The Wine Country Online

Greetings from the back roads of California wine country! It is the old Wine Tout's job to introduce you to the folks who are handcrafting delicious, exuberant wines in the many small or recently established wineries around Northern California. These are wines that are not widely available beyond the neighborhood where they are produced. My goal is to encourage the consumer to contact the winemakers directly.

Special Inside Information:

The Old Wine Tout is very pleased to be able to introduce you this spring to a newly bonded winery. Your Wine Tout is also pleased to be in possession of a number of bottles of the new winery's product that has yet to be released for sale!

I am delighted to be on the inside track, and hope this introduction may inspire you to contact the winery's two affable partner/winemakers yourself. There may still be a chance to get on the list for their premier vintage.


Jack Burton

Introducing AmicitiA Winery

AmicitiA started as a home winemaking venture among a group of friends. The name means "friendship" in Latin. The ability of wine to bring people together and foster friendships was and continues to be the core reason that AmicitiA wines are made. All the original winemaking friends were cellar workers or tasting room personnel from the Geyserville-Healdsburg area. AmicitiA workers began getting together in the afternoons or on weekends to perform the rituals of crushing, pressing, racking, and bottling. There was always plenty of beer and good food to bless the future wine. Some of the group began making wine in 1992, but the height of interest was the 1997-1999 vintages. Grapes were traded for finished wine product (futures) or for vineyard work.

Winemaker/partners Tim Nordvedt and Chris Russi - Harvest 1997
AmicitiA wines were good from the beginning. Family and friends were given bottles and came back to ask for full cases. It was clear there was an increasing demand for the hand-made product. After the 1999 vintage two of the friends, Chris Russi and Tim Nordvedt, decided they wanted to look for a place to make more wine to be able to present the wine to a broader audience.

Currently AmicitiA wines are vinified at Christopher Creek Winery in Healdsburg, where Chris Russi is the winemaker. The 2000 vintage was very successful for the growing AmicitiA label. This was the first year that fruit was crushed at a bonded facility. Chris and Tim had access to the best processing equipment for small lots of grapes. Because vinification is being done under a bond, AmicitiA wines from the 2000 vintage will be available for sale. Most of these wines will be released in the Spring of 2002.

AmicitiA has had its greatest successes with Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Kuimelis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon should be no exception to this rule. The fruit is from high hillside vineyards above the Russian River to the east of the town of Cloverdale. This is the northern Alexander Valley and the wine is already showing classic black olive, cassis, and ripe dark fruit character. AmicitiA will only be releasing 25 cases of this delectable Cabernet.

Chris with the good stuff - Harvest 1997
Merlot from the Ramazzotti Vineyard in Geyserville was crushed for the second year last October. Joe Ramazzotti farms various locations in Sonoma County and is very well known for growing exemplary Zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley. His Geyserville block of Merlot is at the furthest reaches of the daily fog bank that slides up the Russian River Valley into the Alexander Valley. The Merlot is rich and deep with herbal and spicy pepper tones. It is evident that this wine still has quite a bit to divulge.

Katherine's Vineyard in Geyserville is farmed by Chris and Tim and was the first place they learned the love of shaping vines into producers of high-quality fruit. This vineyard produces about 50 cases of Zinfandel (with 20 percent Carignane and Petite Sirah interplanted) and 50 cases of Syrah. Zinfandel has been harvested from Katherine's Vineyard by AmicitiA for three years and the vines put forth a wine of rich color and unmistakable Zin berry bright fruit.

2000 was the first year that AmicitiA decided to delve into producing Rhone varieties. Fruit was acquired from three sources in the North Coast. Katherine's Vineyard in Geyserville contributed a surprising smoked-meat character that will be a great addition to the blend. The Karen Kenny Vineyard on the south slope of Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg gave the backbone and color, while Tyler's Vineyard in Lake County will be the core black fruit richness to round out the blend. We will be releasing 100 cases of AmicitiA 2000 North Coast Syrah.

Labeling party - Harvest 1997
The dark-horse star of the 2000 vintage may well turn out to be Carignane from the Tomka Vineyard in Alexander Valley. This vineyard is also farmed by Chris and Tim and is pure Carignane planted in 1951. It is entirely head-pruned and dry-farmed. They rescued this vineyard from a couple years of neglect and are delighted by the results of the first harvest. The wine is a complete package of ripe blackberry, smoky meat, black color, and a lingering, well-balanced finish. AmicitiA will be releasing only 25 cases of this wine.

AmicitiA is dedicated to providing the highest quality handmade wines for a reasonable price. Chris Russi and Tim Nordvedt started making wines with their feet on the cellar floor and grounded to the soil that produces their wines. Their love of the winemaking trade and the people they work with is their inspiration. They hope that the public will be able to taste the honesty and dedication in their wines.

AmicitiA Winery
P.O. Box 1118
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 529-2441