As I mentioned in my review of the Emeritus Vineyards 2015 Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir, this is my first time tasting from this winery. One of the things that intrigued me about Emeritus Vineyards is their story surrounding dry farming. According to the winery, dry farming Pinot Noir is common in Burgundy, but rare in California. But because of the Goldridge soils found in Emeritus’s Hallberg Ranch vineyard, located in the Green Valley AVA of Sonoma County, owner and vintner Brice Cutrer Jones decided to dry farm his vineyards since he purchased the land in 2007, planting the original apple orchard to grape vines.
The Goldridge soil with the underlying clay loam forces the vines to dig deep (nearly 20 feet) into the soil for water. This is something you may have read about in conjunction with the heartier Bordeaux varieites (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, even Petit Verdot and Malbec), but is — at least to me — a funky concept for the delicate Pinot Noir grape. According to Jones, this actually gives his Pinot Noir more complexity, a noteworthy minerality, and also allows the grapes to develop fully matured flavors at a lower Brix. Jones’s partner, Kirk Lokka notes, “Most growers pick at higher sugar levels because modern irrigation practices dilute the grapes with an excess of water. This is not the case with dry farming.”
The Pinot Hill Vineyard, located in Sebastopol, is also dry-farmed. And, again according to the winery, once Jones and Lokka purchased this property and instigated their dry farming methods on this Pinot-centric plot of land, Emeritus not has the largest dry-farmed estate in Sonoma County “and possibly California.” There are 107.76 acres planted on Hallberg Ranch, 30.68 acres planted on Pinot Hill.
Ok, that was a lot of talk about soil and stuff. But what does that all taste like in the glass?
Emeritus is a new winery for me, but has a 10-year Sonoma-based history. Emeritus was founded in 1999 by Brice Curtrer Jones after he purchased the 115-acre parcel named for previous owners, Don and Marcia Hallberg. The land was planted as an apple orchard, but Curtrer knew the value of the land in terms of grapegrowing and saw the potential for beautiful Pinot Noir.
Hallberg Ranch is located in the cool, Green Valley region of the Russian River Valley—an AVA that, in my opinion is an up-and-coming one, and one that is producing some of Sonoma’s most interesting Pinot Noir as of late.
This is a continuation of my short series (trilogy?) of Hahn Family Wines’ Lucienne portfolio, stemming from my first, more-personal write-up featuring the Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir. Unlike Doctor’s Vineyard, I’m not as familiar with Lone Oak Vineyard, even though I had tasted from this vineyard during my time at the Hahn Winery. According to the winery, the146-acre certified sustainable Lone Oak Vineyard is at the northern-most end of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Cooled by ocean breezes from the Monterey Bay, the morning fog lingers until afternoon winds pick up, resulting in a long, cool growing season. The vineyard is situated on east-facing slopes with elevations ranging between 180 and 500 feet, and well-draining ancient alluvial soils.
Last week I posted a rather personal anecdote about Hahn’s Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is another from that same label, this one hailing from Doctor’s Vineyard—a vineyard I’ve become quite acquainted with in my tasting around the Santa Lucia Highlands. During my time at Hahn Family Winery, we dove deep into what differentiates their various vineyards. The Doctor’s Vineyard isn’t the highest nor the lowest elevated of the estate vineyards, but is right in the center of the SLH AVA. Thus, it receives a bit more sunlight than other portions. And wider vine row spacing (11 feet by 7 feet) means these Pinot Noir grapes get quite a bit of sun exposure after the morning Monterey fog blows off. So what exactly does that all taste like?
There’s been a lot going on and, yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I didn’t realize people would notice until, well, people started to notice. So thank you to those of you encouraging me to keep my private writing space up and running.
A lot has been changing over the last year. I’m now a full-time wine writer—so I am traveling, tasting, and writing a whole lot more. I’m busy constantly learning about all sectors of the wine industry, from the vineyard to the tasting room. I love it.
Please check out my updated About page. I’m also currently working on a page linking back to my professional work. For now, please Connect with me on LinkedIn where you can find current and past clips.
So, what exactly does all this personal stuff have to do with the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir?