Est. 1975

Wines

 
 

Wines

At Dehlinger, our focus is on estate-grown wines with strong varietal and regional character. We produce wine in very limited quantities, bottling only 7000 cases of wine annually. If you are interested in acquiring Dehlinger wines, we encourage you to join our mailing list.

 

Pinot Noir          Chardonnay          Syrah          Cabernet Sauvignon

 
 
 

Pinot Noir

Dehlinger Pinot noirs, sourced from our estate vineyards on Vine Hill Road, are considered a reference point for the variety in the Russian River Valley. Luscious and balanced, with a striking purity of fruit, these wines capture the potential of this great winegrowing region. 

The 25 acres of Pinot noir vines were planted in two main groupings: the first between 1975-1989, and the second between 2011-2014. The clones of Pinot noir are primarily Pommard and Swan, with smaller amounts of Martini, Clone 943, Calera, and Mount Eden. The property thus features a diversity of vine ages, soil types, and clones, and our winemaking approach centers on studying individual sections of land and the wines they produce.

In a typical vintage, we ferment some 25 different lots (or batches) of Pinot noir, each composed of grapes grown on separate areas of the Dehlinger property, allowing the wine from each area of the vineyard to express its unique topography. As the wines develop in barrel, we are tasked with finding the most harmonious combinations of these distinct lots by creating blends that highlight the best traits the vintage has to offer.

We aim to produce Pinot noirs that showcase the special features of our property — be it soil type, vine age, or vineyard block. Through our blending process, we create two soil-designated Pinot noirs each vintage which are named for the two main soil types in which our Pinot vines grow: Goldridge Pinot Noir and Altamont Pinot Noir. Dehlinger's Goldridge Pinot Noir, with its bright aromatics, appealing red fruit flavor profile and approachable structure, pays homage to the deeper goldridge soils where the vines tend to grow more vigorously. Dehlinger's Altamont Pinot Noir celebrates the hilltop sections of the vineyard, where red, clay-rich altamont soil dominates. The Altamont Pinot Noir showcases darker fruit flavors and enticing baking-spice aromas, and the inclusion of a small amount of whole clusters in the fermentation lends greater structure and enhanced aging potential in this sought-after wine.

When the quantity and quality of a given vintage permit, we will highlight specific portions of the vineyard with special bottlings. Octagon is our oldest special bottling, named for the vineyard surrounding The Octagon, an eight-sided house Tom Dehlinger built in the 1970s. The Champ de Mars is a section of vineyard with a soil color reminiscent of the red surface of the planet Mars, and the special Pinot bottling named for this section combines some of the oldest and youngest vines on the property. High Plains originates from a privileged, high-elevation section of our vineyard planted in 1989, whose dry soils produce especially densely-flavored fruit. Renatus is a selection of wines made from our youngest generation of Pinot vines, which produce a dark, structured wine that serves as a counter point to the various “Old Vine” bottlings we have offered over the years. Some vintages we have combined our top lots under the designation Reserve.

We have added a wine simply labeled “Russian River Valley” to the Dehlinger portfolio in recent years. This wine, also from grapes grown on our Vine Hill Road property, demonstrates the authentic character of our region.

 

Chardonnay

Dehlinger has long been recognized for its Russian River Valley Chardonnays, which are known for their balance, fresh acidity, and unctuous flavor.

Today, Dehlinger produces a single Estate Chardonnay bottling each vintage, originating from our eight acres of Chardonnay vines planted between 1975 and 1988. These old vines, grown in the region’s classic goldridge series soils, are grafted to the California heritage “Wente” clone, which produces small clusters and berries and has a notable minerality and almost oily viscosity.

Dehlinger’s Chardonnays are crafted using traditional techniques which preserve the flavor and elegance of the variety. At harvest, the grapes are picked at night, brought cold into the winery and “whole cluster pressed” to extract the highest quality juice. From there, the juice is fermented in French oak barrels using native yeasts. The wine gains further complexity through malolactic fermentation and a year of aging on the lees. Dehlinger has been bottling its Chardonnays “Unfiltered” since the late 1990s in order to capture the full flavor potential and most pleasing texture possible.

 
 

Syrah

Ageworthy and expressive, Dehlinger Syrahs remain a favorite of the Dehlinger family and our winemaking team nearly three decades after we grafted a small portion of our vineyard to the variety in 1990.

Our three acres of Syrah thrive on their hillside location. The lush growth and pendulous clusters of these vines attest to how well the grape adapts to growing in the Russian River Valley: the region’s cooling fog helps the variety retain a spicy, complex character, while the morning sun allows the grape to achieve ripeness and flavor.

In the cellar, our Syrah is fermented in open-top tanks and “punched down” to extract the maximum character of the grape. Thereafter, the wine develops slowly over two years and is aged in large 132-gallon French oak puncheons. Twice the volume of a standard barrel, the puncheons permit a longer, slower maturation. They also create a more delicate oak profile which showcases the varietal power of our wines. With this treatment, our Syrah retains the variety’s flavor potential, which unfurls and evolves over time.

We produce two Syrahs from our estate annually: Goldridge Syrah and Altamont Syrah, which both pay homage to the two soil types that traverse our property. Periodically, the east-facing portion of the vineyard is showcased and bottled separately as the Reserve-level East Face Syrah, a particularly concentrated bottling named for the driest sections of the block where the grapes are grown.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Characterful and complex, Dehlinger’s cool-climate Estate Cabernet Sauvignon bears a resemblance to the classically balanced, cassis-scented wines of Bordeaux.

Dehlinger is home to one of the few vineyards in the coastal Russian River Valley that grows Cabernet Sauvignon. Our current four and a half acres of the variety were planted in 1982 and 1983, and are positioned on a privileged piece of red, gravelly soil that faces south and invites the autumn sun. Careful viticulture and meticulous thinning of crop load are necessary to grow successful Cabernet in our region, and our hillside Cabernet vines ripen at the very end of the growing season, with the cold nights and mild days of late October.

The rich texture and full flavors of the grape are extracted over the course of a two-week-long fermentation before the new wine is placed in barrel. Over the two year period that the wine is maturing in cask, it is “racked” four times — that is, transferred from one barrel to another — to allow the wine to breathe. This process develops the flavors and moderates the natural tannin of the Cabernet grape. After two years in barrel, the wine is bottled and then allowed to age another year. The result is an intense and complex wine intended to create years of enjoyment.

Growing the Cabernet grape has become a part of our heritage over the last 40 years. Made in limited quantities available only to our mailing list, Dehlinger Cabernet is one of the winery’s best kept secrets.