Chalone Vineyard

Owner(s) Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines
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Chalone Vineyard is an historic property founded by Dick Graff who made many benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from this remote location perched at 1,800 feet above the Salinas Valley in the Gavilan Mountain Range. Like Josh Jensen at Calera, Graff sought out a site that had limestone-based soils. His first vintage under the Chalone Vineyard label was in 1966. Today, Chalone Vineyard Estate is the oldest producing vineyard in Monterey County. The vineyard's name is from an indigenous Costanoan Native American tribe, the Chalone, or Chollen. For the full story on Chalone Vineyard, consult the book, Chalone: A Journey on the Wine Frontier, written by Gregory S. Walter and W. Phillip Woodward.

As a shareholder of Chalone Vineyard stock during the 1980s and 1990s, I enjoyed many marvelous Reserve Pinot Noirs from this source. The annual shareholder's parties were legendary.

In 1998 an extensive renovation of the vineyard was undertaken. Today there are almost 1,000 acres, of which 310 acres are planted to vines. It is the only winery in the Chalone appellation.

Robert Cook joined Chalone in 2007 as senior winemaker. He crafts an estate Pinot Noir from the Chalone Vineyard as well as a second bottling sourced from other Monterey vineyards. A Heritage Pinot Noir is only sold in the tasting room.

Tasting is by appointment only during the week; the tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Call for directions if you plan to visit at 831-678-2742. Picnic area is available.

Reviewed Wines

2007 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $15. · Attractive cherry and raspberry scents veering toward raisin. More redder fruited than many wines in this lineup featuring summer strawberries and raspberries with a touch of tutti-fruity and sassafras. Flavors are on the ripe side. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Monterey County Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 1,065 cases, $21.50. From estate vineyards in the Gavilan Mountain Range in Monterey County (Chalone AVA). Well-drained soils rich in limestone, with limited rainfall and low crop levels. · Hi-toned mineral-inflected cherries on the nose. Deftly oaked redder fruits in the mouth with well-defined raspberry notes and a hint of raisin. Nice richness on the palate and quite satisfying. This wine is a steal considering the respected heritage of this winery. Chalone also has a Monterey County bottling (Chalone Monterey) priced at about $12, but it is not totally from estate fruit. I did not sample it. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »

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