Rodney Strong, in Healdsburg, is named for its founder, who was a classically-trained professional dancer before retiring in 1959 to make wine. Originally from Washington state, Strong and his wife moved to northern California and bought and blended bulk wines to sell under their own label. In 1962 Strong purchased 159 acres in Sonoma County, and within a decade had acquired additional vineyards in the Russian River Valley. In 1989 the estate was purchased by the Klein family and is today still owned and managed by Tom Klein. The estate has grown to more than 500 acres in the Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. It is known for single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and its reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Sonoma County is not an AVA, but it is a commonly used informal designation for wines made outside of more specific AVAs within Sonoma, which is a large wine producing region just west of Napa Valley. Though Sonoma is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor Napa Valley, it has a long history of wine production. The area specialized in jug wine until the mid-20th century, when Sonoma producers took a cue from Napa and started improving quality. Unlike Napa, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king, Sonoma specialized in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, though excellent Cabs are produced too. There are at present 16 AVAs within Sonoma County, and, like much of the West Coast of the United States, new AVAs are created in Sonoma County with regularity. Some Sonoma appellations, such as the Russian River Valley, are renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.