Pisoni Vineyards & Winery

Owner(s) Pisoni Family
Web site www.pisonivineyards.com
 
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Pisoni Vineyards & Winery

Winegrower Gary Pisoni comes from generations of farmers who tended row crops long before he was born. His parents, Swiss-Italian immigrants, Eddie and Jane Pison, began farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley in 1952.

Pisoni enjoyed drinking and collecting fine French wines while in college. When he graduated, he was eager to find a way into the wine business. When he told his father he wanted to plant grapevines on the family cattle ranch in the Santa Lucia Highlands, he was met with several objections, not the least of which was the cost. Gary countered to his father, “Have you ever been to a $250 lettuce tasting?” His father relented and a legendary vineyard was born in 1982. Gary’s positive energy has made him a household name and a passionate pioneer among Pinot circles.

Gary planted his first 5 acres of own-rooted vines in virgin soil at 1,300 foot elevation. It took ten years of witchers and well drillers to tap into a water source on the sixth try. Water turned the wilderness into a garden and made Gary’s dream come true. The original vines are rumored to be from suitcase cuttings from a famous domaine in Vosne-Romanee, now called the Pisoni clone or selection.

Winemaker son Jeff and grape grower son Mark created the Pisoni label, releasing the first estate Pinot Noir in 1998. A second label, Lucia, debuted in 2000. Pisoni fruit quickly became highly prized in California and Pisoni Vineyard put Santa Lucia Highlands on the map, becoming one of California’s true ‘cult’ vineyards. Many top producers craft a Pisoni vineyard-designate Pinot Noir (Arcadian, Capiaux, Morgan, Patz & Hall, Peter Michael, Siduri, Tantara, Testarossa). Gary Pisoni also manages nearby Garys’ Vineyard with Gary Franscioni.

The Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir is sold exclusively through a mailing list. The Lucia wines are made in larger quantities and are sold through a mailing list offering and retail distribution (see Lucia in Winery Directory).

To coinicide with the 30th anniversary of Pisoni Vineyards, a Pisoni Estate Chardonnay was offered with the 2010 vintage. Chardonnay was initially planted at Pisoni Vineyards in 1982, but the fruit has gone into Lucia Chardonnay. The Pisoni Chardonnay comes from some original 30-year-old vines and some from blocks planted in 1999. Only 100 cases produced.

Reviewed Wines

2014 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 780 cases, $80. Released September 2016. 24% whole cluster. Aged 11 months in selective French oak barrels, 61% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · “Early bud break from warmer winter. Fruit dropping required due to high potential yields. Harvest was early, but total days of fruit development was still long, with the growing season more ‘shifted’ from the early bud break as opposed to the season being ‘cut short’ by warm weather late in the season.” Moderate dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of black raspberry juice, Bing cherry, vanillin and pain grille. The mid weight core of gorgeous black cherry and black raspberry fruits arrive with notice, expanding in the mouth and finishing with remarkable length. The wine seems crisper and less concentrated in this vintage, to the better, with a compliment of toasty oak in the background. The tannic structure holds the fruit in check, and the texture is appealingly silky. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still captivating and quite approachable. A reference wine for Pisoni Vineyard. Drink 2018-2028. Score: 95. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2013 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.. · “The influence of warm winters and drought began to show. Ideal spring weather led to good fruit set. High potential yields required additional fruit thinning. The vines were more stressed, producing dense, but mature tannins.” Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy initially, but extremely inviting over time in the glass. Aromas of black grapes, blackberries and spice with cigar oak in the background. Intense on the attack, expansive in the mouth, with a luscious expression of blackberry and cassis flavors. Concentrated and bold, yet offering admirable balance of acidity and tannin. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the tannins were more imposing indicating the wine needs more time in the cellar to integrate the tannins and allow the fruit to fully rouse itself. Drink 2018-2026. Score: 93. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2013 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $75 (sold out). A blend of barrels and different vineyard blocks from the estate property.Each block vinified separately in small lots using native yeast fermentation, hand punch downs, no fining and no filtering. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry reduction, cassis and baking spices gain intensity in the glass over time. A bit reticent upon opening, but picks up body and appeal with swirling. The mid weight purple and black fruits really glam onto the palate, finishing with uncommon generosity. The wine offers a little less extraction in this vintage, but more juicy acidity. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had undergone a remarkable transformation, offering a plethora of richly flavored fruit on the nose and palate held in check by a firm, balanced structure, and offering a glorious finish that had become even more generous. I would put this wine in the cellar and check it again in 3 to 5 years, but it will most certainly last well over a decade and a half. Score: 93-94. Reviewed December 12, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.. · “A very moderate growing season with few weather challenges.” Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas arrive slowly over time in the glass, revealing an array of black fruit goodness. Full-bodied, with a perfectly ripened core of blackberry, boysenberry, black tea and oak spice flavors in dancing in harmony. Tannins are evident but not intrusive, the texture is seamless, and the fruit-filled finish is remarkably long and intense. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had maintained its excellence indicating a long life ahead. Drink now to 2026. Score: 95. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2012 Pisoni Estate Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2%, $75. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas leap from the glass including blackberry, cardamom spice and oak vanillin. Juicy and full-bodied, but not jammy, with a gorgeous fruit core of blackberries, boysenberries and plums framed by generous, but balanced tannins. Some earth-based goodness chimes in as well. The fruit clings to every nook and cranny and refuses to go away, displaying a sweet, tenacious finish of uncommon length. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very approachable now, but has the stuff to last 20 years. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I tasted this beauty. Score: 98. Reviewed January 23, 2015 ARTICLE »

