On the Pinot Trail: Papapietro Perry
Ben Papapietro and Bruce Perry met 40 years ago while working together at the San Francisco Newspaper
agency. Besides being both native San Franciscans, they shared a love for food and wine, and had a
particular interest in Pinot Noir. They began making wine in Ben’s garage and their friends loved their early
efforts. After meeting coworker Burt Williams of Williams Selyem fame, they were inspired to move from
garagistas to professional winemakers. Below is a picture of Ben (right) and Bruce in their early winemaking
Burt Williams invited the pair to visit him at Williams Selyem Winery where they learned about making Pinot
Noir from the “master.” Before long, they began crafting their own Pinot Noir, and over time added Zinfandel
and Chardonnay to their lineup. Ben even picked up the habit from Burt of wearing Hawaiian shirts
When Ben and Bruce retired from their day jobs, they started a winery in Healdsburg in 1998. Soon Renae
Perry was handling the operations and Yolanda Papapietro dealt with distributor relations. Production eventually reached 6,000 to 8,000 cases annually.
A tasting room is open daily at 4791 Dry Creek Road, just north of the town of Healdsburg. Visit the website at
I stopped by the tasting room in March 2015, and tasted through the 2012 lineup of Papapietro Perry Pinot
Noirs. The 2012 vintage wines have only been released since early 2015 and all are available except the
Mukaida Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir which is made available only to wine club members and is sold out (I
did not taste this wine). If you liked the Williams Selyem Pinot Noirs crafted by Burt Williams, then you will like
the Papapietro Perry Pinot Noirs which are nearly the same in style.
2014 Papapietro Perry Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
200 cases, $32. Juice from incline sorting
tray. Sourced from several Russian River Valley vineyards. Barrel fermented.
Light salmon red color in the glass. A crisp
wine with plentiful aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries and cherries, finishing with a brisk, refreshing cut of
2012 Papapietro Perry Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 1,370 cases, $51. Aged in 100%
French oak barrels, ! new and " once and twice used barrels.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass.
The nose leads with oak-kissed cherry aromas. Soft and smooth, even slightly creamy on the palate with
forward flavors of cherry and raspberry accented with notes of vanilla and baking spice. Very supple tannins
and balanced acidity make for armchair drinking.
2012 Papapietro Perry Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 700 cases, $51.
Light cherry color in the
glass. Expressive nose offering scents of cherry pie glaze, spice and forest floor. A little more concentration
and tannic backbone than the Russian River Valley bottling, with a burst of blue and red berry flavors on entry,
persisting through a satisfying finish.
2012 Papapietro Perry Nunes Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 773 cases, $56. This
vineyard is located at a relatively warm site just off the 101 Freeway east of the Santa Rosa airport.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Effusive aromas of fresh cherry, raspberry and spice. The cherry
flavor really pops on the palate with endearing spice notes. Tastes of blueberry and raspberry add interest.
Very suave in the mouth, with fine grain tannins, and a huge, fruit-driven finish.
2012 Papapietro Perry Peters Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 1,070 cases, $56. This vineyard is located south of
Moderate light cherry red color in the glass. A very savory
nose featuring aromas of forest floor, conifer and herbs with a hint of
strawberries and spice. More fruity on the palate, with mid weight,
attacking flavors of cherry and red berries with a subtle savory thread in
the background. The wine has great purity of cherry flavor that really
clings to the palate. Easy to like, with suave tannins and good finishing
2012 Papapietro Perry Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 1,245 cases, $56. Vineyard is located on River
Road behind Martinelli’s tasting room.
Moderately light cherry red color
in the glass. This wine shows an inviting interplay between cherry and berry fruits and oak. Discreetly
concentrated, with a good attack, chewy tannins, and a welcome touch of oak spice on the finish.
2012 Papapietro Perry Campbell Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 825 cases, $56.
cherry red color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of cherry tart and sandalwood. Acid-driven, and a bit
austere, with flavors of tart cherry and citrus. Refreshingly crisp, but modest in attack and finish.
2012 Papapietro Perry 777 Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 625 cases, $72. Ben calls
this his “Vegas wine,” because of the triple 7 designation. Sourced from five Russian River Valley vineyards.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. A very harmonious wine with aromas and flavors of cherry,
cranberry, raspberry and sandalwood. Well-crafted, with juicy acidity, balanced supple tannins, and generous
length on the lingering finish.
2012 Papapietro Perry Pommard Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 625 cases, $72.
100% Pommard clone from several Russian River Valley vineyards.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Perfectly seasoned with spice and oak, this charming wine is a delight. Mid weight flavors of Bing
cherry and cola fill the mouth with goodness, holding court through an expansive finish. Impressive composure
draws you back for another sip.