The Bottom Line
- Interviews and decades of tastings pay off in vivid depth
- Candid photo portraits bring winemakers and geologists to life
- Attention to geologic history is unusual for a wine book
- Maps are only adequate
- Does not address the upper river in Mendocino County
- Interest limited to wine geeks and Bay Area residents
- Geography, geology and history get equal billing with winemakers
- Decades of visits and tasting notes inform a treatment in depth
- Interviews, photos and character portraits include both geologists and winegrowers
Guide Review - A Wine Journey along the Russian River by Steve Heimoff
The peculiar geologic events that gave rise to the river we know include volcanism, stream capture and the passage of a tectonic slab window. Today's rivercourse threads a bewilderment of microclimates and soils in which winegrowers are still feeling their way, from the heights and heat of the Alexander Valley, past Chalk Hill and Green Valley, to the windswept Sonoma Coast fog belt near Jenner. Heimoff makes a game foray into cutting-edge geologic research and acquits himself pretty well, thanks to some smart geologists who are wine-country specialists.
It takes more than great geology to make great wine. The bulk of Heimoff's book goes into the human history of the river valley and the generations of winegrowers that gave this region its well-deserved reputation.
The same wine drinker who appreciates clone trivia will get from this book a good dose of the geology that forms the basis of the terroir. And the geologist who loves wine will learn of some special localities to consider visiting during a wine-tasting sojourn in this special place.