AWG Correspondent

Becky Parr

B.R. Cohn Winery Photos

B.R. Cohn Winery Review

Regions: Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley AVA, California

Reviewed: June 3, 2013 by Becky Parr
Published: June 17, 2013

Bruce Cohn has apparently lived a charmed life.

In 1969, he began to manage a little local band called the Doobie Brothers, and we all know how that turned out.

In 1974, he purchased land in Sonoma County, California that housed a 145-year-old grove of Picholine olive trees. Now he makes ultra-premium olive oil.

That same land just happened to be situated atop a hot-springs-producing aquifer, which increases the temperature of the soil; along with the insulation provided by a nearby mountain, that aquifer provides the ideal growing environment for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. So the B.R. Cohn Winery wins awards for its Cabernet.

Could Bruce Cohn live a more charmed life?

As one of my traveling companions quipped, I want to be HIM when I grow up.

The Place:   The grounds of B.R. Cohn Winery can only be described as idyllic. The white-painted buildings look like something out of an oil canvas painting, and the immaculately manicured lawns and gardens are the ideal backdrop for any wedding photo. Then there’s the yard art, a nod to Bruce’s love of classic cars and the winery dog Bruno – not to mention a great photo op for goofy tourists.

Inside, the L-shaped tasting bar offers lots of room for intrigued customers to enjoy tasting the wines. Next door is a gourmet gift shop, offering olive oils made from the Picholine olives grown on-site, an absolutely delectable Cabernet chocolate sauce (ice cream, anyone?), and many, many other gift and gourmet food options. Buy what you like and enjoy it outside in B.R. Cohn’s extensive picnic area. Don’t let your napkin blow away while you’re gazing at the magnificent view.

The People:  For the majority of our tasting, Marshall worked with us, with another tasting room employee jumping in to keep the pours going while Marshall was briefly called away. Marshall knew a LOT about the history and intricacies of B.R. Cohn’s wines, to the point where we asked him if he was a member of the Cohn family. He wasn’t. But he said he’d grown up in the area around the Cohn family, so it seemed he might be a member by proximity. He’s a good salesperson, too; he convinced my friends and me that it was a good idea to split a wine club membership since we live close together and could easily get together and share our wine club selections. It’s free to join, so why not?

The Wines:  During the vineyard’s fledgling years, Bruce Cohn primarily sold his grapes to other winemakers. In 1984 he took the leap and founded his own winery. He enjoyed virtually immediate success: the flagship 1985 and 1986 Cabernets earned 94 out of 100 points from Wine Spectator. and that was only the beginning.

There were three of us tasting, and we went through most everything among the reds available for tasting. The 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was very light and pleasing. We tried the Zinfandel and Primitivo side by side, which seemed fitting; both were good, but the Primitivo was deeper, more complex, and the favorite all around. The Cabernet Franc was good but on the dry side; the tannins might smooth out if it ages for a couple more years.

The Malbec was the biggest surprise of the day. Marshall reminded us as he poured it that it wasn’t the Argentine Malbec we’re used to. And oh, my, he was correct. This is only Cohn’s third year of making Malbec, but we sure hope there are 30 more years!

The three Estate wines lived up to their name and reputation. Our favorite by far was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection; it was smooth and silky, and I put asterisks by it on the tasting sheet. It’s $100 a bottle and worth every penny. My friends bought a bottle to put away for an unspecified special occasion several years in the future.

We actually closed with the whites, which I know is odd, but they were a bit of a bonus after we went through the entire list of reds. I didn’t care for the Sauvignon Blanc – a bit too acidic – but the 2010 Chardonnay Sangiacomo was buttery and creamy. Even the non-Chardonnay lovers liked it. I got some to take home.

The Experience:  Overall, it was fantastic. If I ever get to bring my mom wine tasting in Sonoma, this is one of the places I’ll be sure to bring her. We didn’t taste Bruno’s Blend, named after the tasting room dog who earned a spot in this year’s book of tasting room dogs in spite of the fact that he spends most of his time hanging out with the shipping guys. B.R. Cohn also has a line of classic car-themed wines made from blends of grapes from the Olive Hill Estate and other vineyards.

All in all, a perfect day; and I envy Bruce Cohn for being able to live that perfect day every day.

Insider’s Tip:  Well, it’s publicized, so I guess it’s not much of an insider thing – but every year for the past 25, Bruce Cohn has drawn on his music industry connections to put on a benefit concert to give back to the community. In September of each year, B.R. Cohn Winery hosts a music festival on its grounds, featuring music personalities such as the Doobie Brothers, Heart, Willie Nelson, Bad Company, and more.

Address & Contact Information: 15000 Sonoma Highway Glen Ellen, California 95442. Telephone: 800-330-4064, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:00.

Overall Rating:  

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