In early June of this year, the first-ever wine tasting room in Forestville opened its doors. Atascadero Creek Winery is owned by winemaker Bob Appleby, a multi-talented man from Los Angeles who dug his roots deep into Sonoma County soil in the mid ‘70’s. Bob moved to Sebastopol to attend SSU and immediately fell in love with the beauty of the region, and later developed a love for the local wine. After completing a degree in Biology, working in the carpentry business, then becoming a distinguished cabinet maker, he eventually fell into winemaking purely by chance.
A friend of his asked to utilize his large workshop in Graton to make and keep what started as just one barrel of Pinot Noir. After several years of making only 2 or 3 barrels for personal use, Bob decided to turn it into a commercial business and got licensed to sell in 2000. As his winemaking business grew, he began purchasing more varieties of grapes and eventually planted a small ¾ acre plot of Pinot Noir grapes on his own property. This small strip of land was once the railroad, so it took several years for the vines to root through the two feet of gravel that remained. But once they hit the groundwater, they took off running and Bob has successfully dry farmed the plants ever since.
Bob’s Estate Pinot Noir produces about 100 cases per year of a French style wine, not overly sweet like many varieties are these days when growers let the grapes over-ripen on the vine. His philosophy with winemaking is to manipulate the grape as little as possible. He uses a simple process of filtration and settling that allows the wine to develop into its own unique flavor, not altering the alcohol content or adding too much sulfur. The results are wines with deep, rich flavors that are almost savory.
His most popular wine is the Sauvignon Blanc, which he produces over 1,000 cases of each year and sells to many restaurants throughout the county such as Underwood, Backyard, Hopmonk, Boone, Big Bottom Market, and more. With over 30 buyers locally, he has built himself an esteemed reputation in the restaurant industry.
The tasting room is his newest venture, and his Atascadero Creek wines are the centerpiece of the business. But when he chose the small storefront in downtown Forestville next to Tiny Town Coffee, he couldn’t help but be inspired by the long empty walls in the building. He was immediately inspired to turn the tasting room into an art gallery and host a new artist every month. He has had success with this concept so far, inviting well-known local artists to display and hold receptions.
Our small town is blessed to have ambitious entrepreneurs like him, who wish to see success with all the local businesses, not just his own. We are a mutually-supportive community, and Bob wholeheartedly embraces that concept.
I encourage you to stop in and say hello to Bob and try a sampling of his wines, I guarantee you will walk out with a bottle or two. And keep coming back, because the art on the walls is always changing and he has big plans coming in the near future.
The quaint town of Forestville has seen a lot of growth in the last year, and its fair share of controversy. As with any form of growth, it has been met with some resistance from the locals. But in the eyes of many, change is an opportunity for improvement.
With the opening of the newest business in town, a tasting room called Wine Guerrilla, the benefits of small town growth appear tangible. If there is a certain type of growth we seek, this would be the ideal example. Owner/operator Bruce Patch shares the values and ambitions of the town because he is, in fact, a Forestvillian.
Bruce settled down in the hills of Forestville 16 years ago after escaping the music production business in Los Angeles to pursue a career as a wine broker. After many years of selling for around a dozen small wineries throughout Sonoma County, he began purchasing barrels and marking the wine under his own label, Wine Guerrilla.
He specializes in Zinfandels sourced from small growers in the Russian River, Alexander, and Dry Creek valleys. The difference in taste from each Appellation is as distinct as the scenery. He often combines wines from different vineyards or regions to create stunning blends with exceptionally smooth flavor.
Although Wine Guerilla has been in business for 9 years, his new storefront in Downtown Forestville is Bruce’s first tasting room. Prior to that he had a small office space near the Post Office and sold wholesale to many local establishments such as Andy’s Produce, Speer’s Market, and Underwood Bistro.
In the tasting room, you will notice the colorful, distinctive art that adorns the walls and boasts the Wine Guerrilla logo. These are his wine labels, custom designed by Bruce’s stepson, a working artist living in Los Angeles. The labels are subtle and feminine, much like the wines themselves. There are also a couple pieces painted by his partner Andrea that depict the serenity of the vineyard and beauty of our region.
What was previously Quicksilver Mine Co., the long-standing and very popular art gallery owned by Katia Vincent, the building seems a perfect fit for a tasting room. With its artistic architecture, strategic lighting, clean lines, and serene courtyard, it’s undoubtedly a place one could enjoy a whole afternoon in. Bruce is well on his way to enhancing the welcoming atmosphere and his ability to accommodate large parties. He also has plans to host events in the courtyard at the back of the building.
Bruce has enjoyed the warm welcome he has received from fellow Forestvillians, who have been stopping in to feed their curiosity and their thirst. It is refreshing to see the town embracing this new business with grace and appreciation. The mere fact that local entrepreneurs have enough faith and see enough potential in Forestville to want to bring their business there is a very encouraging sign.
I am personally very pleased with the opening of Wine Guerrilla and was very impressed with the variety and flavor of his Zinfandels. I highly recommend you spend an afternoon in Forestville, exploring, eating, drinking, and enjoying the relaxed lifestyle of this friendly community.