Download &
print (pdf)


Goldeneye Winery dates to 1996 when Duckhorn Wine Company owners Dan and Margaret Duckhorn bought the former Obester Winery in the hamlet of Philo along Highway 128 in the Anderson Valley, and the following year planted the 57-acre Confluence Vineyard to Pinot Noir. With the subsequent acquisition of additional Anderson Valley vineyard properties, Goldeneye now farms four estate vineyards encompassing over 200 acres, second in Anderson Valley acreage only to the vast vineyard holdings of Roederer Estate.

Dan and Margaret Duckhorn had established a reputation for outstanding Bordeaux-varietal wines (particularly Merlot) from Napa Valley, but through the years developed a passion for Pinot Noir. They envisioned a winery devoted to Pinot Noir and found a suitable location in the Anderson Valley. The vineyards were to become among the first in California to receive sustainable certification and a Pinot-focused winery that was built became one of only three wineries in California to earn the LEED Gold environmental certification.

The name, Goldeneye, derives from a yellow-eyed waterfowl that occasionally calls Anderson Valley home since it lies on the bird’s migratory route.

The initial winemaker, Zach Rasmuson, established the winery’s reputation. Michael Fay took over the helm in 2012 and further refined the bold Goldeneye style by adding some native ferments, employing less saignée to accentuate the mouthfeel of the wines, and dialing back the percentage of new oak slightly. Michael left Goldeneye in 2016 for a winemaking post in the Central Coast, and was replaced by Michael Accurso who had worked alongside Michael as assistant winemaker since 2014. Accurso has continued to fine tune the winery’s style, tending to pick at lower Brix and further dialing back the amount of new French oak used during aging.

Winemaking at Goldeneye requires an astute organizational focus since nearly 250 individual lots of Pinot Noir are fermented each vintage. The Estate program consists of more than 24 clones of Pinot Noir planted to more than 96 individual vineyard blocks with 49 unique combinations of clones and rootstock material.

Here is a map and summary of the four estate vineyards:

The Narrows Vineyard (formerly Floodgate Vineyard and renamed after acquired by Goldeneye) This historic mountain vineyard is situated on a narrow ridge top at the northernmost end (“Deep End”) of the Anderson Valley. It is 10 miles inland from the Mendocino Coast and therefore is exposed to a strong marine influence producing summer fog and cool daytime temperatures. A challenging site to farm, due to its coolness and threat of frost. Yields are low

Split Rail Vineyard This vineyard is located on the bank of the Navarro River between Gowan Creek and The Narrows vineyards and possesses considerable diversity.

Gowan Creek Vineyard This vineyard is two miles north of Confluence Vineyard and is also the site of the Goldeneye winery. This site combines elements of the valley’s warmer regions and its cooler, northern climate. Planted to eight different clones of Pinot Noir tailored to a specific site and soil type.

Confluence Vineyard Established in 1996, this vineyard is located in the heart of the Anderson Valley adjacent the headwaters of the Navarro River. There are a range of soils and exposures.

The Goldeneye Pinot Noirs remain rich, lush, often savory and unique among the cadre of other Anderson Valley producers, attracting the respect of pinotphiles and collectors and bringing the Anderson Valley considerable recognition. The wines are relatively low in acidity that makes for a lush palate. The 2014 Goldeneye releases reviewed here were vinified by both Michaels working in tandem. All the wines were vinified with 100% estate fruit. I found the wines impressive for their rich fruit flavors and harmony. Expensive, yes, but well worth every penny. Great Pinot Noir never comes cheap.

2014 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.89, TA 0.51, 15,850 cases, $56. Harvest Brix 24.5º. 45% of blend from Gowan Creek Vineyard. Amazing quality considering the large production. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of black cherry, spice, and toasty oak. Black cherry and black raspberry flavors arrive in force with accents of anise and black tea. Forward drinking, with a healthy tannic backbone, a polished mouthfeel and some finishing generosity. A little more oak on hand than was evident with the single vineyard bottlings, but thoroughly enjoyable. Score: 90

2014 Goldeneye The Narrows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.91, TA 0.49, 390 cases, $84. This wine typically has a wild, rustic character. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 59% new, 41% neutral. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. I was infatuated with the nose that offered aromas of fresh cherry and cranberry fruit, rose petal, baking spice and vanilla. Generous flavors of cherry and raspberry arrived on the palate with a rush, expanding in the mouth, and finishing with purpose. This wine packs a lot of juicy fruit flavor in harmony with structured tannins and courtly oak support. Score: 92

2014 Goldeneye Split Rail Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.50, 350 cases, $84. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new and 40% neutral. Made from clones “828” and 777. Typically structured and savory. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Complex nose offering aromas of dark red berries, mushroom, mocha, and toast. Delicious attack of vivid dark red and black berry fruits along with hints of black tea, rose and spice. The oak barrel treatment is expressed as toast and bbq, and the tannins, most prominent among all the single vineyard offerings lead to a modest astringent message on the finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the tannins had softened indicating further time in the cellar will be beneficial. Cellaring will not only ameliorate the tannins but also further integrate the oak. Score: 92

2014 Goldeneye Gowan Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.55, 1,130 cases, $84. Harvest Brix 25º. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new, 40% neutral. This vineyard typically provides rich, lush fruit and a velvety texture. 60% clone “828,” provided voluptuous dark fruit flavors while clone 667 was added to balance the acidity and structure. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas of black fruits, sweet pipe smoke, oak spice, nuts and earth. Robust mid weight plus flavors of blackberry and boysenberry are deftly balanced by firm tannins. Rounded and polished with a luscious palate that is both creamy and replete with heaps of berry goodness. Impeccably balanced, this wine finishes long and sturdy. Flat-out delicious. Score: 94

2014 Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.49, 540 cases, $84. Grapes picked at a lower Brix and earlier than Gowan Creek, attempting to accentuate the brightness and red fruit character typical of this vineyard. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 16 months in medium toast French oak barrels, 57% new, 43% neutral. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. This wine offers a redder fruit profile with scents of cherry and strawberry on the nose. Less sappy, less tannic and more vibrant than the other 2014 Goldeneye Pinot Noirs, but still blessed with a succulent mid weight core of red berry and cherry fruits complimented with a riff of sandalwood-linked oak. Special in every way, with commendable harmony and length of finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, I was still seduced, and particularly impressed by the extraordinary finish that seemed to last indefinitely. Score: 96

2014 Goldeneye Ten Degrees Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.51, 1,175 cases, $120. This wine is made from the finest barrels of wine, the top 5% of estate Pinot Noir, blended for both power and elegance. Four estate vineyards. Aged 16 months in 100% new medium toast French oak barrels. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. This wine is quite reserved upon opening and only brought it when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Deep fruit aromas of ripe strawberry, blackberry and blueberry-pomegranate fruits paired with a compliment of toasty brioche. Polished, sophisticated and seductive on the palate with an array of opulent purple fruits backed by silky tannins. The fruit load is expansive in the mouth, and propels the long, long, long finish to a glorious climax. I have tasted several vintages of this special wine, and this one falls in line as far as taste, but it offers a little more vibrancy and juiciness than in the past. Best to cellar this wine for a couple of years, but if you must open it sooner, by all means decant. Score: 94

Print entire newsletter