Anderson Valley: The Wineries, The Pinot
One of the most vivid memories I have of Anderson Valley is the unique split-rail redwood fences originally
built to surround pastures, but now bordering vineyards like those at Navarro, Husch and Handley along Highway
128. Covered with moss and thoroughly weathered, they conjure an image of the 1800s when farmers in
the Anderson Valley took local Pomo Indians into the forests to retrieve redwood. Fences were an absolute
must to protect the crops from the many voracious animals that roamed the pastureland and hills. These
crooked fences remain as an enduring reminder of the farming heritage of this bucolic valley.
Anderson Valley and Mendocino in general is now involved with promoting a different image. For years, winemakers
in Sonoma and Napa have eagerly sourced Mendocino-grown grapes and to this day approximately
75% of the grapes from Mendocino are purchased by wineries outside of the county. The grapes were often
blended into wines with another county’s name on the bottle. The early pioneers of the 1970s such as Husch,
Lazy Creek and Navarro made very credible wines, but it took Roederer Estate in the early 1980s to bring true
validation to the region as a premium grape-growing area. Roederer, and subsequently Schraffenberger,
made stellar sparkling wines from extensive Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties planted for their value in
making bubbly. Recent years have brought an emphasis on cultivating Pinot Noir clones appropriate for still
wine, and even Roederer produces still Pinot Noirs. The current class of Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs can hold
their own with any appellation in California, and winemakers outside Anderson Valley are fighting for grapes.
Still, the perception of quality among the trade and public has lagged. Prices for Anderson Valley Pinot Noir trail all of the other major Pinot Noir growing counties of California. To raise the profile of Mendocino
grapes, a promotional organization, the Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission, has been formed.
Recently, the Commission conducted trade tastings to demonstrate the high standard of wines produced
in Mendocino and has launched an advertising program to elevate the image of Mendocino
The Pinot Noir wineries of Anderson Valley are profiled in the following pages. For locations of major
wineries and vineyards in the Anderson Valley refer to the map on page 3 (courtesy of the Anderson
Valley Winegrowers Association). Current winery releases are included.
Baxter Winery. Father Phil Baxter and son Phil Jr. produce single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from
their family farm in Elk in the Mendocino Ridge appellation. They also craft a number of other red
varietals under the Baxter Winery label and the Philippe-Lorraine label. Phil has many years of winemaking
experience in the wine industry including stints at Charles Krug, Souverain, Rutherford Hill
and Domaine Michel. Phil Jr. is a University of California Davis graduate who trained in France, including
time in the vineyards of Domaine de la Vougeraie. The wines are available retail, with no internet
sales. The new website is www.baxterwinery.com. No tasting room. 28000 Greenwood Rd, Elk,
95432, 707-877-3727. 2004 Baxter Winery Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 185
cases, $40, 2004 Baxter Winery Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir 43 cases, $40.
Black Kite Cellars. This is a new label committed to producing
small lots of premium Pinot Noir. Don and Maureen Green purchased their
vineyard in 1995. It is located in the coolest part of the “deep end” of the
Anderson Valley overlooking the Navarro River. The vineyard consists of
three 4-acre blocks planted to Pommard and Dijon 114 and 115 clones. In
the future, the owners plan to produce distinct wines from each block in the
Burgundian mold. The Greens are avid ornithologists and have named their
Pinot Noirs after the beautiful black-shouldered kite (hawk) which is an
endangered species in the Anderson Valley. The winemaker is Jeff Gaffner
who has made special Zinfandels and Pinot Noirs for years under his family
label, Saxon-Brown. The winemaking regimen includes aging in 100% new French oak for 10 months.
2005 Black Kite Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 289 cases, $35, 2005 Black Kite Redwood’s Edge
Vineyard Block Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 73 cases, $40, and 2005 Black Kite Stony Terrace
Vineyard Block Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 73 cases, $48. The wines are sold on the website,
www.blackkitecellars.com. Limited retail distribution. No tasting room. 415-923-0277.
A new label and winery located on Highway 128
just south of the town of Philo. The winery was profiled in the PinotFile
previously (Volume 6, Issue 17). Breggo means sheep in Boontling and is
derived from the Spanish word Borrego of the same meaning. Breggo’s
young owner and winemaker, Douglas Ian Stewart, grew up in Sonoma
and was convinced that cool and marginal sites produced the best wines.
