Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Pinots of Hartford Family Winery

Our final stop on our amazing Russian River day with Raymond Rolander of Wine Cube Tours was Hartford Family Winery!

Specializing in Single-Vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Old Vine Zinfandel, Hartford Family Winery is a family–owned winery also located in Forestville within (surprise, surprise) the Russian River AVA.  Hartford Family Winery has received many accolades throughout the years including being named one of the Top Wineries of 2010 by Wine & Spirits magazine.
Winemaker Jeff Stewart
Located 15 miles from the Pacific Coast, Hartford Family Winery was founded in 1994 by Don and Jennifer Hartford's appreciation for the wines, the people, and the unique vineyards near their Russian River Valley home.  Don Hartford grew up on a small strawberry farm in western Massachusetts, and later attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  Don Hartford met his wife, Jennifer Jackson-Hartford in 1979, while at Santa Clara University in Northern California while pursuing a law degree (shortly thereafter, Jennifer's father, Jess, started a modest 16,000 case winery called Kendall-Jackson). 
The Hartford’s belief, as stewarded by winemaker Jeff Stewart, is making delicious wines of high personality is directly related to the difficult locations of their vineyard sources, the limited production of their bottlings, and the varietals they use.  "Character through adversity" is an expression that Don and Jenny believe applies to people and grapevines and surviving adversity builds character, and personality, in both. 

Several of their established vineyards are not irrigated (they feel over-watering of vines produces more crop but dilutes flavors).  Also, most of their vineyard’s vines are tightly space (as tight spacing encourages competition among vines, promotes smaller cluster and berry size, and accentuates the intensity of their wines).  The result of these small and low-yielding vineyards that deliver meager amounts is expressive and personality-rich wine.  Their single-vineyard Hartford Court Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays total as few as 93 cases up to about 800 cases.

The Hartford’s love Pinot Noir and in many years make about ten of them with fruit from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Green Valley, Carneros, Anderson Valley, and Marin appellations.  Hartford Family Winery believes that Pinot Noir makes “the most seductive red wine, notable for its supple, silky texture.”  In their opinion, Pinot Noir is one of the best grapes for expressing vineyard site characteristics in a transparent manner.

And Kelly and I are in agreeance as both our favorite Hartford Family Wines were their onion like layered Pinot Noirs: Hailey’s Block (named after Don and Jennifer Hartford’s daughter) and Jennifer’s Block Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2010.  

2010 Hartfort Court Hailey's Block Pinot Noir ($65) is bright ruby red in color with flavors of raspberry, cherry, and baking spice that bloom into a bouquet as the wine breaths.  The finish on this Pinot Noir is straight down the middle of the ballpark: the perfect balance of spice and structure.  
2010 Hartford Court Jennifer's Pinot Noir ($70, but unfortunately it’s completely Sold Out) received 93 points from International Wine Cellar.  With bright hues and a nose of black raspberry, rose oil, allspice, and soda pop its definitely a wine you won’t forget.  The palate displays flavors of cherries and berries without having either of those fruits scream in your face.  It finishes with an energy that both zips and zaps.

So on their classic outdoor patio with a welcoming fountain, Hartford Family Wines was the perfect place to finish our tour of the Russian River Valley; surrounded on all sides by hills and dales all covered with grapes just itching to evolve into a spectrum of wines.

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