Wine Tasting at Iron Horse Vineyards

Driving on the narrow country road shadowed by overgrown plants up to Iron Horse Vineyards leaves you unprepared for what you'll see when you top the hill and turn the corner: A welcoming driveway of majestic palm trees and one of the best views in the Russian River Valley.

Our entire experience tasting at Iron Horse Vineyards felt like this kind of contrast. We tasted highly regarded sparkling wines while we leaned on plank tables supported by barrels. While some fellow tasters rushed their experience at this busy winery, others relaxed on benches and enjoyed the views.

Iron Horse Vineyards is in the Green Valley AVA, a tiny appellation within the Russian River Valley AVA with eight major wineries and 100 growers. Like the Russian River Valley, Green Valley is defined by fog. But Green Valley has fog "first, longest and last," according to our wine host and the vineyard's tasting room manager Lisa Macek, who made our tasting experience truly enjoyable. Lisa has been with Iron Horse Vineyards a long time and knew pretty much everything. If you can, try to hook up with this excellent wine host.


Most of the Green Valley is visible from Iron Horse Vineyards, which has a sweeping hilltop view of 350 acres of grapevines. And you never have to leave that view because -- quite intelligently -- the tasting room is outdoors. We've never been to an outdoor tasting room, but instantly loved the casualness of it. Iron Horse has propped rustic planks on old wine barrels and provided benches on the edge of the hill. Tastings you don't finish they encourage you to pour on the grass, rather than having pour buckets that can attract flies. The whole spirit of the place invites you to relax and enjoy.

Iron Horse Vineyards is known for its sparkling wines. When we visited, we tried tasting flights that mixed still and sparkling wines.

Celeste Gantz with tasting room manager Lisa Macek
Celeste Gantz with tasting room manager Lisa Macek

Some of our favorites were:

  • 2008 Fairy Tale Cuvée -- This sparkly Blanc de Noir is made exclusively for Disney and is available if you choose to have a Disney wedding. We've decided that if that's what it takes to get your hands on this bottle, it's worth it. Made entirely of Pinot Noir grapes, it was a pale wine because they immediately removed the skins. This wine was dry but still tasted of rich fruit.
  • 2009 Rued Clone Chardonnay
  • 2011 Russian River Pinot Noir

A Slideshow of Our Day at Iron Horse Vineyards



  • For more information on Iron Horse Vineyards.
  • Intimidated by the tasting room experience? Check out Celeste's guide for wine tasting newbies.