In 2000, along with his wife Lucia Benitez-Stewart (an Ecuadorian whose
family had ranching roots), Stewart bought an old 203-acre sheep ranch.
At one time it was part of the huge Rawles Ranch, a 4,000 acre property
homesteaded by the Rawles family in the 1850s. Knowing that sheep and
grapevines flourish in areas considered climatically and geographically undesirable, Stewart laid
down his roots. He renovated the house on the property and built a small winery. He sourced premium
grapes from notable Anderson Valley vineyards, and hired a consulting winemaker, Ryan Hodgins,
from Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma. Stewart purchased the latest in gentle winemaking equipment including the first-of-its-kind Coquard Bucket Press invented by Anderson Valley’s own Michel Salgue.
The winery and tasting room are located at 11001 Highway 128, Boonville. Wines may be purchased
online at www.breggo.com
or through retail stores. The phone is 707-895-9589. 2005 Breggo Anderson
Valley Pinot Noir 679 cases, $35, 2005 Breggo Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot
Noir 193 cases, $50, and 2005 Breggo Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 165 cases,$50.
The Brutocao family was originally from Italy and after immigrating to
California, married into the Bliss family of farmers. Irv Bliss bought his Anderson Valley property in
the mid-1940s and the family began making wine in 1991. The label features the Italian Lion of St.
Mark, a symbol of family tradition and quality. Brutocao Cellars produces many varietals including
Pinot Noir from 425 acres farmed in the southern areas of Mendocino County. The winemaker is Fred
Nickel. The winery’s two tasting rooms are in Hopland and Philo. The tasting room in Philo is a picturesque
wood barn-like building open daily from 10-5 at 7000 Highway 128, Philo. The wines are sold
on the website at www.brutocaocellars.com
. The phone is 707-895-2152. Brutocao also operates
“Personal Vineyards” at Brutocao which allows consumers to make their own wine (1-800-530-4567).
Christine Woods Winery. The 52-acre vineyard and winery are located across the street
from Handley Cellars and have recently been sold to the co-owners of Harmonique Pinot Noir, Bruce
and Moira Conzelman and Bob and Claudia Klindt. The vineyard, which will be known as Counzelman
Vineyard, is being renovated, new plantings of Pinot Noir are going in, and the winery will eventually
be producing Harmonique Pinot Noir under the direction of winemaker Bob Klindt. 31255 Highway
Claudia Springs Winery
. In 1989, owners Bob and Claudia Klindt purchased the 20-acre
property and winery where Milla Handley (Handley Cellars) crafted her first wines. Along with partner
Warren Hein, they also purchased an adjacent undeveloped 20-acre plot (Hein Vineyard photo
below, right). Bob Klindt had been a home winemaker for several years and began producing wines
under the Claudia Springs label while still living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He concentrated initially
on Zinfandel as Pinot Noir grapes were hard to come by. Crafting wines out of a rudimentary and
tiny winery under his hillside home, Bob ‘s wines were well received and consistently won medals in
every vintage since the first in 1989. The Heins eventually sold their share in the venture. Along with
other family members, the Klindts planted 8 acres of Pinot Noir on the property in 1998 (vineyard
photo below, left) and released the first Pinot Noir from their own estate vineyard in 2001. The clonal selection is Pommard and Dijon 113, 115, 667 and 777. Winemaking is
traditional using native yeasts and 30% new French oak. Very small quantities
of other varietals including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Pinot Gris and
Viognier are also produced. A tasting room is open M-F 11-5 at 1810 Highway
128 (mile marker 16 next to the Rock Shop) in Philo. If you run into
Bob at the tasting room, you are in for a treat. He has a wealth of knowledge
about Anderson Valley and can relate many humorous tales of his
winemaking career there. The website is www.claudiasprings.com
the phone is 707-895-3993. 2003 Claudia Springs Estate Anderson Valley
Pinot Noir 14.7% alc., 471 cases, $24, and 2004 Claudia Springs Estate Anderson Valley Pinot
Noir 14.7% alc., 300 cases, $24.
. Chris and Lyn Demuth farm 8 acres of Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay in the hills just north of Boonville. The vines are 18 years
old and planted at 1,600 feet, one of the highest points in the region. The
Pinot Noir clones here are Pommard and Wädenswil. Small quanitites of
Pinot Noir are produced under the Demuth label, but most of the grapes
are sold to prominent wineries such as Adrian Fog, Ant Hill Farms, Skewis,
and Whitethorn. Tour and tasting are by appointment. ( I met Chris at the
Festival and also talked with some people who have visited and they
enjoyed their experience very much). 16125 Deer Meadows Rd., Boonville.
