Sonoma County region
An impressive winery lead by its revered and universally respected owner and winemaker
Robert Mueller’s name is bantered about California’s top wineries as much as any modern-day wine industry figure - with good reason. As Owner/Winemaker of Sonoma County’s Mueller Winery, Bob Mueller’s formula for success has shaped the fortunes of many fledgling wineries.
Now a youngish 64, Mueller’s production is around 3,000 cases per annum, a level at which the winemaker is very comfortable. “Our small production allows me to spend some time in the vineyards,” offered Mueller. “And since my wife Lori and I do practically all of the work with our wines, if we attempted to produce more we would have a hard time.”
Throughout his storied career, Bob Mueller has enjoyed the challenge of making the Pinot Noir. “When we first started our own winery in the early 1990’s we initially made Chardonnay. It was soon apparent to us that the Pinot Noir was an important varietal that we both enjoyed immensely. At the time, it wasn’t that popular and only a few winemakers were even attempting it. We started making it and had some success. Today we make six different Pinot Noirs, and each one is slightly different from the other,” he explained.
Mueller stated that he feels the Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and vinify, but not really different from other varietals. “Each varietal has its own set of rules,” he continued. You work with it for a few years and you finally understand what’s required to make it correctly.”
Industry insiders point to Mueller’s precise methods of farming and winemaking attention for his products as keys to his success. Awards and plaudits have been numerous and his wines are almost always oversold and on an allocation basis.
Another factor in the perpetuation of Robert Mueller Winery is the simple fact that he is keenly aware of the price/value relationship of wines. “We really haven’t changed our pricing since we started the winery,” added Mueller. “I’m not sure that many of our competitors can say the same about their wines’ pricing.”
An interesting tidbit concerning this month’s Pinot Noir selection, the Mueller Russian River Valley Cuvée Pinot Noir. “When we first started with the project, we hadn’t decided on a name for it. Our printer suggested we use Cuvée X until we came up with a name. As we approached bottling, we still hadn’t decided on a name so Cuvée X became the name. It was that simple,” he concluded.
Bob Mueller - Winemaker
An early graduate of the storied UC Davis winemaking program, Bob Mueller has extensive experience in all facets of winemaking. Bob Mueller’s career has involved very large wineries (Perelli-Minetti Winery in the Central Valley was a 70,000-plus ton crushing facility) to the well-respected Château Souverain in the Alexander Valley that crushed around 7,000 tons.
His extensive knowledge of chemistry and biology taught him the cold climate and the terroir of the Russian River Valley was perfect for growing both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. How true it is.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
It all started 20 years ago. We had been in business a few years, sold out of wine each year and enjoyed having a lovely tasting room in Healdsburg, CA. That’s all good. On the other hand, we were only producing one wine, our “LB” Chardonnay (Late Bottled). Even though it was highly praised by the wine press and quite popular in the tasting room, it was only one wine. As a result, visits to the tasting room tended to be, well, brief. After an intense, high-level executive meeting with all top executives at Mueller Winery (that would be me and Lori, my wife and partner) that lasted well over 10 minutes, we arrived at the obvious decision; produce another variety of wine. Since our favorite red was Pinot Noir, it was the choice and the die was cast.
Now the horses. Actually one horse, “Sesostris” aka “Sol.” Our daughter, Emily, had a horse and he was large (17 hand Oldenburg Gelding!), yet nimble, agile and youthful. His focus was on dressage. Under Emily’s tutelage and as a team, they looked lithe and light as air, deftly competing in the intricate movements known as dressage. “Tempi” is the term used in the sport of dressage and refers to the quick timing changes and speed of the movement the team makes.
Our Pinot Noir “Tempi” is a high toned, very fruit forward style of Pinot Noir. A bit crisper and perhaps more “Burgundian” than our other offerings, it has the luscious raspberry and red cherry aromatics and flavors of Russian River Pinot Noir. I call the aromatics “intense and high frequency” – it is evident when poured and many inches above the glass rim. Bright red fruit, touch of vanilla and long finish complete the picture. On its own, paired with pasta pescatore, grilled salmon or pork tenderloin, it is a perfect match.