Wine fans, next time you find yourself day-tripping in Guerneville, but yoked to a boutique-hopping death march with family or companions, here’s the strategy: curios and ice cream for them, wine for you.
Until recently, picturesque Korbel was the only wine stop on the way into town; now Equality Vines anchors the town’s former Mercantile five-and-dime building with pride. The Bank Club Wine Collective takes a little more footwork to find—not that the sturdy artifact of the Beaux-Arts style it’s located in doesn’t make a statement on Main Street. Designed in 1921 by architect Carl Ingomar Warnecke, according to the historical plaque, the Bank of Guerneville building somehow survived 30 years of neglect until it was restored by Robert Anderson Pullum in 2015.
The tasting room is secreted away behind a Russian River Historical Society exhibit about the glory days of the river vacation wonderland, which in turn is tucked behind an ice cream shop, pie company and boutique gift shop. It’s got a small bar, tables for two, a lounge area and a nice little “library” of wine books to kill some time with.
The deeply fruited, chocolate and plum cordial–inflected Baldassari 2015 Russian River Pinot Noir ($42) comes from one of two family wineries in this collective. Both of them are bona fide winemakers’ wineries—that is, most of the principals have day jobs in the industry, and are not simply ordering up consultant-made juice like high-priced takeout (not that, you know, there’s anything wrong with that). Father-and-son team Dom Michael and Matt Michael run this outfit—the name’s a tribute to ancestor Vincenzo Baldassari. The rich and chocolatey 2015 Nolan Vineyard Bennett Valley Syrah ($35) is a tribute to this underappreciated varietal.
INIZI Wines, cofounded by A. J. and Jen Filipelli and John and Kirsti Harley, brings more of the unexpected to the table, rare Italian varietals like nutty, broadly acidic 2016 Tocai Friulano ($24), a Sangiovese blend, and 2014 Calistoga Charbono ($32), which brings old wine casks and leather to mind. The chewy palate is poised between acidic tang and puckery tannin, but this rare varietal is famously food-friendly. An old school California red with obscure origins, Charbono is grown on just 80 or so acres today. OK, so a curio for you, too.
Bank Club Wine Collective,
16290 Main St., Guerneville. Open Friday–Sunday, noon–5pm. Tasting fee, $15. 707.604.6938.