Pellegrini Olivet Lane Heritage Pinot Noir
Bob Pellegrini is one of the wine patriarchs of the Russian River Valley. He has
been involved with wine in one way or another his entire life and he can
weave many fascinating tales about the wine business both during and after
Prohibition. The Pellegrini Family traces its wine business heritage to the
early 1900s when brother Nello and Gino Pellegrini immigrated to New York
City from their native Tuscany. They soon traveled to California and began
shipping Sonoma County grapes throughout the United States for home winemaking.
They also supplied the many Italian San Franscians who made wine
in their basements both before and during Prohibition. After the repeal of Prohibition
in 1933, the family started the Pellegrini Wine Company, shipping
grapes from Sonoma County and making wines for San Francisco’s best restaurants.
Later the family moved into wholesale distribution of imported and
In 1973, Nello’s son, Vincent, purchased a 70-acre apple and plum orchard
on West Olivet Road in Santa Rosa. Vincent’s son, Bob, was fresh
out of school and had just returned from a tour of Burgundy when he had
the idea (crazy at the time) to plant Pinot Noir on the property. In the
early 1970s, Pinot Noir vineyards were far and few between in Sonoma
County (Joe Rochioli first planted his East Block Pinot Noir in 1968). In
1975, Bob planted the Olivet Lane Vineyard to Chardonnay and Pinot
Noir (Martini clones) with the only cuttings available at the time. Fortunately,
the family had a wine import business which kept them afloat as
the winegrowing business developed. Bob says today he was just naïve
enough at the time to think it would work, but if he knew then what he
knows today, he would never have done it. The Olivet Lane Vineyard
continues to thrive on rootstock vulnerable to phylloxera and has now
seen 32 vintages. It is one of California’s cherished heritage Pinot Noir
vineyards. Bob is pictured left. Note the large trunk size of the old vines.
Vincent Pellegrini died in 1989, and remaining family members Robert, Richard and Jeanne took over
management of the wine business with the aim of focusing on premium estate-bottled artisan wines.
Besides farming the Olivet Lane Vineyard, the family acquired the 55-acre Cloverdale Ranch in the
Alexander Valley allowing them to produce a whole range of varietal wines. In 2001, a state-of-the-art
Tuscan style winery was built on the Olivet Lane Estate. In 2003, the family purchased a 12-acre vineyard
of old-clone Zinfandel alongside the Olivet Lane Vineyard. A top winemaking team was assembled
headed by talented Kevin Hamel. The wines have steadily improved and numerous awards have
You must avail yourself of Olivet Lane Estate Pinot Noir. There are only a few other heritage vineyards
in the Russian River Valley including J. Rochioli East and West Block and the Bacigalupi Vineyard, both
on Westside Road, and the Trenton Estate Vineyard at Joseph Swan.
2006 Pellegrini Olivet Lane Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $36. 10% whole clusters placed with remainder of the de-stemmed
fruit and lightly crushed. After a 3 day cold maceration, the
vats were inoculated with a selected strain of yeast. Fermentation
lasted 12 days with traditional hand punch downs. Aged 11 months in a
combination of French and Eastern European oak, 33% new.
Sensuous aromatics featuring Bing
cherry, anise, toast and strawberry. The core of red fruits is tasty and forward but elegant in presentation.
The wine is supple in the mouth with pleasing persistence and has a refreshing acid lift on the finish. Impeccable
balance. Ready to drink now, it will remain a really lovely wine over time. With a comfortable
price point, this is one to buy by the case.
Pellegrini Family Wines is located at 4035 West Olivet Road in Santa Rosa. The tasting room is warm
and inviting and the staff is very friendly. Located in the winery, the tasting room is open daily from
10:30 to 4:30. Tours are by appointment and highly recommended if Bob or Kevin are available. The
phone is 1-800-891-0244. Wines may be ordered on the website at www.pellegrinisonoma.com.
There is good retail distribution.