The website, www.demuthwinery.com
, contains basic information only. The
wines are sold directly to visitors and through the website. 707-895-3729. 2003 Demuth Winery
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (the 2004 vintage is to be released soon).
Jason Drew has been making wine since 1980 when he
helped out his uncle plant a vineyard in Napa Valley. He received his
winemaking education both in California and Australia. In 2000, he
formed his own label with his wife Molly while he was Associate
Winemaker at Babcock Vineyards and Winery in the Santa Rita Hills.
In 2003 he left Babcock to concentrate on his own label, and in 2004
purchased a ridgetop property overlooking the Anderson Valley to
the east and the Pacific Ocean 3 miles to the west. A winery was built
on the property and the Drews’ first estate vineyard is in the planning
stages. Molly is actively involved in the family business and is managing the winery’s affairs as well as
assisting in winemaking and offering her opinions on vintage decisions and blending. Currently, the
Pinot Noir lineup of grapes is sourced from Santa Barbara County, Anderson Valley, Sonoma Coast and
the Yorkville Highlands. The wines are sold largely to restaurants, through retail channels, and a
mailing list. The current releases are not available from the winery’s website at www.drewwines.com
but may still be in the marketplace. The winery mailing address is PO Box 313, Elk and the phone is
Elke Vineyards. Profiled recently in the PinotFile (Volume 6, Issue 24). Mary Elke was pouring
her 1997 Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir at the Festival, the oldest vintage I
saw at the event. It had developed nicely with seconday notes of leather, mushroom, and exotic
woods. Who says California Pinot Noir can’t age? I also sampled the inexpensive 2005 mary elke
Pinot Noir 350 cases, $19 which is touted as an everyday “Pinot for the People.” This is also sourced
from the Donnelly Creek Vineyard and I found it to be very elegant in style and quite charming. The
wines are available on the website at www.elkevineyards.com. The address is 12351 Hwy 128,
Esterlina Vineyards & Winery.
Also profiled previously in
the PinotFile (Volume 4, Issue 32). The small winery and estate vineyard
sits high on a ridge overlooking a magnificent view of the Anderson
Valley. Owned by the Sterling family, who also own vineyards in Sonoma
(Everett Ridge Vineyards) and elsewhere in Mendocino (Cole Ranch -
America’s smallest AVA and one of the few AVAs with one owner), this
boutique producer is under the direction of father Murio and his sons. Eric
Sterling, M.D., is the winemaker as well as a part-time emergency room
physician. The Cole Ranch Riesling is particularly noteworthy. 1200
Homes Ranch Rd (a 2 mile drive uphill on a dirt road), Philo. Esterlina wines are sold on the website at
. Visits by appointment. 707-895-2920. 2003 Esterlina Russian River
Valley Pinot Noir 450 cases, $35 and 2005 Esterlina Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 730 cases,
. The Duckhorn Wine Company brought a
large corporate commitment to Anderson Valley Pinot Noir in 1997.
They purchased the former Obester Winery, planted 57 acres of Pinot
Noir on the property, and subsequently purchased other local
vineyards including the former Floodgate Vineyard. They now farm a
total of 180 acres in the valley, second only to Roederer Estate’s 580
acres. Zach Rasmuson, who previously worked at Stag’s Leap Wine
Cellars and Husch is the winemaker and works with enologist Neil Bernardi
and vineyard manager Nathan Miller. Goldeneye sources fruit
from seven different vineyards for its “house style” estate bottling.
Rasmuson works with 49 different clonal and rootstock combinations of Pinot Noir planted in 80 separate
blocks. Single vineyard bottlings are being offered for the first time in 2004 from the Confluence
Estate Vineyard and The Narrows Vineyard (formerly Floodgate Vineyard). The tasting room is
housed in a charming white cottage that is open daily from 11-4. The address is 9200 Hwy 128, Philo.
The wines are sold through a mailing list and also enjoy widespread retail distribution. The website is
. 707-895-3202. 2004 Migration Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is blend of
13 vineyard sources, $32, 2004 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $52, 2004 Goldeneye Confluence
Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $70, and 2004 Goldeneye The Narrows Vineyard
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $70.
Greenwood Ridge Vineyards.
Based on the Mendocino Ridge, this venerable
winery has been producing multiple varietals since 1980. The winery’s beautiful tasting
room is located in Anderson Valley on Highway 128 and can be easily spotted by the colorful
flags waving in the breeze at the entrance. This is a special place for a picnic. The
wines are bottled with a unique etched design on the front instead of a label. The winery is
host to the annual California Wine Tasting Championships. The tasting room address is
5501 Highway 128 in Philo. Wines are sold on the website www.greenwoodridge.com
707-895-2002. 2005 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir 125
cases, $25, sold out.
Gryphon Wines. Jonathan O’Bergin has owned land in Anderson Valley since 1978.
Currently, he farms 8 acres of Pinot Noir in the “Deep End” of the valley between Philo and
Navarro. 831-277-3849 2004 Gryphon Wines Larklinn Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $44.
Established in 1982, this winery is one of the few in which
both the owner and winemaker are the same woman, in this case, Milla Handley.
Milla started out very modestly with 250 cases of Chardonnay made in her home basement.
Together with her husband, Rex McClellan, who is now deceased, she built
Handley Cellars into a prestigious operation producing 20,000 cases per year and
now presides over a 59-acre estate and a state-of-the-art winery. Along the way, she
has become both a role model for aspiring women winemakers and a spokesperson
for the Anderson Valley. She has been quite innovative and practiced sustainability
in her vineyards long before it became fashionable. Mille is the great-granddaughter
of the owner of the Blitz-Weinhard Brewery in Portland, Oregon. Raised in the San
Francisco Bay Area, she studied at University of California Davis but realized early on
that winemaking suited her more than large-scale beer production. After schooling,
she studied under two wine masters, Richard Arrowood at Chateau St Jean and Jed
Steel at Edmeades. Her estate vineyard of 30 acres is on a south-facing hillside adjacent
to the winery. Planting began in 1986 and continued up until 1999. There are
12.5 acres of Pinot Noir in addition to Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. She also
farms vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,
Viognier, Syrah) and the3-acre T-Rex Vineyard surrounding her Anderson Valley
home planted in 1999 and 2001 (Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris). Her charming tasting
room is filled with her family collection of Oxacan, Indian and African folk art and includes
a serene sculpture garden. The staff here( all women) are most friendly. The wines are sold to
wine club members who receive an excellent newsletter in booklet format and are distributed to restaurants
and retail stores. The website is www.handleycellars.com
. The winery is located at 3151
Hwy. 128, Philo. 1-800-733-3151. 2005 Handley Mendocino County Pinot Noir 3500 cases, $22, 2005
Handley Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $28, and 2004 Handley Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
350 cases, 1151 cases, $52. Handley also crafts an excellent sparkler, 2003 Handley Brute Rosé $36.
The property was so picturesque that I have included several photos from my recent visit.
In 2002, veteran winemaker Bob Klindt of Claudia
Springs teamed with Bruce Conzelman, a real estate developer and
long-time pinotphile. Their goal was to produce a single Pinot Noir
blend from Anderson Valley fruit. The vineyards chosen for the new
label included the Wiley Vineyard planted with 29-year-old vines in the
westernmost reaches of the valley and the 7-year-old Klindt Vineyard
located a mile east of Wiley. While blending the various lots, two distinct
wines emerged and were bottled separately: “Delicacé,” a more
feminine style, and “The Noble One,” a more opulent and structured
Pinot Noir. The two bottlings have been continued, although with the acquisition of the Christine
Woods Vineyard, multiple bottlings under the Harmonique label may be in the offing. Success came
quickly to Harmonique with the 2002 Harmonique “The Noble One” wining a Double Gold Medal in
2005 at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Harmonique currently shares the Claudia
Springs tasting room and offers tasting Fri-Sun 11-5. The wines are highly allocated and sold primarily
to wine club members through the website at www.harmoniquewine.com
. 707-895-3993. 2003 vintage
of both wines sold out. 2004 Harmonique “The Noble One” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $48.
Husch Vineyards. As noted in Part I of this two part coverage of the Anderson Valley, The Knoll
Vineyard at Husch was the first planting of Pinot Noir in the Anderson Valley (1968). The Knoll Vineyard
began with a Wente field selection of Pinot Noir and the first vintage was 1971. Vineyard manager
Al White has been at Husch since 1973, and current winemaker, Brad Holstine, has been on board
since 2003. Holstine likes to describe Pinot Noir as a “chameleon” in that it is always changing in the
bottle and in the glass. He also notes that Pinot Noir “has transcending looks - pale, but flavorpacked.”
