Color me antique, but I'm just now learning what in tarnation this Rock Band game is all about. It's not about being a musician, explains Eric, one of two Erics who run this juke joint; the player'"s only got to press the flashing buttons at the right time. That's kind of like some boutique wine outfits, isn't it? Buy a rock-star consultant, press the right buttons, and the crowds will cheer. But that's not the game at Roadhouse. A brief look around confirms that, although this Eric has the good sense to keep his day job in banking, it's the process and not the image that got him into wine, and gets him down to the cellar all hours of the day or night to do the punch downs. Strictly analog.Located in a modest light industrial/office park at the quiet, dead end of North Street, but just blocks from Cyrus Restaurant, Roadhouse is set up like a casual clubhouse. There, at the end of a simple, wood plank bar set upon wine barrels, a drum kit and electric guitar controllers stand ready to Rock Band under a wall-mounted flat screen. Karaoke's an option for non-nimble-fingered crooners, there's a red felt table for billiard players and deep sofas abound for the rest of the crew to lounge on. Nominally open daily, it may be best to call ahead, and it's best to bring a group. It's a popular limo tour stop at the end of the day, no doubt because the group's tasted their way into that karaoke mind space. Actually, insists Eric, it's because their wines will show up all the others.
The 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($49) has a hint of toast, a bit of Grand Marnier and some weedy notes, but it's mostly soft raspberry-cherry fruit and medium-light bodied. The 2008 Dry Creek Valley Grenache must have been good, because it sold out. Meanwhile, the 2008 RRV Zinfandel ($29) can still be enjoyed for the same price: look for warm, baked goods aroma of fresh cranberry muffins, with a soft palate of red cherry fruit in this clean and very appealing Zin. The warm, easy-drinking 2008 "Bucket Blend" Red Wine ($29) finishes a lot softer than some Zin, Carignane and Alicante Bouschet mixers, but then there's oddball Monduese in there, too. New for 2010, some wines will be made in the Roadhouse using an open-top fermenter sharing space with the game room. No jump shots, please.
Roadhouse, 107-B W. North St., Healdsburg. Open Monday–Thursday, noon to 6pm; Friday–Sunday, noon to 7pm. Call to confirm. No tasting fee. 707.922.6362. This weekend, Oct. 23–24, Roadhouse presents the Pinot on the River festival, featuring a walkaround of over a hundred top West Coast Pinot producers. $75. More info at www.pinotfestival.com.