2011 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · “Similar start to the growing season as in 2010. The second half of the growing season brought moisture and an even later harvest. A very challenging vintage that required extremely slo and patient vineyard work. Many passes were required through the vineyard with small scissors clipping out botrytis on a berry-by-berry basis. The preceding winter was also very wet which necessitated extensive canopy work.” Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with appealing scents of spiced plum, black raspberry and hazelnut. Very easy going with impeccable balance, offering mid weight flavors of blueberry and black raspberry, robed in relatively tame tannins and supported by complimentary oak in the background. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromatic explosion persisted and the wine offered remarkable pleasure. Drink now to 2022. Score: 93. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2011 Pisoni Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $70. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Complex nose exhibiting an array of aromas including blackberries, spice, leather Prada coat, cigar box and smoky oak. Very approachable with modest tannins in this vintage offering well-endowed but not imposing flavors of black stone and berry fruits, with touches of spice, exotic dark chocolate, tobacco and oak. The fruit is simply gorgeous and perfectly ripened, and the pleasing finish is very generous. Still young and showing a shadow of oak which should integrate over time. A California treasure that is truly unique. Score: 93. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · “The first half of the growing season was cold and late. There was concern about reaching enough degree days for ripening, but hot weather appeared in July and August bringing harvest in early.” Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas appeared slowly over time in the glass with swirling, offering notes of dark cherry liquor, nutty oak, spice and mocha (primarily oak-driven aromas). More integrated on the mid weight palate, with flavors of muddled black cherry and brown spices. Silky, with very modest tannins and some finishing power. The lightest in weight of the wines tasted in this vertical. Easy to drink now, but with too much oak overlay for full enjoyment. Drink now to 2020. Score: 89. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2010 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 580 cases, $55. Unfiltered. · Deep, dark purple color in the glass. Scent of dark berry preserves with a complimentary hint of smoky oak and vanillin. Delicious core of vibrant blackberry and black plum flavors with undertones of smoke, tar, vanilla, and earth. Full-bodied with masculine tannins, yet soft and quite approachable now. Offers grip, breed and length. A man’s Pinot that never disappoints and one of California’s most cherished iconic wines year in and year out. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

14.2% alc., $65. Unfiltered. · Light straw color with a faint haze in the glass. Lovely aromas of pear, lemon and lychee. Dry with spritely acidity, featuring flavors of lemon, baked pear, lychee, brown butter and dark caramel. Appealing restraint. Very good. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

14.2% alc., $65. Barrel fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Intriguing, many-faceted nose offering aromas of golden apple, creme brulee, green leaf and briny minerality. Full-flavored, even striking, with an array of lemon, golden apple, baked pear, golden toast and oak vanillin flavors. The plush mouth feel is very flattering and the lemon-infused, oak blessed finish has uncommon persistence for a Chardonnay. You will need your big boy pants on to handle this one. Score: 92. Reviewed May 15, 2014 ARTICLE »

