The Estate Bartley Legend Exposed
Dale Bartley is a home winemaker of some repute in the town of San Rafael, California. He has
produced some notable Pinot Noirs from his estate’s garage where “the mix of concrete, no soil, and
high elevation exist to provide ideal conditions for garbage can winemaking.” Earlier this year, I put
out the call from PinotFile readers to submit their original features for publication. Dale’s piece, entitled
Pinot Noir Excalibur, The Stuff From Which Legends Grow,” humorously detailed his devotion to
Pinot Noir and his wine making adventures. I have met Dale and tasted his Pinot Noirs which are very
credible and I perceived him as a true pinotphile. Because his article was the best of all of those
submitted, I awarded him a treasured PinotFile baseball cap and a PinotFile t-shirt to proudly wear.
Imagine my vexation on a recent trip to Marin County when I discovered he was an imposter. A group
of us had gathered at winegrower Mark Pasternak’s ranch home to taste through most all of the current
releases of Pinot Noir from multiple producers in Marin County. The lineup included Dale’s 2005
Excalibur Pinot Noir. Unbeknownst to me, Dale was handing out The Estate Barley 2005 Armanino
Vineyard “Zinfromdale,” a Zinfandel he was aging in the trunk of his Acura. I only found out later that
he told my friends they could easily soak off the label so I wouldn’t know. A closet Zin maker! And
astonishingly, he was touting this wine as the best wine he had ever made. Sadly, he still has the
PinotFile cap and t-shirt and I have no legal grounds to recover them. If you should see this imposter at
a wine tasting event, do not listen to the wine b.s. he is likely to toss around.
I did sample his “Zinfromdale” and I must admit, it was the best Estate Bartley wine I have ever tasted.
I think Dale has a real future with Zin. You just never know about people these days.