Pellegrini Wine Company & Olivet Lane Vineyard: New Incarnation of a Heritage Estate
The Pellegrini family has been growing grapes and producing wine in Sonoma County, California, for four
generations. Current patriarch, Robert, was to establish Olivet Lane Vineyard and Pellegrini wines upon the
urging of his grandfather, Vincent. In 1973, Vincent acquired a 65-acre apple, plum and olive orchard on West
Olivet Road between River Road and Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa, an area known as the Santa Rosa
Plain. Robert was fresh out of school and had just returned from a tour of Burgundy and was intrigued by the
idea of planting Pinot Noir on the newly acquired land.
Robert planted Pinot Noir and mainly Chardonnay in 1975, primarily out of economic considerations as
Chardonnay was much more in demand than Pinot Noir at the time. The Olivet Lane Vineyard, named after the
120 olive trees which line the vineyard’s east entrance was to be one of the first vineyards in the Russian River
Valley devoted exclusively to these two varieties.
The Olivet Lane Vineyard is one-third a monoblock of Martini clone Pinot Noir and two-thirds Wente clone
Chardonnay planted on AxR#1 rootstock with wide vine spacing that was in favor in the 1970s. The grapes have
a near-perfect balance of chemistry at harvest, developing desirable flavors at 24.0º to 24.5º Brix with spot-on
acidity. The wines are never brawny, blockbuster wines, and need only the most judicious use of oak to
compliment the grape’s delicate red fruit and spice flavors.
An Olivet Lane Estate Chardonnay was first released in the late 1970s and an Olivet Lane Pinot Noir in the
1980s. Merry Edwards has made an Olivet Lane Vineyard designated Pinot Noir since 1997 and several other
notable wineries have made distinguished wines from this vineyard including Williams Selyem, WesMar, Gary
Farrell, Brogan Cellars, Kosta Browne and Paul Hobbs.
For a number of years multiple varietal wines from sourced grapes were produced under the Pellegrini label,
with estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay carrying the Olivet Lane label. A Tuscan-styled winery was built on the
estate and a tasting room opened. A few years ago there was dissent among family members regarding
management of the winery. While the dispute was settled, no wine was produced at the winery following a 2009
Pinot Noir and 2010 Chardonnay, with all grapes going to Williams Selyem and Mary Edwards. By 2013,
Robert and his direct family had assumed sole proprietorship and estate wine production resumed.
A new staff, including Winemaker Lynn Krausmann and Chief of Operations Alexia Pellegrini (Robert’s
daughter), was assembled and Robert is now proud to announce the May release of the 2013 Olivet Lane
Vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Pellegrini vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs. Lynn is an experienced
winemaker, having graduated with a degree in enology from University of California at Davis, followed by
winemaking stints at Robert Mondavi Winery, Cloudy Bay Wines in New Zealand, Clos du Bois, Williams
Selyem and most recently, Esterlina Vineyards in Anderson Valley.
Robert recently invited me to preview the new 2013 releases at the winery. The wines had been bottled only
three weeks prior, yet I was very impressed. It is clear the winery is back on track, a fitting new
incarnation of a treasured Russian River Valley heritage estate.
The winery is open for tasting by appointment. Visit www.pellegrinisonoma.com.
2013 Olivet Lane Estate Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.59, $45. Barrel
fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Light golden straw color in
the glass. An appealing discreetly rich wine, with effusive aromas and flavors of citrus, apple, white peach and
tropical fruits. Bright on the palate with mild viscosity, energetic acidity, admirable integration of oak, and
inviting length on an apple-driven finish.
2013 Olivet Lane Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.54, 300 cases, $65.
100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, inoculated with Assmannhausen yeast, aged 14 months in 100% French
oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas unfold nicely over time in the
glass, revealing notes of Bing cherry, spice and sweet oak. The mid-weight cherry core is juicy and mouth
filling accented with hints of cola, mocha and spice, framed by silky tannins. A load of cherry goodness really
hangs on to the long and expansive finish.
2013 Pellegrini Hurst Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.53, 160
cases, $45. Vineyard is located in the far western reaches of Sebastopol. 100% Pommard clone.
Aged 14 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Enticing scents of black cherry, kirsch, flower shop and the slightest oak. Impressive
roundness and polish, with mid weight plus flavors of succulent dark fruits. The silky texture really
stands out in this special wine that is thoroughly enchanting.
2013 Pellegrini Toboni Oakwild Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.60, $45.
Vineyard is adjacent Olivet Lane Vineyard with same soils. Clones are Pommard and Dijon 115, 667 and 777.
Aged 14 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of
savory dark fruits and sous-bois. Intense, sappy blackberry and cassis flavors with a meaty underpinning and
refined tannins. As it was somewhat brooding upon opening, we decanted this wine and the luscious fruit really
emerged with a boisterous statement.