The Winery and Vineyards
Arista Winery is located on 36 acres along Westside Road in the Middle Reach sub-region of the Russian River Valley in Healdsburg. It was founded in 2002 by Al and Janis McWilliams and their emphasis is on vineyard-designate wines of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer produced in lots of 80 to 300 cases with a total annual production of about 6,000 cases.
Arista has 12 acres planted to heritage and Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and they source Pinot Noir from several vineyards and appellations including Bacigalupi, Toboni, Mononi, Perli, Ferrington and Ritchie. In addition, they acquired the Martinelli Road Vineyard in 2012, which is planted to 5 acres of 130-year-old Zinfandel, 2 acres of 20+-year-old Pinot Noir and 8 acres of 30+-year-old Wente clone Chardonnay.
The Japanese Gardens
Arista has a small tasting room within a Japanese-styled house with is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens. As you wander around the small paths through the garden you’ll find ponds with trickling water falls that descend into other ponds, surrounded by picnic tables and lush green lawns that are perfect for picnicking. This is then surrounded by the estate vineyards with a beautiful view of the mountains in the background.
One of the advantages of tasting at Arista Winery is that they produce numerous Pinot Noirs sourced from quality vineyards from up and down California as well as Oregon. So, it is an excellent place to learn the distinctiveness of the terroir of these different appellations.
2013 Ferrington Vineyard Gewurstraminer, Anderson Valley
This is a clear white wine, pale straw in color with minor tint of green on the rim and low viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of spiced apples, canned pears, ripe peaches, lychee, and jasmine. On the palate it is dry with medium acid, medium body and a long finish with lingering tropical notes. This wine sells for $28 per bottle.
2012 Russian River Chardonnay
This is a clear white wine, straw in color with moderate intensity and medium+ viscosity. On the nose it is clean with medium intense aromas of fresh peach, yellow apples, tropical fruit, guava, caramelized pears with hints of marshmallow, butter, caramel, butterscotch and lingering notes of coconut oil. It is dry with a medium+ acidity, it is medium bodied with medium+ alcohol and a long finish. This is definitely a California-style Chardonnay and yet it is well balanced and not overly oaky or buttery. This wine sells for $46 per bottle.
2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
This is a clear ruby wine of moderate intensity and medium viscosity. On the nose it has subtle aromas of black cherries, hints of earth, clove and spice. On the palate it has medium- tannins, medium+ acidity and a medium length finish. It is often said that Pinot Noirs from Oregon can seem like a wine that has one foot in the Old World (like Burgundy) and one foot in the New World (like California), but from my experience in traveling through Oregon this isn’t always the case. Many Oregonian Pinots can seem very much like wines from Sonoma, Mendocino or the Russian River. Although it is a very fine wine this Pinot doesn’t have the hallmark Oregonian traits that I look for in wines from the Willamette Valley. This wine sells for $36 per bottle.
2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
This is a clear ruby colored wine with medium intensity and moderate+ viscosity. On the nose it has moderate aromas of ripe strawberries, plums, cherries with hints of clove, root beer, cinnamon, and spice. On the palate it is dry with medium tannins, medium+ acidity and a moderate length finish. I preferred this wine to the Willamete Valley Pinot Noir as it is more complex with a touch more spice and at $38 per bottle it is an excellent value.
2012 Longbow Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This is a clear ruby colored wine with medium intensity and moderate+ viscosity. On the nose it has moderate aromas of strawberry preserves, dry cinnamon stick, decaying roses, damp forest floor, clove and a hint of black pepper. Of all the Pinots I tasted, this was the earthiest in the line-up. It is dry with medium tannins, medium+ acidity and a medium length finish. This was my favorite wine in the line-up so I brought one home for $54.
2012 Mononi Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This is a clear ruby colored wine with medium intensity and moderate+ viscosity. On the nose it has moderate aromas of raspberries, cherries, plums, dry cinnamon stick, roses, clove and a hint of black pepper. It is dry with medium tannins, medium+ acidity and a medium length finish. This wine sells for $60 per bottle.
To see more pictures of Arista Winery check out Erik Wait's Photography at the following link:
To visit or for more information:
7015 Westside Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448