mild tannins on the finish. This is a good wine for everyday. The name Lot 96 reflects the founding of the winery in 1896. Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was a dark purple opaque color. The aroma offered pepper and black fruit nuances. The taste had notes of pepper and blackberries. The crisp finish was peppery with tannins. Petite Sirah, Estate 2005 was a dark purple. The aroma and taste were of black fruit. The finish offered fruit notes with bold tannins. Reserve Petite Sirah 2003 had an aroma of black fruit. The taste was silky with black fruit. The finish had bold tannins with a fruit finish. The wine had a chewy texture.
Visitors to Foppiano Vineyards do not need appointments. If you have some time, stop at Foppiano and enjoy their wine tasting. Add a special treat to your visit and take a walk in the vineyard. Ask about the 1896 Society Wine Club while in the tasting room.
12707 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg, California 95448
N38º 35.381’ W122º 51.060’
Visit these California organizations and wineries that partner with Wine Trail Traveler.