Kobler Estate Winery and Vineyards has been growing syrah and viognier in the cool, misty western corner of the Russian River Valley in the Green Valley AVA since the ’90s.
If the vineyard name seems familiar, that is likely due to the fact that wineries like Pax and Donelan have worked with Kobler’s syrah for many years and love to champion the uniqueness of Kobler’s distinctive, cool climate influenced site.
While most vineyards were investing in planting pinot noir or chardonnay, Michael Kobler; his brother, Otto; and their wives, Debbie and Barbara, first planted syrah (4-4.5 acres) on their Green Valley AVA vineyard site in the mid-’90s.
So why focus on Rhône varieties? The Koblers loved the syrah and syrah-viognier fermented wines they’d tasted from the northern Rhône and saw the potential for these varieties in the Green Valley AVA. This was due to its cooler temperatures, lingering fog and Gold Ridge soils (as opposed to elsewhere in the Russian River Valley, where temperatures get warmer, the fog burns off more quickly and there are different soil types). They were intent upon becoming a premium producer of Rhône varieties in the Russian River Valley. And they have done so.
From Growers to Makers
While the first 10 years at Kobler were dedicated to growing and farming the best fruit possible, and forming partnerships with select wineries who would purchase their fruit, Michael Kobler’s sons, Mike and Brian, decided it was time to launch their own winery in 2010. They started with a few hundred cases that year and are now making around 1,400. The expectation is to grow a little bit more each year, though the plan is never to get very big.
Eldest Kobler son Brian is currently the winemaker. And while the estate only produces 1,400 cases, he makes 10 different wines, with a focus on small-lot wines that highlight different appellations and single vineyard sites.
The winery offers three different tasting experience options, including an appellation series tasting, a single vineyard tasting and a tasting flight curated to pair with caviar. All visits include a walk in the vineyards before starting the tasting. Tasting flights include between five and six wines. Both the appellation and single vineyard tastings include a cheese and charcuterie board. These experiences normally last between 90 minutes and two hours.
To make an appointment to visit the estate and taste, guests can go to the winery’s website and select a day and time (from Thursday to Sunday) on their calendar. As this is a small, family owned and operated business where the owner or winemaker will normally be the one leading the tastings, it’s necessary to make a reservation at least 48 hours in advance for wine tastings and at least seven days in advance for the caviar and wine tasting experience.
Kobler Estate Winery and Vineyards, 4630 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Graton. koblerestatewinery.com.