“Life is but a sojourn. Enjoy the best of it.”
Proprietors Craig and Ellen Haserot and proprietor and winemaker Erich Bradley produce small lots of
handcrafted artisanal wines from exceptional vineyards throughout Sonoma and Napa counties. The pair met
on the tennis courts of Sonoma and formed Sojourn Cellars in 2001, releasing their first Pinot Noir in 2004.
The brand has been highly successful, earning considerable praise from the wine press (see “Sojourn Cellars:
Pull Up a Lawn Chair,” in the PinotFile, Volume 8, Issue 14, 2010). Today, they produce Pinot Noir,
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are largely sold on allocation to mailing list members and a
select group of restaurants and retailers.
Haserot is the exuberant one, the “face” of the winery, heading up sales and marketing (pictured below).
Bradley, more reserved but with a charming smile, studied winemaking at University of California at Davis and
Santa Rosa Junior College and was mentored by winemaker Dick Arrowood. He is also the owner and
winemaker of Audelssa Estate Winery in Glen Ellen, a small producer of Bordeaux and Rhone inspired wines,
where he has received well-deserved praise from Robert Parker (“Everything I have tasted has been
enormously impressive”). The Sojourn wines are also crafted at Audellssa.
Winemaking is minimalistic using whole berry native fermentations in small open-top fermenters, with hand
punch downs, basket pressing, and no pumping. The Pinot Noirs are unfined and unfiltered.
Personal tastings are available by appointment daily in downtown Sonoma at the Sojourn Cellars Tasting
Salon. Visit the website for further information and to sign up for the mailing list: www.sojourncellars.com.
2011 was a very challenging vintage for vintners and I know in talking to many of them that they struggled to
craft wines that were up to their usual standards. That makes all the following 2011 Sojourn Pinot Noirs all the
more impressive, for the lineup is exceedingly impressive across every bottling. The wines are relatively light in
weight, very approachable, with soft tannins and are surprisingly good. I have found few other wineries in
California that have been able to equal the quality of the 2011 vintage wines reviewed here. My hat goes off to
Erich and Craig. I wouldn’t want to play these guys in tennis, because they are a talented and determined pair.
2011 Sojourn Cellars Rodgers Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.60,
550 cases, $48. Released Spring 2013. Vineyard is high on a ridge in the heart of the Petaluma Gap. The
vines receive the full brunt of wind and fog that define this cool climate site. The light chalky volcanic ash soils
on steep inclines typically lead to vine stress and high levels of concentration. Pommard and 777 clones. 15%
whole cluster (Pommard), aged in 50% new French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass.
Aromas of dark red berries, black cherries, briar and a hint of spearmint. Light, even a bit thin, with tangy
flavors of red cherries, red raspberries and cola, supple tannins, and a good cut of acidity on the mildly shallow
finish. Very giving and easy to drink. Good (+).
2011 Sojourn Cellars Gap’s Crown Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.58, 800 cases,
$54. Released Spring 2013. This hillside vineyard is located on Roberts Road just above Sangiacomo
Vineyard. Clones are 828, 115 and 667. 10% whole cluster, aged in 50% new French oak barrels.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy but pleasing aromas of dark red cherries, raspberry jam, peat and wood
shed. A pretty wine with impressive roundness and polish, offering flavors of cherry pie glaze and mixed
berries, with oak-driven spicy layers in the background, and noticeable richness on the mid palate. Very good.
2011 Sojourn Cellars Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.56, 175
cases, $59. Release fall 2013. Inaugural vintage for this 30-acre vineyard farmed by Ulises Valdez that is
located in the Green Valley AVA north of Occidental and at the western edge of the Sonoma Coast. Pommard
clone, and Calera and Vosne-Romanee selections were sourced from a low-vigor section of the vineyard.
Aged in 50% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Frgrant with aromas
of red fruit, particularly cherry, and sandalwood. An elegant wine that is light on its feet with tasty flavors of
cherries, raspberries and cranberries accented with baking spice and oak. Forward, easy to drink, with plenty
of pinotosity, but not enough fruit singing. A little better when tasted later in the day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle. Good (+).
2011 Sojourn Cellars Ridgetop Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.55, 275 cases, $59. Release fall 2013. This
vineyard is owned and managed by Thomas Rivers Brown and Fred
Schrader and farmed by Ulises Valdez. Located in the remote coastal
mountains near Annapolis, it is surrounded by redwoods at 1100 feet
above the Pacific Ocean. Yields are minuscule with concentrated
flavors. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged in 50% new French oak
Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. The perfume draws you into
the glass with aromas of darker plum and berry with notes of balsam and salt
air. Delicious middleweight core of vibrant plum, black cherry, berry and cola
flavors clothed in soft, lacy tannins, finishing with a lingering memory of cherry liquor. Very smooth in the
mouth and discreetly sappy, this wine displays impeccable balance. Memorable.
2011 Sojourn Cellars Campbell Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.58, 175 cases,
$59. Release fall 2013. Ulises Valdez has taken over vineyard management of the property. Located in the
remote coastal mountains near Annapolis, it is surrounded by redwoods at about 750 foot elevation. Clones
115 and 777. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright
aromas of dark red cherries and berries as well as wooded forest. Very tasty and harmonious, with ripely
flavored blueberries, raspberries and cherries. Smoothly textured with soft, dry tannins and a generous finish.
Nothing out of place. Still pumping out the flavors nicely the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle. Very good.
2011 Sojourn Cellars Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.57, 975 cases, $48. Released February
2012. This vineyard is located at the western base of Sonoma Mountain
in the Petaluma Gap. Clones 115, 777 and small portions of Swan and
Pommard. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels.
Vibrant aromas of
fresh cherry pie glaze and baking spice with oak in the background.
Juicy and light on its feet, with flavors that echo the nose.Very smooth
and comforting, slipping off the palate at the end leaving an impression of
perfectly ripe black cherry fruit. A rather feminine wine that packs a wallop of
flavor. Still satisfying the following day from a previously opened and re-corked