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Cottonwood Canyon wines are treasured primarily by a select following who have visited the winery . The wines are only sold at the winery and to the winery’s Connoisseur Club members. A small boutique winery that specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Cottonwood Canyon was founded in 1988 by the Beko family. When the 15-year-old property was purchased, there were 46 acres of Chardonnay planted. Replanting began in 2001 and currently the 78-acre estate has 25 acres planted to Pinot Noir and fewer than 18 acres to Chardonnay (5 acres of Syrah also). There are five Pinot Noir vineyards, with Sharon’s Vineyard being the oldest (1991) and High Density Vineyard (2003) the youngest.
Cottonwood Canyon is located at the northern-most edge of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, just 19 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean resulting in significant marine climatic influence. The vineyard has cool ocean breezes throughout the day and morning and evening fog are trapped by the surrounding 7,000 foot San Rafael Mountains east of the estate. The estate vineyards sit on a flat expanse, facing in a north-south direction. The growing season is quite long, with bud-break in mid-February and ending with a mid-October harvest. Vine farming is “row-by-row and vine-by-vine,” and is supervised by vineyard manager, Frederico Arredondo.
6,000 feet of caves have been carved into wall of a canyon formed by an ancient river bed. These are used for barrel storage as well as special events. A small winery and tasting room comprise the current estate buildings.
2003 Cottonwood Canyon High Density Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., two barrels, 500 ml bottles. Wädenswil clone (2A). 10% Syrah used to top off barrels. · Dark purple in color. Plenty of racy red fruits and hints of vanilla and spice in the aromatics which carry through to the finish which adds a pepper note. Some unresolved tannins. Drinkable now but will only improve with time in the cellar. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2001 Cottonwood Canyon Estate Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.91% alc., 709 cases, $39. The first entire vintage where the wine was left for 18 months on the lees in unopened French oak barrels. Aged for 20 months in barrel. From the estate’s Sharon’s Vineyard and Elizabeth’s Vineyard. Just released! · Light ruby in color. Earthy scents of wet leaves, hay, charcoal, minerals and a little toast. Red stone fruits, earth and wood shed, smoke, pepper and spice and everything nice. Elegant with fine grained tannins. An interesting and charming drink. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2001 Cottonwood Canyon Elizabeth’s Vista Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 228 cases, $48. 18 months in French oak. Clones 2A and Freedom. · Herbs, light oak, wild berries and earthy notes in the nose are echoed in the flavors. Light in body with plenty of finesse. A lip-smacker that is easy to drink and easy to like. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2000 Cottonwood Canyon Sharon’s Vineyard Barrel Select Santa Maria
? alc.. An illustration of Sharon’s Vineyard by artist Michael Humphreys is on the attractive label. · Burnished red in color. A rich and heady nose displaying dark berries, raisin and new leather. Ripe cherries leap out on the palate with a hint of pepper and oak. I liked this wine a lot for its aged patina. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2000 Cottonwood Canyon Estate Pinot Noir
14.37% alc., 600 cases, $39. Sharon’s Vineyard and Elizabeth’s Vista Vineyard. Aged in 50% new oak. · Very slight orange-tinged rim. Bright crushed berries with a little raisin note make for pleasing aromatics. A bit rustic for me with soft berry and red stone fruits with a pastry dough and almond sidecar. Not my cup of tea. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
1995 Cottonwood Canyon Sharon’s Vineyard Estate Santa Maria Valley
13.0% alc., $58. · The wine has retained a pretty garnet color. The bouquet is typical for an aged Pinot Noir with shy cherry fruit complimented by oak, wet stone, spearmint and some minerality. Tart cherry and cranberry fruit flavors are a bit faded. There is crisp acidity and noticeable, but soft, tannins on the finish. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
1994 Cottonwood Canyon Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
12.4% alc., 325 cases (750ml), 150 cases (500 ml). Sierra Madre Vineyard. 21 months in French oak. · A subtle hint of orange in the rim. Rich Bing cherry and spice aromas lead the show. The palate is all Pinot with red stone fruits, cranberry, herbs and green tomato flavors. The bright acidity gives the wine freshness and some residual tannins add structure. This wine is holding up remarkably well. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
1991 Cottonwood Canyon Santa Barbara Pinot Noir
13.02% alc., 364 cases (750 ml), 192 cases, $65. (500 ml). Aged 19 months in 40% new French oak. Sierra Madre Vineyard. · Light ruby in color. Toast, oak and tobacco on the nose. Cranberry, red cherry and a touch of animale and funk compose the flavor profile. Palate-cleansing acidity on the finish. A dead ringer for an older Burgundy and to me the best of the older Pinots in the lineup. A treat. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »