Woodenhead pulsar

Major Press Reviews - Current Releases

Two of our wines received GREAT REVIEWS in the December 2014 issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine.

90 points--2013 Russian River Valley, Wes Cameron Ranch, "Halfshell White" French Colombard
"This brisk, compact colombard comes from a 40-year-old planting in the heart of the Russian River Valley along River Road. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel with extended time on lees providing a texture that's round enough to hold its acidity and a spicy wildflower honey scent. Try it with salt cod brandade."

92 points--2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)
"This presents the rich, sweet red fruit that defines the Russian RIver with immpressive agility. It's concentrated but not heavy, a refreshing herbal tone lifting the sunny fruit at the edges. A delicious Russian River Pinot Noir to drink now with salmon."


Woodenhead 2013 Columbard, Russian River Valley, Wes Cameron Ranch

Woodenhead 2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

The PinotFile was the first online wine publication devoted to Pinot Noir.  The Prince of Pinot, a retired opthalmologist, has written many articles about Woodenhead pinots over the years and we invite you to read through these rich reviews. Click the image above to access our articles!

Woodenhead has done it AGAIN! Our 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot is featured in the January 2014 issue of Food & Wine! The article "Understanding Pinot Noir from the Groud Up" (pg 64) offers insight from California wine legend Burt Williams and features our 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir as a "Regional Star" on the following page!

Food & Wine Magazine

Ziggy 'The Wine Gal' Eschliman of KRSH put our 2009 Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine on her 2013 Holiday Wine Picks! YES!
"Crisp, Refreshing, Tasty, Racy, Tart Gravenstein Apple, Sexy, Succulent, Young Pear, Bone Dry."

Our French Colombard Sparkling Wine was recently featured in SF Gate's article A serious state for American sparkling wine by Jon Bonné

"Woodenhead's fizz, curiously based on French Colombard, remains a papery, crisp effort that's the perfect choice for oysters. A mineral kick defines it, with lemon zest, wet stones and thyme accents, and an intense green-apple freshness. Priced ambitiously, given the base material, but a unique Russian River expression."

Sonoma County Harvest Fair 2013

Woodenhead's 2010 Pinot Noir "Wet Kiss" won GOLD at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair wine tasting competition! 

Article textWoodenhead was featured in the October 2013 issue of Food & Wine as one of the 75 Best Wineries to Visit in California!! 

Woodenhead won big in the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition! Our newest 2010 Pinot Noir “Wet Kiss” won Double Gold. Our 2010 Bertoli Vineyard, Leras Ranches Zinfandel took silver!

Jay McInerney of the Wall Street Journal interviewed Burt Williams and gave Woodenhead a great review in the November 2012 issue. “Though he's retiring, Mr. Williams looks likely to keep influencing California wine through his protégés. A surrogate son is Nikolai Stez, who worked with Burt at WS for 17 years before going out on his own to create Woodenhead Cellars. Mr. Stez makes several distinct cuvées of ethereal, Burt-like Pinot Noirs in relatively tiny batches; despite his illustrious pedigree and the high quality of his wines, he has flown pretty much under the media radar for almost 15 years. Pinot lovers with a Burgundian bent who get on his mailing list will be doing themselves a big favor."

The link to the complete article is here, Cheers!

Food & Wine Magazine - October 2010


Why You Should Try a Wine Club
      By Pete Martin, pmartin@greenvillenews.com 2:59 p.m. EST January 12, 2015


If you drink enough wine, you'll eventually discover that every so often a special bottle of wine comes along — completely unexpectedly.

Well, maybe not completely.

If you open a bottle of wine from a respected winery, it's reasonable to expect the wine to be at least decent. Sometimes, however, I find a bottle of wine that's just so surprising that it makes me sit up and take notice.

During the holiday weekend, this happened with a bottle of pinot noir, a 2010 Woodenhead Mendocino Ridge. I often talk about how there are some really good pinots available for $15 – $20. MacMurray Ranch, Austerity, Carmel Road, Adelsheim, Mossback and others make some reasonably priced pinots that offer excellent value.

But this $32 bottle of pinot that I received as part of a wine club shipment was special. Yes, it cost twice as much as one of those really good pinots, but I'd argue this wine offered way more than I had a right to expect for the price. This wine had a deep, cherry-red color, and a perfect balance of fruit, earth and tannins.

I served this wine with a salmon cake appetizer followed by grilled salmon, crisp green beans and a mixed-green salad. I couldn't have asked for a better food-wine pairing.

Admittedly, most of us can't afford to open a $32 bottle of wine every night. But when the occasion is right, it's nice to have a special bottle of wine. It's even nicer when that bottle of wine turns out to be really, really good.

Woodenhead Vintners is a small winemaker in Sonoma County led by winemaker Nikolai Stez. Stez started making wine in college back in the 1980s. Woodenhead specializes in pinot noir and zinfandel. I've tasted both, and Stez obviously knows what he's doing.

Though that 2012 Mendocino Ridge is no longer available, there are 10 pinots currently listed on the Woodenhead website, from $42 to $65 per bottle. Most wines are accompanied by a thorough description, which makes choosing a bit easier. The wines are not available locally, but can be ordered on the website.

Woodenhead, like many other wineries, also has a wine club. Wine clubs generally offer discounts to members — sometimes as much as 20 percent. If you've never joined a wine club, I encourage you to do so. You'll save some money on your purchases, but more importantly, you will experience new wines often unavailable locally or at retail.

If a wine club sounds like fun, here are five wineries to consider. Most offer several membership options.

Woodenhead Vintners: A good choice if you love pinot noir or zinfandel. www.woodenheadwine.com

David Coffaro Estate Vineyard: This Sonoma County winery offers reasonably priced wines, including syrah, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon and red blends. www.coffaro.com

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards: This Oregon winery makes some excellent whites as well as solid pinots. www.reustlevineyards.com

Standing Stone Vineyards: This winery offers some of my favorite New York state wines. The whites are especially notable. www.standingstonewines.com

Gopfrich Estate Vineyard: This small winery in the northern Dry Creek Valley appellation of Sonoma County offers limited production wines that are completely produced on site, from vineyard to bottle. www.gopfrich.com

Wine List: This week's wine picks

February 2, 2014

Our 2012 French Colombard is featured on Peg Melnik's wine list in The Press Democrat! 

"An easy to drink white with great balance.  What makes it a standout is the bright fruit coupled with its lush, silky texture. Lingering finish.  A tasty budget white."

Woodenhead was featured in the October 2013 issue of Food & Wine as one of the 75 Best Wineries to Visit in California!

On Saturday, December 22nd, 2012, we lost a member of the Woodenhead family, Yarrow Lubbe. She was a happy soul, with many friends and many interests. Her kindness, energy and enthusiasm for life will be deeply missed. The tasting room shined with her at work, may her star always burn bright.


From this Earth she does pass
Into God’s arms and the Heavens alas
We will surely miss
So we send her this farewell kiss

From all of us at Woodenhead

Doug Wilder, Publisher of Purely Domestic Wine Report, gave great reviews of 3 of our wines in Issue 6, Sept. 2012:

2007 Zinfandel, Martinelli Road Vineyard Old Vine, Russian River Valley (88 points)

"A big sweet black fruit nose with berry, dark cherry, salt and plum. The palate is ripe and heavy with cherry, dark berry and Christmas candy: clove and cinnamon. Lots of fruit extraction on the finish... Drink 2012–2017."

2009 Zinfandel, Guido Venturi Vineyard, Mendocino County (91 points)

"Tart red raspberry and cherry on the nose with a honey and pie crust note. The palate has a smooth nectarine, cherry and tobacco combination. The finish is solid cherry with tea-like tannins. Drink 2012–2017."

2009 Zinfandel, Braccialini Vineyard, Alexander Valley (90 points)

"Shows a spicy black cherry nose with some blue fruit elements. The palate is richly sculpted with black walnut, cherry and baking spice on the finish. Drink 2012-2016."

Woodenhead at ZAP Festival

"I’ve been following Nikolai Stez’s career for a long time. He was assistant winemaker at Williams-Selyem before launching his own label. He makes delicious Pinots, Syrahs and Zins. I was very sorry to hear that the vines that were the source of the tasty Braccialini bottling were ripped out this year. Pictured on the right is Nick’s business partner Zina Bower, and on the left is her buddy Erin, who also happens to be a longtime friend of mine.

