California Old Vine Pinot Noir Vineyards: Monterey County
“The grapes of old vines are deeper and higher quality.
More intense and persistent both in smell and mouth.”
Massimilino Calabretta, Calabretta Winery
Antle Vineyard - Rodnick Farm
Location: Gavilan Mountain Range, Chalone AVA
Owner: Kurt Gollnick, Janet Rodgers
Initial planting: mid 1980s
Scion: Chalone Vineyard selections and Swan selection
Producers from this vineyard: Windy Oaks Estate (old vines), various others (old and new vines)
This vineyard was originally planted by owner Richard (Dick) Graff, the founder of Chalone Vineyard.
The scion was old selections from Chalone Vineyard planted in 1946 as well as a Swan selection.
The Pinot Noir block was part of Block 5 that was originally Mourvedre but was partly grafted over to
Pinot Noir before it began producing.
Jim Schultze of Windy Oaks Estate told me he sources from those old vines planted by Graff in the
mid-1980s. Jim told me, “If you look at this section of the vineyard, the vines look ancient and are
among the oldest Pinot Noir currently in Chalone AVA.” Jim told me that Graff’s original plantings were
not part of the extensive replanting done in the late 1990s to most of the vineyards at Chalone.
In 2005, third-generation Salinas row crop farmer Bob Antle, a long time fan of Chalone Vineyard,
purchased the 40-acre property. The vineyard had not been in production for an extended time. He
planted 2.3 acres of Pommard and 1.4 acres of Dijon 114 Pinot Noir the following year. John Locke,
owner and winemaker at Birichino told me he sources from 2,3 acres of Pommard planted in 2006
and the older block planted by Graff around 1980 with Swan and Chalone selections.
Today, the vineyard is owned and managed by Kurt Gollnick, who has farmed throughout Monterey
and San Benito counties since 1988, and his partner Janet Rodgers. Both live on the property that is now named Rodnick Farm. The 152-acre farm at 1,600 to 1,900 feet elevation has 27 acres of vineyard, is home to 8.42 acres of Pinot Noir, along with Mourvedre (for which the vineyard is known), Syrah, Grenache, Viognier,
Albarino, Muscat and Pinot Blanc, all organically farmed.
A majority of the fruit has been sold to other wineries including Windy Oaks, Folk Machine (final
vintage in 2016), Scholium, Enfield Wine Co., Birichino (vintages 2014 and 2015), Sante Arcangeli,
Kara Estate and Sarah’s Vineyard. Antle has bottled wines from this vineyard under the Pinncalitos de
Chalone label. 2014 Birichino Antle Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir (250 cases, $40) and 2015
Birichino Antle Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir (175 cases, $40). are sold at
www.birichino.com. Windy Oaks Estate Old Vines bottling from Antle Vineyard was reviewed in
2016 and copied here. The 2016 vintage was reviewed in August 2020. Windy Oaks Estate Old Vine
Chalone Pinot Noirs are offered at www.windyoaksestate.com
2014 Windy Oaks Old Vine Chalone Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.68, 48 cases, $65. sourced from Graff’s
early plantings of Pinot Noir that were established using
1946 Chalone Vineyard cuttings. 50% whole cluster, aged
21 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled
unfined and unfiltered.
Light cherry red color in the glass.
Complex aromatic gifts including black cherry, sous-bois,
briar, spice and nutty oak, reaching new heights with time
in the glass. A connoisseur’s wine that is not propelled by
rich fruit, but rather by nuance and complexity. The midweight
flavors of cherry, red berry and spice are
surprisingly intense considering the lighter color of the
wine. Elegantly crafted and perfectly balanced, with finegrain
tannins, juicy acidity and an astonishingly long, orgasmic finish. This wine brought back
memories of my encounter with a 1990 DRC Romanée-Conti wine many years ago. Not a
powerhouse, but delicate like an angel that is heaven sent.
2016 Windy Oaks Old Vine Chalone Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $65.
Moderately light garnet color in
the glass. Very sexy nose brimming with wondrous aromas of spiced cherry, earthy flora and flowery
underbrush. The beautifully ripened cherry core is annotated with notes of spice, cola, mushroom and
savory herbs. Impressive harmony, with refined tannins, an expansive mid palate and like the
energizer bunny, the finish kept going and going.
Location: Gavilan Mountain Range, Chalone AVA
Owner: Bill Brosseau
Initial planting: 1980
Scion: Mt. Eden
Producers from this vineyard: Brosseau Wines (old vines), various others (newer vines)
This vineyard, located at 1,600 feet elevation and lying in the shadow of the nearby Pinnacles
National Monument, is owned by Testarossa Director of Winemaking and UC Davis graduate Bill
Brosseau. He farms the vineyard along with his spouse Kilene who is also a graduate of the UC Davis
Viticulture and Enology program.