In the early years of The Knoll Vineyard Pinot Noir, the juice was blended at pressing,
pumped over aggressively and subjected to batonage (lees stirring). The resultant wines were tannic
and aggressive and needed at least five years to come around. The 1974 vintage sold for $5! During
the 1980s, attention was turned to tannin management using more barrel and bottle age. There were
significant problems with sterility. In 1985 the wine sold for $12. Currently the winemaking regimen
for The Knoll Vineyard Pinot Noir includes fractional whole clusters, short cold soaks, hand punchdowns,
secondary fermentation in barrel, bulldog racking, and 33% new oak for 18 months. Husch
also farms the 128 acre La Ribera Ranch in the Ukiah Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc,
Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc) and produces a total of 18 different wines. The current owners of
Husch are the third generation Oswald family (Hugo Oswald Jr. bought Husch in 1979), Zac Robinson
and Amanda Robinson Holstine. Husch’s tasting room is a small, weathered shack that once was a
chicken coop and is open daily 10-6. The address is 4400 Hwy. 128, Philo. The website is
www.huschvineyards.com. 707-895-3216. The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is widely distributed. 2005
Husch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 4350 cases, $21, 2004 Husch ‘Knoll’ Anderson Valley Pinot
Noir 265 cases, $38, sold out.
Lazy Creek Vineyards.
Refer to Part I (Issue 27) of the
PinotFile for the history of this winery. While visiting the Lazy
Creek Open House at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, I
met another couple of ophthalmologists (what is it with wine and
eyes? - see article on Londer Vineyards as well). Retired ophthalmologist,
David Noorthoek, M.D., is a co-owner of Lazy
Creek Vineyards along with the Chandlers, and Beth Chandler’s
father is a practicing ophthalmologist in Modesto! The Lazy
Creek estate is marked by an old and noble sign as you enter
the property through a narrow forested road from Highway128.
The winery itself is quite small and quaint but very welcoming.
Chandler has an interesting background of varied talents including vineyard
grower, trained chef, and landscape architect. The Chandlers have added to
the original 19 acres of vineyards they obtained when they purchased the
property in 1999, and now farm 30 estate acres. The original Pinot Noir plantings
consist of multiple heritage and suitcase clones. Winemaking is unique
in that after fermentation at least a portion of the Pinot Noir is put into large
oak casks. The tasting room at 4741 Highway128 in Philo is open by appointment,
but if the gate is open, feel free to go in. The small production is sold
primarily at the winery. Lazy Creek has a well-deserved reputation for Gewürztraminer
as well. A website, www.lazycreekvineyards.com
, is under
construction. 707-895-3623. NV Anderson Valley Red Table Wine (Pinot
Noir), 2004 Lazy Creek Vineyards Anderson Valley Estate Pinot Noir $42,
2005 Lazy Creek Vineyards Anderson Valley Estate Pinot Noir $42, and
2004 Lazy Creek Vineyards R.P.B. Estate Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 96 cases. The estate
wines are bottled in heavy glass with the Lazy Creek logo (a replica of the entrance sign) embossed
in glass on the neck.
. Larry and Shirlee Londer left a comfortable
life in Albuquerque, New Mexico (he was an ophthalmologist
who directed a large multi-doctor practice and she ran the optical
shop) to farm grapes and make wine in the Anderson Valley. In
1999, the Londers teamed with a few investor-friends to purchase a
bucolic farm property in Philo. Larry wanted to name the venture
Anderson Valley Vineyards, but the name was already taken by a
winery in Albuquerque of all places and they wouldn’t relinquish the
name. The Londers planted a small estate Pinot Noir vineyard and
sourced grapes from multiple vineyards (now confined only to Anderson Valley sources). Larry has a
rye sense of humor and likes to detail the struggles and hard work that running a small boutique winery
entails (“we work 8 days a week and still don’t have enough time”), but you sense that he is loving
every minute of it. Winemaker Greg LaFollette got them started and still consults, but the current
winemaker is talented Richard Davis, who also has his own label in Sonoma, Calstar Cellars, and consults
for Halleck, Alcina Cellars, and La Czar. The Londers invite visitors by appointment (707-895-
3900). The property is stunning with vineyards encircled by fruit orchards and towering redwoods.
The website is www.londervineyards.com
. 2005 Londer Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 1,700 cases,
$33, 2005 Londer Paraboll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 500 cases, $54, and 2005 Londer Estate
Grown Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $50. A photo of the Londer Crew at their recent Open House is below.
. The winery’s profile was featured in Part I
(Issue 27) of the Anderson Valley Issue. Navarro began planting grapes in
the Anderson Valley in 1974. The children of founders Ted Bennett and
Deborah Cahn, Aaron and Sarah Cahn Bennett, are now actively involved in
the winery as well. Sarah received a Masters degree in viticulture and enology
from University California Davis and has applied her research on the
phenolics of Mendocino Pinot Noir to Navarro’s already stellar lineup of
Pinot Noirs. She is assisting winemaker Jim Klein, who has been at Navarro
for over 15 years. Aaron designed Navarro’s first website in 1996 and his
internet savvy adds to Navarro’s impressive marketing history. Navarro now
produces 40,000 cases of wine a year, 10,000 cases of which are Pinot Noir. They farm nine vineyard
sites and blend 40-54 lots of Pinot Noir prior to bottling each vintage. Navarro has been innovative
from the beginning. Most recently when I walked the vineyards, I was struck by a portable chicken
house. It turns out, the chickens are a very effective way to mow, sucker and limit pests in the vineyard
without using fossil fuels. (Navarro estate vineyard). The wines are sold online at
as well as retail stores nationwide. The tasting room and winery are at 5601
Highway128, Philo. Tasting room hours are daily 10-6 (11-5 in winter). The grounds are perfect for picnicking
and viewing llamas (with Sarah below). 707-895-3686.
2005 Navarro Mendocino Pinot Noir $18, 2004 Navarro Methode l’Ancienne Anderson Valley
Pinot Noir $25 and 2004 Navarro Deep End Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $45.
Phillips Hill Estates.
This winery has an very interesting
background and is best read on the website with a glass of Pinot in
hand. Briefly. owner and winemaker Toby Hill grew up in San Francisco
and had an accomplished career in the art business in New York. Like
so many who long for a less harried lifestyle, he returned to San
Francisco and eventually found a piece of heaven in the hills
overlooking Anderson Valley. He built a house and an adjacent art
studio, but when some unfinished Pinot Noir became available, the
studio became a winery and Hill released his first Pinot Noir in 2002. He
now sources grapes from the Oppenlander Vineyard on Shandel Ranch
in Comptche’s Surprise Valley and the Toulouse Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Interestingly, William
Shandel planted 15 different varietals of grapes in 1984 tryint to decide which performed best in this
cool site close to the ocean. It wasn’t long before he decided on Pinot Noir and now supplies grapes to
several producers. Phillips Hill Estates wines are sold on the website at www.phillipshillestates.com
25690 Philo Greenwood Road, Philo. 707-877-1151. 2005 Phillips Hill Estates Oppenlander
Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir 200 cases, $42, 2005 Phillips Hill Estates Toulouse Vineyard
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 100 cases, $40.
Philo Ridge Vineyards
Fred Buonanno and Heather McKelvey searched for
four years before finding their dream property high on a ridge in the Anderson Valley.
They answered an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle and fell in love with the site
immediately. They bought the 40+ acres in 1999. Far up in the hills on a 5.33 mile dirt
road, the vineyard had been planted in 1976 to Cabernet and Merlot by the original
owner Vernon Rose of Christine Woods Winery. Since the couple had no farming
experience, they hired vineyardist Norman Koble to supervise the planting of Pinot
Noir and Pinot Gris on the property. Their first vintage was 2001. Hovering around
1,000 cases of multiple varietals, they eventually plan to feature primarily Pinot Noir.
Fred’s business card says he is both the “tractor butt and owner.” The mailing address
is PO Box 525, Philo 95466, Appointments are available on weekends by calling 707-
489-2303. The website is www.philoridge.com
. I sampled both the 2001 and 2004
vintages at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and was suitably impressed. 2004
Philo Ridge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $28.
Raye’s Hill Vineyard & Winery.
Raye and Dan Sokolow are
Chicago refugees who moved to the Anderson Valley and planted their estate
vineyard in 1997. They currently make 1,000 cases of wine (primarily Pinot
Noir) from their estate Pinot Noir vineyard and several other notable
vineyards in the valley. The wines are available on the website at
. 3400 Chardonnay Lane, Philo. 707-895-3439. 2003
Raye’s Hill Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $32, 2004 Raye’s Hill Estate
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $30, 2004 Raye’s Hill Anderson Valley Pinot
Noir $24, 2004 Raye’s Hill Raye’s Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $30,
2004 Raye’s Hill Wightman House Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir,
and 2004 Raye’s Hill Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
Since 1981, Roederer Estate has been
developing its own vineyards and crafting fine sparkling wines.
Jean-Claude Rouzaud, chairman of Champagne Louis Roederer
and grandson of Madame Camille Olry Roederer, chose the 58-
acre Anderson Valley vineyard and winery site. Roederer Estate
now farms 580 acres of Pinot Noir (clones 32, 33, Pommard, Dijon
667 and 777) and Chardonnay, and all wines are made from
estate grapes. The winery’s Anderson Valley Estate Brut debuted
in 1988, and in 1993 was joined by the first vintage sparkler, L’Ermitage 1989. An Estate Brut Rosé and
vintage dated L’Ermitage Rosé are also produced. The sparkling wines are in the upper echelon of
those made in California. The winemaking team is all French headed by Arnaud Weyrich. Roederer
(Maisons Marques & Domaines) also owns nearby Scharffenberger Cellars (formerly Pacific Echo and
originally Scharffenberger) which also had its beginnings in 1981. Roederer Estate has quietly been
making a still Pinot Noir since 1992, which is only sold through the tasting room. The tasting room is
open daily from 11-5 at 4501 Hwy. 128, Philo. 2005 Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $23. This was tasted at the Festival and I can recommend it. It is a low-alcohol, finesse-filled
Pinot Noir that is smooth and soft in texture and leaves a lingering impression of Asian spices and Pinot
black fruits. The website is www.roedererestate.net
. 707-895-2288. The sparkling wines are widely
distributed. NV Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut 65,000 cases, $23, NV Roederer Estate Brut
Rosé 3,000 cases, $27, 2000 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage 5,548 cases, and 1999 Roederer Estate
L’Ermitage Rosé 650 cases, $72.
Originally founded in 1981 by
John Scharffenberger (who also started the Scharffenberger chocolate
company now sold to Hershey), the winery was sold in 1998 and
renamed Pacific Echo. As noted above, it was acquired in 2004 by
Maisons Marques & Domaines and the original name restored. Tex
Sawyer has been winemaker here since 1989. The tasting room at
8501 Hwy 128, Philo is open daily from 11-5 and features work from
local artists. The website is www.scharffenbergercellars.com
895-2957. NV Scharffenberger Brut 25,000 cases, $19.
Toulouse Vineyards & Winery
Standish Wine Company. This is a new winery located in Philo at
5101 Highway128. The principals have some distant familial relationship to
Miles Standish who came to America with the pilgrims on the Mayflower. The
tasting room is open daily except Tuesday. 707-895-9213. 2005 Standish
Wine Company Day Ranch Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($32).
. Vern and Maxine Boltz are
urban refugees from the Bay Area where Vern was an Oakland Fire
Department Captain and home builder, and Maxine was a flight attendant
and real estate professional. They purchased 160 acres near Philo in 1997
and planted a 17-acre vineyard to Pinot Noir (Wädenswil, 115, 667, and 777).
The vineyard was named Toulouse after a huge goose that weighs up to 35
pounds or more. Despite its large size, the goose is a placid bird and thrives
in the tranquility of the vineyard. A toulouse is prominently displayed on the
label. The vineyard has supplied grapes for several producers such as
Pacific Echo, MacPhail, Baxter and Phillips Hill Estates. In 2002 the Boltzs
started their own label. The wines are sold through the website at www.toulousevineyards.com
Tasting is by appointment. 8001 Hwy. 128, Philo. 707-895-2828. 2003 Toulouse Estate Anderson
Valley Pinot Noir $33, 2003 Toulouse Estate Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $42, 2004
Toulouse Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $36, and 2005 Toulouse Estate Anderson Valley Pinot
Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery. This property is owned by Steve Ledson, a fifth
generation farmer and owner of Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood. A tasting room is open daily
10-5 at 14077 Highway128 in Boonville. 707-895-9462. 2005 Zina Hyde Cunningham Anderson
Valley Pinot Noir $40. This wine won a Gold Medal at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine