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Mueller: Over 20 Years of Excellence in the Russian River Valley

When talk turns to the established wineries of the Russian River Valley, the names Gary Farrell, Rochioli, and Williams Selyem are often trumpeted. Less well known, but no less accomplished, is Mueller Winery, founded by Robert Mueller in 1991.

Robert received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and worked at Paul Masson Champagne Cellars in Saratoga as a chemist. He soon made the decision to become a winemaker and attended the University of California at Davis where he earned a masters degree in food science and enology. After graduation, he worked as a winemaker at Foppiano Winery, Charles Krug Winery, Pirelli-Minetti Winery, and in 1981, he became the Director of Winemaking for Souverain Winery. Three years later, he founded his own wine consulting business. In 1991, he launched Robert Mueller Cellars with the production of 315 cases of “LB” Russian River Valley Chardonnay. The first “Emily’s Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was produced from the 1994 vintage and became the winery’s flagship bottling. Initially the winery was located in Healdsburg, ten years later it was relocated to Windsor, and in 2013 returned to Healdsburg.



A new tasting room opened June 1, 2013, across from the Raven Performing Arts Center in Healdsburg at 118 North Street. It is open Thursday through Monday. The Mueller Starr Road winery facility in Windsor was sold in May 2013, and production was moved for the 2013 harvest to a new modern winery, Punchdown Cellars, a custom crush facility in Santa Rosa. Production is about 4,000 cases annually. The winery is largely a two person operation with Robert handling the cellar and production duties, while his spouse Lori manages sales, accounting and compliance work. Mueller wines are available in the tasting room, on the website at www.muellerwine.com, and throughout the United States through retail channels.

Mueller is best known for Pinot Noir, but produces several other varietals based on grapes sourced from the Russian River Valley. The Pinot Noirs are lush, extravagantly fruity wines exhibiting the bright cherry and cola flavors and moderately high alcohols that are the hallmarks of warmer Middle Reach Russian River Valley vineyard sites. The wines are comparable in style to J. Rochioli, Merry Edwards and Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Grapes are typically picked at or above 25º Brix at harvest, 100% de-stemmed, fermented in 2-ton custom fermenting tanks using both indigenous and inoculated yeasts, and aged in 30% to 40% new French oak barrels.

Mueller’s Pinot Noir vineyard sources are Vino Farms located east of Eastside Road (see map below). Vino Farms is one of California’s largest wine grape growers along with Bronco and Gallo.



The 2011 “Harvest of Long Faces” produced solid wines from Mueller.



2011 Mueller Emily’s Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.60, 412 cases, $48. Produced from a vineyard farmed by Vino Farms near the banks of the Russian River directly across the river from Rochioli and Allen Vineyards in the Middle Reach of the appellation. Clones 667, 115, 777 and 2A. Harvest Brix 25.2º. 100% de-stemmed, indigenous yeast fermentation, aged in 33% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, fully ripened strawberries, baking spices and oak vanillin lead to moderately rich flavors of Bing cherries, cola and spice. Round and polished, gentle and agreeable, with mild tannins and good underlying acidity, finishing with a burst of cherry. Like the most popular girl in school: smells wonderful and is very likable. Score: 90

2011 Mueller Eastside Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.60, 85 cases, $48. Clones 667, 115, 2A planted on Eastside Road in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley. Harvest Brix 25º. 100% destemmed, aged in 34% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Fruity nose offering aromas of grapes, plums and blueberries. Rich and velvety on the palate with an array of blue and purple fruits with a hint of dark chocolate and oak. Easy to drink with balanced tannins and a soothing finish. Pleasant but not memorable. Score: 88

2011 Mueller Tempi Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.50, 146 cases, $48. Produced from a select vineyard block of Dijon 777 situated on a well-drained, gravelly site that is part of Vino Farms. The block is located less than one mile from the Russian River and directly across the river from Rochioli and Allen vineyards in the Middle Reach of the appellation. Harvest Brix 25.0º. 100% de-stemmed. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. Bright nose featuring aromas of Bing cherries, cola, balsam and floral perfume. Rich, luscious and full-bodied on the palate, yet soft and polished, offering flavors of black cherries, black raspberries and black plum, finishing on a high note with plenty of spiced fruit. The vivid fruit in this wine elevates it to a higher level. Score: 92

2011 Mueller Cuvée X Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.80, 68 cases, $48. Produced from a select vineyard block of Martini 15 and most Dijon clones located on Saralee’s Vineyard in the Middle Reach of the appellation. Normally this wine is crafted solely from the Martini clone, but the source in 2011 suffered untimely · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of blackberry jam, black cherry liquor and dark rose petals. Rich and flavorful, with intense black cherry and dark berry fruits with sous-bois and oak adding to the cadence. The sappy fruit is nicely balanced by broad shouldered tannins. Score: 91

2011 Mueller August Recher Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.1% alc., pH 3.60, 138 cases, $48. Produced from clones 667 and 777 planted in Vino Farms vineyard situated in the Middle Reach of the appellation. Harvest Brix 25.2º. 100% de-stemmed. Aged in 35% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal aromas of ripe Bing cherries, cassis and complimentary oak. Rich and delicious, with deep cherry flavor and a complimentary oak sheen. Oozing luscious sap, but still soft, gentle and juicy with a seamless character. The finish is noteworthy for its palate staining, generous fruit statement. Judged on power with class, this wine stands out from the crowd. Score: 93

2011 Mueller Hogan’s Run Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 78 cases, $48. Named for the winery’s beloved black Labrador retriever, Hogan, this 6-acre hillside vineyard owned by Susie and Fred Sedlacek. Inaugural release from this vineyard. Clone 667. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Very shy nose showing demure aromas of dark cherries and berries. The palate is well ahead of the nose, strutting a full-bodied, sappy core of very ripe black cherry fruit with a hint of cola and wood spice. The prodigious fruit is clothed in muscled tannins. Amazing persistence on the long, and I mean long, cherryinfused finish. Score: 91

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