Bill’s parents, John and Jan Brousseau, planted this vineyard originally to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,
trucking in water to get it established (rainfall is very low in the Chalone AVA). The site was purchased
in 1978 and cleared for planting by 1980. By the 1990s, Chalone Vineyard supplied water and
electricity. The site is known for the limestone strata in the soils.
The vineyard has been slowly expanded to 42 acres to include not only additional Pinot Noir clones
(Pommard and Dijon clones 113, 114 and 115) and Chardonnay clones but also Syrah and
Grenache. The fruit has been sold to other wineries since 1995 including Bougetz Cellars, Cellars 33,
Enfield Wine Co., Flywheel, Fulcrum Wines, Harrington, Loring Wine Co., Seabold Cellars, Tantara
and Testarossa. I believe all of these wineries have bottled a wine crafted from a mix of old and new
plantings except for Brosseau Wines. A Brosseau Wines Old Vines Brousseau Vineyard Pinot
Noir is available at www.brousseauwines.com
I reviewed 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages of Fulcrum Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is one of
the best bottlings crafted by David Rossi in his lineup at Fulcrum Wines. The recent release of Old
Vines Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir was recently reviewed.
2017 Brosseau Wines Old Vines Brosseau Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 45 cases, $53.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. A catnip nose
filled with aromas of blackest cherry, black grapes and
ground savoury spice. A striking wine of obvious
exceptional pedigree offering the essence of
mouthwatering, earth-kissed black cherry in a mid-weight
style. Nicely composed with a good backbone of refined,
supportive tannins and a good underlying cut of acidity
especially noteworthy on the long and exuberant finish.
When tasted the following day from a previously opened
bottle, the wine was even more spectacular, filling the
glass with cherry fruit, spice and a floral component.
Nothing sexier than the scent of Pinot floral perfume.
McIntyre Estate Vineyard
Location: Santa Lucia Highlands
Owner: Steve McIntyre
Initial planting: 1973
Scion: Pommard clone, Swan selection
Producers from this vineyard: McIntyre Estate and Sostener (old vines), various (new vines)
Steve McIntyre acquired this property in 1987 from the McFarland family who planted the vineyard in
1973 and he has since upgraded the vineyard. One of the most knowledgeable viticulturists in
California, he farms 12,000 acres in Monterey County as the owner of Monterey Pacific and has planted
or farmed nearly 25% of the vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.
The 80-acre, certified sustainable, old vine Estate Vineyard is planted to both Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay. Pommard clone and Swan selection are planted on their own rootstock. This is the
oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. 10 acres of Dijon 115 and 777 and 13
acres of Chardonnay Dijon 96 and 76 have been added.
McIntyre Estate Vineyard
A 2014 McIntyre Old Vine McIntyre Estate Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($65) is
available for sale on the winery’s website at www.mcintyrevineyards.com.
2018 Sostener Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
alc., $11.98-$18.95. The name Sostener means “sustain”
in Spanish symbolizing a dedication to sustainable
viticulture and winemaking. Produced from the “very old
vines” at the McIntyre Estate Vineyard. A collaboration
between two Monterey growers and vintners, Steve
McIntyre and Michael Thomas. The winemaker is Eric
Laumann, a UC Davis graduate with over 30 years of
winemaking experience in California.
garnet color in the glass. The nose slowly opens to reveal
pleasing aromas of black cherry and allspice. Very
polished, elegant and easygoing on the palate, featuring
black cherry and strawberry fruit flavors accompanied with
a riff of spice. Good acid verve and sparse tannins make for juicy early enjoyment. A bit shallow on
the mid palate and short finish. An excellent everyday Pinot Noir as well as a solid value in old vine
Location: Santa Lucia Highlands.
Owner: Smith family
Initial planting: 1973
Acres: Pulled out (some original vines exist)
Scion: Martini 13
Producer from this vineyard: Seabold (old vines)
Rich and Claudia Smith planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling in their home estate in 1973.
Rich Smith was one of the visionary leaders in Monterey County viticulture and assisted in
establishing the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in 1991.
Smith Family Wines CEO Jason Smith took over for his father Rich Smith. In 2019, the labels Paraiso,
Irie and Alexander-Smith were removed from the winemaking business so the owners could
concentrate on grape growing. They currently farm grapes across more than 3,500 acres in Monterey
County and are now the largest grower of Pinot Noir in the Santa Lucia Highlands at 584 acres.
Years were spent replanting older vines on the estate property that surrounds the Paraiso winery,
finishing in 2013. But apparently some old vines remain in production. 2016 Seabold Paraiso
Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($40) is said by the producer to be made from “the
oldest Pinot Noir planting in the Santa Lucia Highlands, dating to the 1970s, located on a rocky
outpost on the southwestern portion of the property with soils containing shale and schist.” Visit