When growers started planting Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley, everyone said it was crazy and now winegrowers are pushing the limits on the far West of the Sonoma Coast and achieving spectactual results at elavations and locations that were thought maniacal. Through new eyes, a desirable low fertility soil managed impeccably with sustainable, organic, and biodynamic style farming practices are producing world-class grapes which makes finding incredible Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from this region a wonderful adventure.
A few years back IPOB was created by Rajat Parr of Michael Mina and RN74,a and Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards, to celebrate wineries striving to produce balanced pinot noir and chardonnay in California. Amazingly of the thirty-three member wineries in IPOB 2015, ten of them (almost 1/3) are member wineries in the West Sonoma Coast Vintners. I think this says something about the quality and types of wines, especially pinot noir and chardonnay that are coming out of this region.
Nine of those wineries will be participating in the Grand Tasting for the West of the West Festival and The Barlow Center on August 2-3. Hirsch Vineyards is not participating due to family commitments, but the rest of these small production, hard to get wineries will be on hand and offering their wares. I would highly recommend trying some of these wineries, which include:
Ceritas led by the husband and wife duo of John Raytek and Phoebe Bass who talk about simplicity which they describes as “allowing our vineyards to be the teachers, with us as the students. It means the ongoing process of listening to and learning from each site, every vintage, to discover and share what that site is capable of expressing. It means honoring our commitment with our grower partners to farm every vineyard sustainably and organically.” Their fall release includes 2012 Porter-Bass Vineyard Chardonnay and 2012 Pinot Noir from Hellenthal Vineyard and Escarpa Vineyard.
Cobb Wines led by two generations of the Cobb family, father and winegrower, David Cobb (one of the pion
eers of pinot noir viticulture on the far Sonoma Coast) and son and winemaker, Ross Cobb (a noted pinot noir expert, making wines at Cobb Wines & Hirsch Vineyards and consulting winemaker for Banshee Wines and Claypool Cellars with Katy Wilson of LaRue Wines). Ross has said that beyond what occurs in the vineyard, 90% of winemaking is the picking decision. Ross favors lower alcohol wines that reflect a sublte expression of ripeness. Spring release included 2011 Pinot Noirs from Coastlands Vineyards, Emmaline Ann, and Rice-Spivak, so Fall release should include Joy Road and Jack Hill Pinot Noir.
Failla led by husband andwife team of winemaker Ehren Jordan and CFO Anne-Marie Failla, makes a diverse portfolio of wines, but I expect they will be featuring Sonoma Coast wines like 2012 Whistler Vineyard Pinot Noir and my favorite 2012 Pearlessence Pinot Noir at the WOW Grand Tasting. Although Ehren came to winemaking in anything but a conventional manner he has created an empressive resume between Turley Wine Cellars and Failla.
Flowers Vineyard and Winery originally led by former nursery owners Walt and Joan Flowers turned their passion for agriculture, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir into a world class winery. In 2009, Huneeus Vintners (Huneeus family, owners of Quintessa Vineyards) bought a substantial interest in Flowers and Joan and Walt Flowers retired. Flowers produces Chardonnay and Pinot from its estate vineyards. The Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a fine representation of the true Sonoma Coast along with a number of other estate cuvee and vineyard-designate bottlings including Andreen-Gale, Moon Select, Camp Meeting Ridge, Frances Thompson, and Sea View Ridge vineyards.
LaRue Wines led by Katy Wilson is a perfect example of a renaissance woman. In following her passion for agriculture and creativity into winemaking, she may have adopted a hands-off style of winemaking, but is no ways hands-off in the day-to-day operation of the winery where she spends long hours doing most jobs herself. These wines are a must try! She is pouring her 2012 Emmaline Ann Vineyard Pinot Noir and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Her 2012 Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir is in bottles, but won’t be released until Spring 2015.
LIOCO led by partners Matt Licklider (former wine importer) and Kevin O’Connor (sommelier turned winemaker). LIOCO currently produces wine from Sonoma, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz counties with a focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Carignan. I would expect offerings in their non-invasive style such as 2012 Hanzell Vineyard Chardonnay or 2012 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir. Fun-loving yet with a true passion for winemaking.
Littorai Wines has been a long time favorite of many pinotphiles because Ted Lemon is consistently looking for BD (not certified but nature friendly) ways to grow great grapes. Ted has been a leader in the community of growers in moving to this method of viticulture and his wines reflect his love of the land. Ted and Heidi Lemon have run this small, but world-class winery since 1993. I would expect Pinot Noirs from Hirsch Vineyards as well as estate vineyards, The Haven and Pivot. Look for the Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay at the Seminar on Saturday as well as the Grand Tasting.
Peay Vineyards is a partnership between Vanessa Wong, and Andy and Nick Peay making wine since 1998 near Annapolis. Wines are created from meticulously managed non-certified organic style vineyards. I would expect their 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and well as 2012 Pomarium Estate Pinot Noir.
Red Car Wines led by winemaker Carroll Kemp and General Manager Peter Willmert. Red Car is one of the few wineries in this group with a formal tasting room, although still a limited production facility focusing on the True Sonoma Coast. Now I use the word formal to mean open to the public regularly, because this is truly a fun, dynamic group of individuals that make wine tasting fun and educational. They will be pouring an impressive array of wines including 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 2012 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2012 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2012 Falstaff Vineyard Pinot Noir, and 2010 Red Car Estate Syrah (see photo).
The Prince of Pinot recently said, “Today, Pinot Noir lovers are experiencing an embarrassment of riches. It took thousands of years for Pinot Noir to emerge as the primary red grape of Burgundy, and many more centuries for Burgundy’s complex wine culture and accomplishments to develop. In California and Oregon, the process has been mirrored in barely half a century, spurred by a dedicated group of winegrowers and vintners who took their cues from the Burgundians, but put their own stamp on Pinot Noir.” I couldn’t agree more. Enjoy these any many other fabulous wines at West Sonoma Coast Vintners West of the West Grand Tasting on Aug 2-3 at The Barlow Center in Sebastopol.
#WOWSebastopol #Ceritas #CobbWines #Failla #FlowersVineyard #LaRueWines # LIOCO #Littorai #PeayVineyards #RedCar