Ross Halleck (photo right) founded the marketing agency, Halleck Design Group, in 1980 to assist the Silicon Valley technology industry and the Northern California wine industry (Iron Horse, Beaulieu, St. Supery). Bitten by the wine bug, he moved to Sonoma County in 1991 with his wife Jennifer and three sons. Buoyed by his wife Jennifer’s experience in the wine industry, and their shared passion for wine, they have together rapidly become one of Sonoma’s most high-profile producers of ultra premium Pinot Noir.
The Hallecks planted their family estate Pinot Noir vineyard in 1993 with the intention of setting aside profits from this vineyard for their three sons’ college educations. Overlooking the Russian River Valley in the Sonoma Coast, this 1-acre vineyard was planted to clones 115, 667 and 777. The first harvest was 1999. The Hallecks expanded their Pinot Noir offerings by sourcing fruit from other excellent vineyards in the Sebastopol area. They now produce three vineyard designate Pinot Noirs and a Pinot Noir blend from three vineyards called Three Sons Cuvée.
Jennifer spent some time working at Tandem Winery with winemaker Greg LaFollette who was Halleck Vineyard’s first winemaker. Greg’s protégé, Rick Davis (Londer, Cal Star, Alcina), is the current winemaker. He has continued to instruct Jennifer in the art of making fine wine and ultimately Jennifer hopes to take over some of the winemaking chores. Currently the wines are vinified at Owl Ridge Wine Services in Sebastopol.
Winemaking is similar for each of the Halleck Pinot Noirs with changes instituted as each wine dictates. A 5-day cold soak is followed by whole berry fermentation in steel open top 5 ton fermenters or t-bins if the lot is small
and punched down twice a day. A portion of whole clusters is included if ripeness of the stems allows their use. The barrel program is 30% new French oak, 30% 1- year old barrels, and 40% neutral barrels. Multiple French coopers are used, but inclination is toward Allier forest. After four months in barrel, the wines are
tasted and the final blends determined. A decision is made about what oak treatment each blend
needs in barrel for another 5-6 months and the wines are returned to appropriate barrels.
2005 Halleck Vineyard Three Sons Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 750 cases, $38.
This wine is sourced from The Farm Vineyard, Hallberg Vineyard and Hawk’s Roost Vineyard.
Clones are Dijon 115,777.
The aromatics are enticing with notes of cherry and toast and a kiss of anise. Light to medium weighted, this wine has a well-constructed Bing cherry core of fruit all wrapped in a satin-sheet-like texture. There are some cola highlights also - more Pepsi than Coke. With laser-like clarity and balance, this Pinot is flat-out terrific.
2005 Halleck Vineyard Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot
13.9% alc., 140 cases, $55. Clones 115 and 777.
Now this is what I’m talking about! An intriguing nose of crushed black cherry and mahogany wood shed
leads to succulent red cherry and red currant flavors which take on darker tones with time in the glass. The fruit is pure and perfectly ripe. The finish is crisp and luscious with a raspberry kiss that persists an eternity. So sublime, I wanted to drink the whole bottle.
2005 Halleck Vineyard The Farm Vineyard Russian River
14.8% alc., 270 cases, $55. This 2-acre vineyard
is in the neighborhood of the Halleck Vineyard and is managed
by Jim Pratt. It was planted to Dijon clone 777 in 1999. In
previous years wine from this vineyard was blended into the
Three Sons Cuvée.
Befitting the source, there is some farm yard in the nose with a little funk and a touch of alcohol. There is noticeable sweetness of deep red fruits with an appealing earthiness. The finishing note is complex with pomegranate, hay, game and wood notes. The tannins are well-concealed. Patty really
liked this wine, but I found it too much of an earth child.
2003 Halleck Vineyard Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 100 cases, $75.
The aromatics and flavors are quite disparate. Plenty of oak toast and barnyard influence in the nose. The
flavors are red-fruit driven with generous spirited cherry notes and a hint of oak and herbs on the clean
and brisk back end. The wine has an appealing lightness about it , meaning it is easy and satisfying to
drink without any hard edges.
Halleck Vineyard wines are sold primarily to mailing list members through the website,
www.halleckvineyard.com. There is some restaurant and retail distribution. The Hallecks offer a number
of special events including trips abroad to members of their Estate Wine Club. Subscribe to the
frequent e-mail newsletter. Currently they are offering a bottle of the Three Sons Cuvée housed in a
silk-lined gift box including a gift card for $48. Halleck Vineyard also produces a Sauvignon Blanc and
a Dry Gewurztraminer (the 2006 was just released in time for Thanksgiving). There was no 2005 Estate
Pinot Noir produced, but the 2006 is currently resting in barrels. Halleck Vineyard is located at 3785
Burnside Road, Sebastopol. 707-738-8383. Tasting by appointment.