To spend a day in northern California’s Russian River Valley is to love it. Pillowy morning fog nestles between the rows of a vineyard. Pickups rattle down narrow, windy country roads. The dog roaming around the parking lot of the winery tasting room is always allowed inside.
Washington, D.C.-area folks will have the opportunity to enjoy the sites and tastes of this premier Sonoma County wine region on Wednesday, Feb. 6, when filmmaker Joe Nugent brings his film “From Obscurity to Excellence: The Story of Grapes and Wine in the Russian River Valley,” to the Letelier Theater in Georgetown. Tastings of sought-after wines from the Russian River Valley will be included in the $15 ticket.
The Russian River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is renown for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, its perfect grape-growing weather and the down-to-earth nature of its people. The growers consider themselves farmers, many who've been farming the same land for generations, and the winemakers are mavericks who tried things with wine that surprised everyone, including themselves.
Nugent’s film tells the tale of this region’s rise from an undervalued backwater to an AVA whose name on a label increases the price tag. It’s a one-hour history lesson on the area’s settlement by Italian immigrants, struggles after Prohibition and blossoming as a premier wine region. Nugent, a Russian River Valley grower himself until he recently sold his vineyard, snagged interviews with legendary growers and winemakers like Joe Rochioli, Jr., Davis Bynum and Burt Williams of Williams Selyem.
Nugent is bringing his movie to Georgetown’s 85-seat Letelier Theater as part of an American Grand Cru Society event. American Grand Cru Society is an organization hoping to recognize and identify best-in-class American vineyards. The Society will be serving wine tastings from Williams Selyem, Hook & Ladder and Lauterbach Cellars.