From RJonWine.com

Written by Richard Jennings

Two of our Zinfandels received top ratings in The Bohemian December 1, 2010 issue. James Knight writes:

"Selecting from a few personal favorites and a mixed bag of likely candidates... blind tasted by a hard-to-please crew of eight... Woodenhead was the standout favorite."

San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate Magazine did another great article on Woodenhead's French Colombard!

Michele Anna Jordan, food and wine writer for the The Press Democrat newspaper of Sonoma County calls our French Colombard "the single best oyster wine I've tasted" !

Dry Creek Kitchen's sommelier Drew Munro has featured Woodenhead's 2006 Martinelli Road Vineyard Old-Vine Zinfandel in Charlie Palmer's September 2010 Newsletter!

"Williams Selyem alumni and Woodenhead winemaker Nikolai Stez's main focus is Pinot Noir, and it shows with this delicious Zinfandel from the Martinelli Road Vineyard. It is dense and rich but soft and silky, exhibiting rich flavors of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, violets, and a slight bit of pepper supported by fine-grained tannins to give it a solid structure and age-ability."

San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate Magazine did a great feature article on Woodenhead!

Ray Isle, Wine Editor of Food & Wine Magazine calls Woodenhead the "Great Unknown Pinot Noir" in his latest blog!

Pinot Cup at the 2010 Pigs & PinotWoodenhead's 2007 Pinot Noir, Buena Tierra Vineyard won the Pinot Cup at the Pigs & Pinot event at Dry Creek Kitchen on March 19!!

Watch KTVU's video coverage of the event and awards!

See the "Woodenhead a Winner" article in the Press Democrat Newspaper on the event!

"The Pinot Cup is a Pinot Noir competition where 50 hand-picked Pinot Noirs compete in a blind-tasting competition to award the best of the best by a renowned judging panel including top wine media personalities: Ray Isle, wine editor of Food & Wine magazine, Virginie Boone, wine writer for Press Democrat and Rusty Gaffney, founder of The Pinot File."

Thank you Sonoma County Bohemian Magazine readers for voting us Best Tasting Room in Sonoma County and Best Pinot Noir (honorable mention) in the Bohemian's Best of 2010!

Woodenhead was featured on My Daily Grape of Ustream, the largest Internet-TV broadcast in the world!

We had a great write-up in The Bohemian Dec 30, 2009 issue's Year in Review article.

ZAP Tasting 2009 gave our 2006 Martinelli Road Russian River Valley Zinfandel their top score!

2009 Pigs & Pinot Smackdown

We poured our Troika Pinot Noir at Charlie Palmer's 4th annual Pigs & Pinot "Smackdown" on March 21, 2009, and we came in 1st place!!!

"On Saturday afternoon, Pigs & Pinot participants attended The Ultimate Pinot Smackdown Seminar led by master sommeliers Keith Goldston, Fred Dame, Drew Hendricks, and William Sherer. Each Master Sommelier entered his personal selection of 4 Pinot Noirs from around the world. Four heats later, the audience ultimately chose Woodenhead as their favorite."

The Bohemian "Best of the North Bay 2009" - March 2009
Thank you Sonoma County Bohemian Magazine readers for voting us the Best Winetasting Room Honorable Mention and Best Syrah in Sonoma County for the Bohemian's "Best of the North Bay 2009"!!

See our Review Archives page for reviews and awards of our past vintages.

Woodenhead grape crates


2010 West Coast Wine Competition
Gold Medal, 2006 Zinfandel, Martinelli Road Vineyard

2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Awards
Gold Medal, 2006 Zinfandel, Martinelli Road Vineyard
Silver Medal, 2006 Pinot Noir, Buena Tierra
Silver Medal, 2006 Pinot Noir, Wiley Vineyard
Silver Medal, 2006 Zinfandel, Braccialini Vineyard
Bronze Medal, 2006 Pinot Noir, Fruitland Ridge
Bronze Medal, 2006 Zinfandel, Guido Venturi

SF Wine Competition

2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Awards
Gold Medal, 2004 Zinfandel, Martinelli Road Vineyard Old Vine
Silver Medal, 2005 Zinfandel, Braccialini Vineyard
Bronze Medal, 2005 Pinot Noir, Humboldt County
Bronze Medal, 2005 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley