Willowbrook Cellars

Owner(s) Joe Otos, John Tracy
Web site www.willowbrookcellars.com
Link to this site

John Tracy of Owl Ridge Wine Services has many winery clients at his custom-crush facility in the old Vacu-Dry plant on Gravenstein Highway in Sebstopol. A high-tech entrepreneur with a soft spot for owls, Tracy bought a vineyard in Forestville and then teamed with winemaker Joe Otos to form Willowbrook Cellars. Because of his interest in Bordeaux varietals, Tracy also started Owl Ridge Wines. Otos makes the wines for both Owl Ridge (Sonoma Bordeaux varietals) and Willowbrook (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir).

Joe Otos was attending Sonoma State, majoring in business a number of years ago. While working part-time at Ravenswood Winery, he developed a passion for winemaking. He changed his career path, and developed his winemaking skills under Chris Loxton at Wellington Vineyards. Later he met up with John Tracy and the two have formed a very successful business partnership.

Pinot Noir grapes are sourced from several premium vineyards in Sonoma and Marin counties. The wines are sold on the website. Tasting by appointment.

Reviewed Wines

2013 Willowbrook Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 388 cases $28. Released November 2014. Sourced from two vineyards in the Sebastopol Hills. Calera and Dijon 115 clones. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Perfumed with hi-tone aromas of cherry, ripe strawberry and sandalwood. Tasty core of cherry fruit accented with spice, toasty oak and red licorice notes. A solid wine with balanced tannins, a good grab of cherry on the finish, but plenty of toasty oak. Score: 89. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

2013 Willowbrook J.C.O. Limited by Joseph C. Otes Kastania Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4%alc., $42. Sourced from a small well-known, established and family owned vineyard. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, earth and terra cotta are enchanting. Earthy on the palate as well, with mid weight flavors of red cherry and red berry. Soft, smooth, comforting and forward, with impeccable balance. Score: 91. Reviewed July 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Willowbrook Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., $42. From a 3-acre vineyard located in the southwestern corner of the Russian River Valley. A mix of Dijon and Pommard clones and Swan and Calera selections. · Light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, cranberry, sandalwood and rose petal rise from the glass. Light and elegant, with a charge of cherry fruit on the attack and finish. Silky in the mouth with a whisper of smoky oak in the background. Demure but satisfying. Score: 89. Reviewed January 23, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Willowbrook Kaufmann Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $42. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very pleasant array of scents including Bing cherry, black raspberry coulis and conifer. Light to mid weight flavors of black cherry, plum and cassis. Soft and caressing on the palate with impressive mid palate presence and finishing length. Forward drinking with modest tannins and well integrated acidity. Still very appealing the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. Reviewed January 23, 2015 ARTICLE »

2011 Willowbrook Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 168 cases, $42. Released July 2013. From JCO Limited Wine by Joseph C. Otos. Grapes are from a 7-acre high-altitude vineyard. A mix of Dijon and Mariafeld clones. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is savory with predominant aromas of dried herbs, bark and tea leaf. Some red cherry and spice shows up over time in the glass. Juicy and bright, offering light to mid weight flavors of red cherries and berries with an herbal and oak (tobacco and mocha) underpinning, finishing a bit shallow. Score: 87. Reviewed August 15, 2014 ARTICLE »

2009 Willowbrook Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 134 cases, $42. Released March 2011. Aged 17 months in French and Polish oak. This vineyard is located in the northernmost part of Marin County, an area known for late, lingering fog and intense, cool winds from Point Reyes. Vineyard management is by Mark Pasternak. · Moderate reddish-purple robe. Aromas of strawberries, dark red raspberries and loamy earth. Smoky, earthy and rustic with flavors of plums, black currents and dark raspberries. The mouth feel is soft and the tannins are powdery. Bright acidity contributes a little sharpness on the finish. Good. Reviewed August 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Willowbrook Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 192 cases, $42. Released July 2011. This vineyard is located between the Silver Pines and Van der Kamp vineyards in the western corner of Sonoma Mountain. 7 acres of Dijon clones and clone 23. The site receives 180-degree intense sun and intense winds in the afternoons. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Alluring aromas of red cherries and red raspberries with hints of spice, toasted brioche and rose petals. Medium weighted flavors of red cherries and raspberries echo the aromas with supporting oak in the background. Nicely spiced with an appealing savory edge. Well-structured with fine grain tannins suggesting age ability. Very Good. Reviewed August 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Willowbrook Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $24, screw cap. Multiple Gold Medals. This winery is really on its game. · A tasty and spirited wine with welcoming aromas of berry pie and black cherry tart. Juicy fruit flavors highlighted by lively acidity and gossamer tannins with subtle oak notes playing in the background. I found this wine for $13 at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa! Be sure to try the other 2007 and 2008 Willowbrook Pinot Noirs now offered. Good (+). Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Willowbrook JCO Limited Russian River Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $25. is Joseph Otos. · Rich, showy berry jam aromas with the slightest oak initially fading a bit in the glass revealing more oak and oily pavement scents. Medium-bodied cherry and berry fruit which is slightly confected. A forward, easy drinking wine which is light on its feet offering a pleasing cherry cola note on the lingering finish. Good. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Willowbrook 2006 Marin County Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 245 cases, $38. This is the first Marin County Pinot Noir from Willowbrook Cellars. From a low-yielding vineyard (less than 2 tons per acre) in an area known for late, lingering fog and intense, cool winds from Point Reyes. The vineyard is leased from Corda Vineyards and farmed by Mark Pasternak. Owner John Tracy and winemaker Joe Otos have been making superb single-vineyard Pinot Noirs for six vintages from their winery in Sebastopol. The fruit was gently de-stemmed, 70% whole cluster fermentation, four day cold soak, aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Very ripe black cherry and plum aromas with a hint of oak, char and roasted nuts. Rather exotic dark wild berry flavors which are haunting. All velvet in texture with a pleasing citrus note to the tangy finish. Perfect with grilled meats. Reviewed October 1, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Willowbrook Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 300 cases, $34. The 3-acre estate vineyard is planted to Dijon clones. Morning fog, warm daily sun, and cooling ocean breezes allow excellent fruit development. · Funky, shroom nose with cranberry, cherry and rhubarb notes. The fruit is muted and light in weight with herbal overtones. The balance is fine. Seems to be in a dumb phase. Reviewed September 17, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Willowbrook Morelli Lane Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 264 cases, $42. The Morelli Lane Vineyard is situated high above the town of Occidental at 900 feet. Its proximity to the coast allows for a constant cool breeze, keeping temperatures moderate and extending the growing season. All Pommard clone. · The nose is very appealing with haunting crushed red berry aromas. Red and blue fruits carry the theme across the palate with a little oak and anise adding interest. Medium in weight with fine tannins, the wine displays a little heat throughout but the overall impression is quite satisfying. Reviewed September 17, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Willowbrook Kastania Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 302 cases, $48. The Kastania Vineyard is located in the southern reaches of Sonoma County, near the Marin County border adjacent to Highway 101. The vineyard receives coastal influences from the ocean on the western side and the San Francisco Bay on the eastern side. The vineyard consists of 7 acres planted to both Pommard and Dijon clones. In 2005, the clones ripened at different times and a total of four passes were done over a five week period, picking roughly ten rows at a time. · This wine needs time to blossom, eventually opening with a delightful perfume of cherries and violets. Very nice core of cherry fruit with woodshed, forest floor and herbal influences. Supple in the mouth with well-concealed tannins. Balance is right on. Reviewed September 17, 2007 ARTICLE »

2004 Willowbrook Cellars Dutton Morelli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 334 cases, $38. The Dutton Morelli Vineyard sits at 900 feet above the town of Occidental, positioned to avoid most of the fog and yet receive the cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The clone is Pommard. · The wine is aromatically gifted with dried cherry, cranberry and floral notes. Medium-bodied and elegant in style, the mélange of red and black fruits are enhanced with herbal and oak flavors. A Gold Medal winner at the 2006 Sonoma County Harvest Fair, this is a quality Pinot. Reviewed April 30, 2007 ARTICLE »