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Aug 7, 2002 04:35 AM

Forestville in Russian River Valley

  • m

Saturday afternoon found me in Forestville in the center of the Russian River Valley for the open house at Scherrer winery (not open for public tasting). All nine wines previewed for tasting were lovely. The ones to seek out are the 2000 “Helfer” Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2000 “Hirsch” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, and when they’re released next spring, 2001 “Shale Terrace” Alexander Valley Zin and 2001 “Old & Mature Vines” Alexander Valley Zin (both tasted from barrel).

With the start of the local Gravenstein apple season, I had a craving for the first fresh Gravenstein apple pie of the year. I checked with friends I ran into at the winery on local favorites, and both steered me away from Mom’s Apple Pies to Village Bakery in Sebastopol. Then we realized that Kozlowski Farms was practically next door, so I headed over there instead. It’s located approximately where the “116” is on the map below on the west side of the highway.

Instead of a whole pie, I opted for an apple tart ($3) that was a hefty hand-pie in the shape of a half-moon with a thick fluted edge. The apple filling had the lovely complexity and intensity of flavor that Gravensteins are famous for. This had a bit more gluey starch holding it together than I would like, but maybe the physics of hand-pies demands this. The crust had a substantial feel and firmness to the bite.

I continued north on my way to Covey Rd. (the short cut to River Road, approximately the “e” in Forestville on the map), and decided to stop at this corner at Carr’s Drive-In for dinner. It had been at least 5 years since I’ve had a burger at this Forestville oldtimer. It's still the same river mud brown with the frayed interior and a couple tables outside. Too bad I’d over snacked on the Taleggio, Old Amsterdam Gouda, garlicky roast leg of lamb, and baguettes offered as palate cleansers at Scherrer because I would have ordered a real milkshake and a 1/4 pounder from here if I’d been emptier. So I went for the regular cheese burger ($2.35) and fries ($1.10). All the fixings on the burger were fine – toasted non-airball sesame seed bun, fresh shredded iceburg, sliced pickles, grilled onions, American cheese, thick-cut tomatoes – but the patty itself was feeble. Maybe a 1/4 pounder would show better. But the fries were as good as the memory - thinly cut, golden brown, very crisp and tasty – and could put plenty of fancy places to shame.

Life is good.

Kozlowski Farms [Sonoma County]
5566 Gravenstein Hwy.
1.800.473.2767 or 707.887.1587

Carr’s Drive-In [Sonoma County
]6533 Covey Road

P.S. If you’re attending the Gravenstein Apple Fair next weekend, plan an alternate route in case traffic on Hwy. 12 and 116 backs up, e.g., approaching from the east on Occidental Road.

P.P.S. Started out the morning at the Healdsburg farmers market – delighted to run into local hounds Mark B and Louise. The heirloom roses were especially beautiful in country bouquets. We’re in fig hiatus right now, waiting for the second crop to ripen in the fall. Bought some luscious tomatoes – Cherokees and Mortgage Lifters; also some sweet and juicy Fantasia nectarines from Dry Creek Peach’s stand garlic cheese curd from Springhill, cling peaches, English cucumbers, heirloom zucchini, and a sharlyn melon.



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  1. m
    Melanie Wong

    A question by email: "Forgive my forwardness for emailing you, but I read your post on the Scherrer open house and have a question for you on the Scherrer pinots. I have one bottle each of the '99 Hirsch and '99 Sonoma coast that I purchased last year at an open house - have you tried any of these or have any idea of how they are drinking?"

    I don't think I've had the 99 Hirsch and maybe not the Sonoma Coast either. Last year I remember trying a couple Pinots called something like Little Sister or Big Brother? These were one time trial offerings, nice fruit, but not made to age that long.

    Fred described the 99 Hirsch as diaphanous. By inference, I assume this is not structured for the ages.

    Pinot Noir is among the most fragile and fickle of red wines. If you do not have temperature-controlled storage below 65 degrees, you should not attempt to age anybody's Pinots and should consume them before they're 4 years old. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, Pinot Noir's aging profile is not at all linear in an A to B to C fashion and is much harder to predict. Pinot will start at A, jump to X, then back F! Two bottles of the same wine from the same case opened on the same day can be radically different from each other.

    In general, Pinot should be consumed before 4 years of age for its fresh fruit, or after 7 years of age for more development. They tend to shut down between 4 to 7 years and its pointless to try them. Only the best ones will re-emerge from this sleep, so again, the drink before 4 years old is the general rule. If you happen to catch one while it's in its "dumb" period (no aroma, no flavor, but no signs of degradation), do not dump it. Just leave a little out in a glass, put the cork back in the bottle, and return a few hours later or the next day. You may have a pleasant surprise and find that the wine has awakened!

    If you have found this information helpful, please chip in a contribution to Chowhound at the link below to keep this site going.

    A further note on Kozlowski Farms - besides the apple tart, I can also recommend the apple strudel. A large variety of fresh fruit pies and other pastries are also available, as well as a limited number of sandwiches and snacks. In season, fresh fruits (golden raspberries!) from the farm are offered. The apple juice and raspberry apple cider are delicious. Try the fresh blackberry smoothie for the essence of summer. A picnic area is available for enjoying your treats al fresco.


    1. supermel gets the Nobel Prize for food sleuthing.
      Early morning do-nuts in dangerous Vallejo was just a
      NOBODY (except the crowd from nearby ELMO) goes to
      Carr's Drive-In-except you.Is the sign still with
      a big hole?

      1 Reply
      1. re: duke dee
        Melanie Wong

        Uh, thanks! Yep, half the El Molino high school kids have probabably worked at Carr's. So, have you had a good burger there recently? Felt a bit disloyal to not get pie from Mom's (Betty Carr) since it's the same family. Didn't take note of a hole, but the lettering seemed very faded, maybe because of a cavity. (g)

        Early morning donuts in Vallejo is hardly dangerous. Rougher are the parolees congregating at the fish market and 'cue joints. I'm taking advantage of daylight savings time to take a look around the hamlet. Had already tried nearly everywhere worth eating (and many not) in downtown Napa. (g)