VOLUME 10, ISSUE 11
May 25, 2015
Westwood bottles a single Pinot Noir, Syrah, a Rhone blend and a Rosé from the winery's Annadel Estate Vineyard planted beginning in 2001 at the northwestern end of the Sonoma Valley AVA. Westwood Winery was founded in 1984 in the Sierra Foothills by Bert Urch and his wife Betty Stoltz. . The name of the winery came from the street where the owners' garage-based productions began before they founded a full-fledged winery. Westwood's first commercial bottling was a 1984 Pinot Noir made from grapes grown in Lake County, and produced by Bert at Greg Boeger's winery in Placerville. In 1985, Bert connected with Duncan Haynes, who owned a well-established Pinot Noir vineyard in eastern Napa and Bert made his first Westwood Haynes Vineyard Pinot Noir that year. Shortly thereafter, Westwood Winery was re-located to Sunny Oak Farm in Shingle Springs, about eight miles west of Placerville in the Sierra Foothills.
John Kelly, a graduate of University of California at Davis with a degree in biochemistry, became friends with Bert before Westwood Winery was founded and would help out at the winery during and after his schooling. After graduating from Davis, Kelly acquired years of winemaking experience including stints at Sonoma-Cutrer, Duckhorn, and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. In1998, Kelly formed a partnership, Annadel Vineyard Partners, LLC and purchased a 37-acre parcel of prime vineyard land at the northwest end of the Sonoma Valley. The Annadel Estate was immediately developed with the planting of Pinot Noir and Syrah.
Urch passed away in 1994 and Kelly helped his widow keep the winery running for a few years until Kelly's partnership bought the winery in 2002 and moved it to Sonoma Valley.
Westwood produced a Haynes Pinot Noir continuously from 1985 to 2005 (2006 was declassified), pulled from the same 1.5 acres. Located on the east side of the Napa Valley near Coombsville, the site is slightly warmer than the Russian River Valley. The Haynes story is complex. The land had been in Duncan Hayne's family since the 1880s. At the time he inherited it, he was Louis Martini's lawyer. Louis advised him to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and assisted Duncan in obtaining white budwood from Wente (or Stony Hill?), and cut the Pinot Noir budwood himself from his vineyard in Carneros. Louis was giving budwood away to many people who were getting started with Pinot Noir in the 1960s. Kelly's understanding is that he gave each a different selection according to his whim or some plan known only to him.
The original Pinot Noir budwood at Haynes was pulled from Martini's experiments with clones, before the wood went to University of California at Davis for clean up and development of the certified "Martini" clones. Kelly believes the Haynes selection was unique and yielded a one-of-a-kind wine. Over time yields diminished and Ken Bernards advised Duncan to plant Swan selection and the original vines were to be pulled out. Kelly asked vineyard manager Fernando Delgado for some budwood. At Haynes, the Pinot Noir was grafted on St. George, planted on 9' x 12' spacing and pruned to 2 to 4 canes and 4 spurs on a 3 wire sprawl. At Annadel Estate, the wood was grafted in 2007 onto 101-14 rootstock, planted to 4' x 6' spacing, and pruned to 2 canes and 2 spurs on a vertical trellis. There are 1.5 acres planted at Annadel to the Haynes budwood selection and the first fruit will be pulled off the vines in 2010.
There are a total of 13 acres of Pinot Noir planted at Annadel Estate. Besides the Martini selection, plantings include Dijon clones 115 and 667 planted in 2001-2002 and Dijon clones 777 and 943 planted in 2006. The oldest vines are fully mature. In 2009 additional Dijon clone 943 was planted along with Mt. Eden, Calera and Chambertin selections and Pommard clones.
Ultimately, Kelly may do a Dijon clone bottling and a "heritage" selection bottling. If any one of the heritage selections stands out from the others, it may be bottled separately as well. A Pinot Noir is also produced from purchased grapes from the Nicholson Ranch Vineyard in Sonoma Valley
The wines, including library wines, are sold online with some retail distribution. The winery's Tasting Salon is located in downtown Sonoma at 11 East Napa Street and is open daily. Appointments are encouraged but not required. Tasting is $20 per person for 4-6 wines. The tasting often lasts 1-2 hours.
Kelly has written an informative online diary since 2004 (www.winemakernotesblog.com).
In September 2014, Kelly noted in his blog that he was no longer a partner in the investor group that owned Westwood Winery and Estate Vineyard. He stepped aside amicably as winemaker, general manager, vineyard manager and head of marketing and public relations. Kelly had struggled with chronic under capitalization of the winery operations for years.
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