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Russian River Valley and Hanna Wines

The Russian River Valley is a designated AVA* that resides within the larger Northern Sonoma AVA. AVAs located with a larger AVA share the characteristics of that AVA but also have a more unique set of attributes that further define that specific smaller portion of the region. It could be the soil type, the weather patterns or any number of things. The AVA that appears on the bottle is always the one that represents where the vineyards are precisely located. As such, the smaller AVA will always trump the larger if the vines all reside within the smaller (or sub) AVA.

Map Courtesy of Sonoma County Winegrowers

Russian River Valley Hanna Winery Selectionsrussian river valley

Last fall when attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, I was honored to participate in a blogger’s lunch at Hanna Winery. I wrote about that lunch, and if you missed that post, you could check it out here. After tasting pretty much there entire line up of current vintages, I knew I had to place an order. While I would have loved to have brought home several other bottles of the lineup, I kept it to just the four of my highest score wines; ranging from 2-4 bottles of each until I reached a case. It does not surprise me that all four are from the RRV AVA. I have had an affinity for this region for many years being a huge Pinot Noir drinker. But let’s start with the two white wines I brought home with me. Here we go…

Hanna Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Russian River Valley, Sonoma

As I have said before, it took me decades to learn that there were white wines that I would enjoy. Truth be told, Sauvignon Blancs were not cutting it for me. That is until my two trips out to Northern California when it changed that in a big way. And this wine was the very first one. It really surprised me. This wine is not a New Zealand style of Sauv Blanc. I find the majority of those to be overly grapefruity and grassy. Not all, of course, but most that I have tried. Based on my further tasting of California Sauv. Blancs I would consider this to be classic Californian.

This wine is a crystal clear pale yellow with just a smidge of green. It is bright and fresh. The moderately zingy acidity cleanses the palate as it should but is not overpowering. The primary flavors fall in the lemon and lime citrus family with just a hint of grapefruit. I am not a big fan of grapefruit flavor in wine, however, in this wine, it is minimal and more of a back note. The finish is smooth and well balanced.

While the 2016 vintage is a thing of the past, the 2017 vintage is now widely available. This is one of the Hanna wines that has national distribution. You should find it at many local wine stores as well as Total Wine where it sells for $11.00 per bottle.

More information on the 2017 vintage here: Hanna Sauvignon Blanc

russian river valleyHanna Chardonnay 2015 Russian River Valley, Sonoma

My husband and my sister steered me to the traditional California Chardonnay that is heavily oaked and buttered. It was not to my liking, so I stood clear of the Chardonnay available in my house. With my more open mind while in California I began sampling a wide variety of Chardonnays. What I found was that I liked unoaked and lightly oaked Chards. I also preferred a medium body with some texture, so a bit of time on the lees is acceptable, if not preferred.

This Hanna Chardonnay plays right in that wheelhouse. It is creamy but not buttery. It is oaked but nicely integrated. Flavors I detect include pear and lemon. It has a lingering caramel finish. I loved it. For quality RRV Chardonnay this is a great value.

Again, I had the previous 2015 vintage, but the 2016 vintage reads similarly. The 2016 Hanna RRV Chardonnay is also nationally distributed. It sells at Total Wine for $21.99 or directly from the winery for $29

More information on the 2016 vintage here: Hanna 2016 Chardonnay



russian river valley

Now we come to Hanna Pinot Noir. You will not find these wines through any national distribution channel. They are made in small batches and sold exclusively through the winery.

When I pour a glass of Pinot Noir, I have some preconceived notions about what I want. I want a medium bodied russian river valleywine. I do not want to see through the wine in the glass. A generous, silky, or velvety feel in the mouth is highly desired. This style is indeed not all Pinot Noir and perhaps not what some may consider “a great Pinot.”  Lighter bodied Pinots have a place, and there are many great producers of that style. But in this case, I want what I want.

2014 Hanna Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, Sonoma

Hanna Pinot Noirs fit my expectations very well.

As you can see when I say its a small-batch wine, they made only 399 cases. That is only 4788 bottles which do not go very far. The limited quantity of this quality wine justifies the $49.00 price point. It is well worth it.

The 2014 vintage is a deep garnet color. The primary aroma and flavor are of bing cherry and a touch of spice. A bit of smokiness is also on the palate as the wine finishes. It is soft and pleasant but smoky nonetheless. The acidity is very well balanced. The tannins are firm but not gripping. They do linger for your enjoyment.

For me, this wine, at this age, is a food wine.  Laying it down for a few more years should soften the tannins. I have one more bottle so I am not touching it so that nature can do its thing.

From the winemaker:

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
Clone Selections: Dijon clone 667; Cambria, Torrez, Mondavi selections
Harvest Dates: Sept 1, and 4, 2014
Fermentation: Indigenous yeast, 6-9 days skin contact
Malolactic fermentation: 100%
Length/Type of Aging: 10 months in 60-gallon oak barrels
Oak Types: 44% new French oak from Marcel Cadet, Nadalie, Billon and Remond cooperages.
Bottling Date: August 7, 2015

Sold only through the winery, you can get more information and order it here.

russian river valley2014 Elias Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma

The Elias brand is the top tier label at Hanna. It is the first name of the founder, Dr. Elias Hanna who founded the winery in 1985.

According to the winemaker, the 2014 growing season was textbook perfect in the Russian River Valley; substantiating the mantra of warm days and cool nights.

Wow, drinking this wine was a real treat. The color is dark purple and densely opaque fading to clear on the edges. As I like to say, this wine is very huggable with a big velvety mouthfeel and mild, pleasant tannins. You are in for a mellow experience with this bottle. It also is quite juicy with an acidity that keeps your mouth lubricated and wet.

I get dark fruits like plums and dark cherries on the nose. Followed by bing cherries, baked caramel and a mild spiciness on the palate. I also get an earthiness and a touch of ash. The mildly oaked and brewed tea finish stays with you. This is divinity in wine.

Yields allowed for 535 cases of this wine. The 2014 Elias Pinot Noir is only sold through the winery for $58.00 a bottle.

You can get additional information here: 2014 Elias Pinot Noir.


From the winemaker:

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
Vineyard Location: Hanna Home Ranch. Russian River Valley Appellation
Age of Vines: 6-22 years
Clone Selections: Dijon clone 667; Cambria, Torrez, Mondavi selections
Fermentation: 4-5 days cold maceration; indigenous yeasts. Eight days skin contact
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Length/Type of Aging: 10 months in French Oak
Oak Types: 59% new French oak from Marcel Cadet, and Remond cooperages.


AVA = American Viticultural Area. It is the equivalent to AOC in France or DOC in Italy, etc.
When a U.S. winery wants to tell you the geographic pedigree of its wine, it uses a tag on its label called an Appellation of Origin. Appellations are defined either by political boundaries, such as the name of a county, state or country or by federally-recognized regions called American Viticultural Areas. Within the larger Northern Sonoma AVA, there are 15 AVAs or sub-AVAs. Russian River Valley is one of these AVAs.

That is all for now.



russian river valley
               Click on the image to take you to Amazon for purchase.



  1. I stopped off at Hanna on the way to the airport last year after the WBC. I was very pleased with all their wines. I really did enjoy the Sauvignon Blanc and have sought it out at Total Wine.

    • Great price at TW!

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