2009 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.. · “A cool year with an exceptionally long growing season leading to very dense wine. Tannins were the highest among the 2004 to 2014 vintages.” Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, blackberry jam and earthy flora lead to a dramatic onslaught of black cherry and blackberry fruit flavor. Very sleek on the palate, with corralled tannins, a touch of spice, and a juicy, fruit-driven finish of impressive length. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit had faded a bit on the nose, replaced by aromas of nutty oak and earthy flora. The fruit load sustained on the palate with balanced tannins. Drink now to 2024. Score: 92. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2008 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.. · “A very wet spring led to poor set and reduced yields along with considerable millerandage. The wine had more fine and supple tannins (less seed occurrences of millerandage). The season turned warm in August leading to an earlier harvest.” Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opened nicely over time in the glass, revealing aromas of black cherry, black tea and herbs. Full-bodied, with a very ripe core of plump blackberry and cassis flavors framed by substantial tannins. Earthy, primal, smoky, and herbal with a touch of iron and oak in the background. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had mellowed, offering more expressive black cherry fruit aromas and a soothing texture. Drink now to 2024. Score: 90. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2008 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $60. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of dark plums, boysenberries, and sassafras with some nuanced floral and spice elements dancing in and out. Righteous juice that charms with its perfectly ripe, sappy dark fruit flavors and soft, silky mouth feel. Seamless with unbelievable persistence on the superbly intense finish. Descriptors cannot do this wine justice. One of the greatest California Pinot Noirs I have ever had the good fortune to drink. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc.. · “Cool season and average yields. A harmonious vintage.” Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding, but pleasant aromas of slightly roasted blackberry fruit along with notes of oak vanillin, and tar. Full-bodied, with an attacking and expanding core of very ripe, even prune-flavored fruit on the palate. Noticeable oak contribution, with a slight sense of heat on the modest finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was unchanged, offering roasted fruit flavors including prune backed by modest tannins. Drink now to 2020. Score: 87. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2007 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $60. · Hi-tone scents of plums and dark berries with overtones of cigar box and cola. Luscious and rich, almost syrupy, decadent and dark Pinot fruits. Packed and stacked and not for wimps. A big wine with a big heart that will stoke Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir fans. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.. · "A cool year with very high yields. A lot of fruit was removed to reduce the vines’ tendency for high yields. Tannins were firm and hard and the wines took considerable time to fill out after bottling.” Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Upon opening, the aromas of black cherry, plum pudding and spice were quite appealing. The mid weight plus core of black cherry and blackberry fruit flavors were charming yet confronted by substantial tannins. Not overly sweet, with some length on the astringent finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit had faded on the nose, the tannins had moderated some but still overwhelmed the fruit. Drink now to 2020, but will always be a tannic wine. Score: 89. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2006 Pisoni Estate Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $65. · Very attractive aromas of dark stone fruits and black raspberries. Earth-kissed dark Pinot fruits with a grilled meat tone offer an unmistakable sense of terroir. Ample acidity, moderate dry tannins and a very smooth and harmonious mouth feel. Still somewhat subdued and demure, this impressive wine will benefit from more cellaring. Score: 93. Reviewed October 3, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · A cold year with a late harvest. Average crop levels and very slow development, but harmonious wines.” Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant scent of black fruits, potpourri and vanilla. Rugged and unyielding on the mid plus weighted palate, becoming somewhat more giving and softer over time in the glass, yet still displaying noticeable tannin. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, oak dominated the fruit on the nose and palate. Much more enjoyable upon opening than when tasted the following day. Drink up. Score: 88. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2005 Pisoni Estate Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $65. The grapes for the estate Pinot Noir come from the own-rooted Elias Block portion of the vineyard where yields are very small. Annual production is around 600 cases. · The darkest wine in the lineup. Terrific aromatics emerge over time with the wine showing off perfectly ripe black cherries, cranberries, and smoke. Peppery and earth-kissed dark red fruits cascade over the palate with refined but noticeable tannins leading to a dry finish. Delivers a bolt of fruit flavor. Reviewed August 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Pisoni Estate Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $65. · Very dense reddish-purple color. Initially the nose is brooding but with coaxing some attractive scents of black fruits, exotic spice, anise, earth and toast emerge. A huge wine of immense fruit structure with healthy tannins to match. Flavors of blackberries, black raspberries, and rare beef. This wine assaults you with fruit but retains a harmonious appeal. Will stand up to any robust fare including a big hunk of game or beef. For Pinot Noir hedonists only. Score: 90. Reviewed October 3, 2009 ARTICLE »

2004 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc.. · “A warm vintage but many blocks were harvested before the heat waves. The wine had great acid levels and concentration.” Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Upon opening, the wine offered a profusion of delightful aromas including blackberry, cassis, spice, vanilla and violet. However, the following day, the aromatic profile became much less charming, dominated by aromas of prune and very ripe fruit. On the palate, the mid plus core of black raspberry and blackberry fruit was concentrated and lush with a matching firm structure that was not imposing. The fruit was very ripe (surmaturité) and somewhat sweet and complimented by subtle spice and oak notes. The fruit seemed a bit tired when tasted the following day and the finish was slightly bitter. Drink up. Score: 89. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2004 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $65. · Dark reddish-purple in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, dark berries and oak char. Full-bodied compote of red and black fruits with very impressive purity and harmony of fruit. The tannins have melded leading to a very smooth mouth feel, and the persistent finish has a refreshing spark of grapefruit peel. A fruit magnet that could last a few more years, but no reason to wait. Very typical of the Pisoni estate bottling which always beautifully reflects its terroir. Very good. Reviewed February 15, 2010 ARTICLE »

2003 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $65. · Deeply colored. Aromas of dark berries, cigar box and anise veering to very ripe fruit scents. Generous core of ripe berry and plum fruit with a slightly grilled and raisiny taste. Highly structured with integrated soft tannins and decent length on the finish. A ripe, full-bodied wine with some appealing secondary characteristics. Liken this one to an aged Shaq at his best. Very good (-). Reviewed February 15, 2010 ARTICLE »



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