Jul. 22nd, 2010

Winery Review: Arrowood Vineyards & Winery in in Glen Ellen, California

Wineries in California: When Richard Arrowood and his wife and business partner Alis opened Arrowood Vineyards & Winery in 1987, Richard wasn’t ready to quit his day job. After all, he was working as wine master at Château St. Jean Winery, a position he had held since day one. They built a picturesque New England farmhouse with winemaking facilities tucked neatly in the back on a hillside just south of Glen Ellen. Alis ran all aspects of the winery while Richard fulfilled his obligation to Château St. Jean. In 1990, Richard was able to put all his energy into his new enterprise.

He first intended to focus solely on reserve-quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. But his adventurous spirit, along with a dedication to crafting wines from the Sonoma Valley’s finest fruit, led him to expand his portfolio to include limited quantities of Merlot, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, late-harvest Riesling, Malbec, Syrah, Gewürztraminer, Rosé, and a few special reserve wines.

Arrowood wines are produced using grapes sourced exclusively from Sonoma County. Richard uses a “non-interventional” approach, doing as little as possible to the wine and simply enhancing what nature provides. He only applies oak aging judiciously where needed. His goal is to make wines that speak to the flavors of Sonoma County’s diverse vineyards.

Judging from the press these wines have received, he has succeeded. Wine critic Robert Parker Jr. bestowed 95 points on both the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, Monte Rosso Vineyard and the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Réserve Spéciale. And wine critic Stephen Tanzer called the 2004 Syrah, Russian River Alley, Saralee’s Vineyard a “very nicely balanced Syrah” and awarded it 91 points in his International Wine Cellar magazine.

A decade ago, Richard and Alis added a bright, cheerful Hospitality House and Visitors Center to complement the original winery building. The tasting room has a wraparound veranda, encouraging guests to wander out and admire the beautiful countryside where the grapes that go into Arrowood wines develop their distinctive flavors.

  • ’07 Chardonnay, Sonoma County Fresh, pure, lightly toasty, apple, peach, baking spices $30
  • ’05 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County Plums, cassis, currant, vanilla, earth, toast $50
  • ’04 Syrah, Russian River Valley, Saralee’s Vineyard Ripe plum, white pepper, spicy $40
  • ’05 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, Monte Rosso Vineyard Dark, cassis, earth, leather, blackberries, anise, toasty oak $70

    707.935.2600; Fax: 707.938.5947
    PO Box 1240
    14347 Sonoma Hwy
    Glen Ellen, CA 95442
    Tasting Room Open Daily 10–4:30

    Directions are available on the website or by calling the winery.
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