Hartford Family Winery is in the Russian River region of Sonoma County. It was founded in 1993 by Don and Jennifer Hartford. Don is a lawyer and Jennifer is the daughter of Jess Jackson of Kendall-Jackson winery. Jeff Stewart is winemaker. Stewart worked for numerous California producers, including La Crema and Buena Vista Carneros, before joining Hartford. The estate focuses on single vineyard and limited bottlings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and old vine Zinfandel. Robert M. Parker Jr. writes that Hartford wines “are thrilling, single-vineyard efforts that possess extraordinary character, personality, and pleasure-giving characteristics.”
Russian River Valley AVA is named for the river that meanders from Mendocino County in the north until it finally runs into the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. The AVA is cool thanks to its proximity to the northern California coast and the river, and grape growers must learn to deal with regular fog. Nevertheless in recent decades the AVA has become one of the best in the state, meaning that its wines often earn excellent reviews and have considerable cachet. The AVA status was awarded in 1983 and today the appellation has 15,000 vineyard acres. Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape though Pinot Noir has also been very successful in recent decades. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir are known for being rich, lush and filled with concentrated fruit and berry flavors. Russian River Pinot Noirs are today considered some of the best domestic Pinot Noirs.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.