California Old Vine Pinot Noir Vineyards: Sonoma/Napa Counties - H-L
“We consumers should support wines made from old vines as a
means of protecting the genetic material the plants harbor
ensuring these sites remain vineyards well into the future”
Joe Czerwinski, wine journalist
Location: Coombsville, Napa Valley
Owner: Pat Haynes
Initial planting: 1966, 1967, 1968
Acres: 3.5 (old vines)
Scion: Martini clone from Three Palms Vineyard cuttings
Producers from this vineyard: Ancien, Tulocay
Pat and Duncan Haynes founded Haynes Vineyard in 1967 on a 43-acre parcel that had been in the
Haynes family since the late 1800s. The original plantings of Wente clone Chardonnay and Martini
clone Pinot Noir were established with the assistance of Louis Martini, Sr. The first Pinot Noir
plantings were cuttings from the Three Palms Vineyard in Calistoga first brought there from Burgundy
by Louis Martini, Sr. Few people know that Pinot Noir was planted at Three Palms Vineyard in its
3.5 acres of the old vines are still healthy and in production today. There have been some vine
removal and interplanting through the years but the old vines predominate. Syrah has been added.
Fernando Delgado has farmed and lived on the property since 1971 and is responsible for the
longevity of the original plantings. He prunes each vine individually according to its strength and
potential, choosing which canes to keep and how many canes and shoots that each vine will grow.
The vineyard is located in a cool part of the Coombsville AVA, east of the city of Napa. The site has
the mildest growing season of any in the Napa Valley, being open to the morning fog and afternoon
breezes from San Pablo Bay that also cool Carneros to the west. The rocky, volcanic soil is known as
Coombsville gravelly loam and is both well-draining and rich in minerals, ideal for producing
noteworthy and age-worthy Pinot Noir.
The Haynes had their own winery, Whitford Cellars, and Andre Tchelistcheff produced the Pinot Noir
from the Haynes Vineyard in the early 1990s. Ken Bernards of Ancien Wines took over as winemaker
in 1997 and when the Haynes family closed Whitford Cellars, Ken made his Ancien wines in the
winery for several years. The Ancien website and wine notes state that the original Haynes Vineyard
Pinot Noir was planted in 1966.
Tulocay Winery has made Pinot Noir from the original old vine plantings at Haynes Vineyard
continuously since 1975. Bill Cadman, owner and winemaker at Tulocay, says that the original Pinot
Noir was planted in 1968 and, “although a rarity in the Napa Valley, consistently produces wines of
great elegance and finesse.” His daughter, Brie, is currently the winemaker at Tulocay, and her quote
about the Haynes Vineyard mimics her father: “The Pinot Noirs produced by the old vines at Haynes
are elegant and finessed, not in-your-face Pinot Noir, but rather a more balanced, nuanced wine.
They are usually rich in rose petal and orange zest in their youth and continue on to earth, black tea
and cedar as they age.”
Ancien Wines has bottled a Haynes Vineyard Old Block Pinot Noir since 2012. Kitson bottled a 2016
Haynes Vineyard Pinot Noir using Swan and Dijon 115 grapes that had been planted at the vineyard
The Tulocay Winery old vines Haynes Vineyard Pinot Noir is available at www.tulocay.com, and the
Ancien old vines Haynes Vineyard Old Block Pinot Noir is sold on the website at
As a side note, Heitz Cellars owner, agriculture magnate Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., is launching a new
winery focused on small-lot Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from a 32-acre Coombsville property
he purchased in 2019. The winemaker is Nico Cueva, the head winemaker since 2015 at Kosta
Browne. The first vintage will be 2020.
2016 Tulocay Haynes Vineyard Napa Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.62, RS <1 g/l, 137 cases, $40.
42nd consecutive year Bill Cadman has purchased old
vine Pinot Noir from Haynes Vineyard. Harvest Brix 24.4º.
Double Gold California State Fair. Winemaker Brie
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is
well-perfumed with aromas of red cherry, cardamom spice
and a hint of toasty oak. Very suave and easily drinkable in
a middleweight style, featuring a delicious core of black
cherry and raspberry fruit backed by reserved tannins.
This wine seduces rather than attacks the palate.The
barrel treatment is spot on and the finish is impressively
long and vivid. Still superb when tasted the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2017 Ancien Coombsville - Haynes Old Block Napa Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc.,61 cases, $68. Sourced
from the most flavorful and healthiest old vines from the
original planting. No smoke damage in this vintage. An
encomium to Duncan Haynes.
Moderate garnet color in
the glass. A knockout from the get-go. Large-scale aromas
of black cherry, rose petal, ground savoury spice and wine
cave persist over time in the glass. Very comforting in the
mouth in a mid-weight style, featuring an unctuous core of
cherry fruit accented with a touch of spice and
complimentary barrel presence. Softly textured, with
polished tannins, welcome acidity and good length on the
Location: Bohan Dillon Road in Cazadero in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA
Owner: Gard and Lori Hellenthal
Initial planting: late 1970s-1980
Scion: Calera clone
Producer from this vineyard: Ceritas (Old Shop Block)
In the late 1970s, Gard Hellenthal and David Hirsch began looking for vineyards in the hills facing the
Pacific Ocean in northern Cazadero. Gard secured his land just east of Hirsch Vineyards and planted
the original vines at Hellenthal Vineyard. The site is only five miles inland from the Pacific Ocean at an
elevation of 1,053 feet. There were two plantings. The oldest and original planting is referred to as the
“Old Shop Block” and it is exclusively sourced by Ceritas Wines. The own-rooted Calera clone vines
in the Old Shop Block are dry-farmed and planted in fractured and decomposed sandstone soils.
The Elliott Block was first planted later in 1981. There is Pommard and Dijon clone 777 interplanted,
but I am not certain if in one or both blocks but I believe is the Elliott Block.
Grapes have been sourced by WesMar Winery, W.H. Smith, Radio-Coteau and MacRostie Winery &
Vineyards. The 2018 Ceritas Old Shop Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir has been released. Visit
A map of the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA showing the location of Hellenthal Vineyard and other vineyards
featured in this article.
2014 Ceritas Old Shop Block Hellenthal Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $72.
grape variety can give you a nose like this one. Soaring
aromas of black cherry, sous-bois, spice and toast. Very
silky on entry with perfectly ripened flavors of dark cherry
and raspberry with just a hint of dried herbs. Beautifully
balanced with pliant tannins and bright acidity, and a,
taunting, orgasmic finish that goes on and on. This wine
has all the things you look for in a Pinot Noir.
2016 WesMar Hellenthal Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., $55. Sourced from the
Elliott Block planted in 1981.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry and rose
petal lead to a discreetly concentrated wine featuring riveting flavors of black cherry, kirsch and spice.
The satiny mouthfeel is highly seductive and the gracious tannins make for easy access. The wine's
harmony and vigor impress as does the waves of fruit echoing on the glorious finish. This wine takes
time to reveal itself. A truly invigorating wine from a great vintage.
Olivet Lane Estate Vineyard
Location: West Olivet Road in the Russian River Valley
Owner: Robert Pellegrini
Initial planting: 1975
Scion: Martini clone
Producers from this vineyard: Olivet Lane Estate, Merry Edwards, Williams Selyem
In 1983, Vincent Pellegrini and his spouse Ida purchased a 65-acre plum and olive orchard in the
Russian River Valley for the purpose of establishing a vineyard. The site is located on Olivet Lane
Road between River Road and Guerneville Road just east of the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the heart
of the Russian River Valley AVA. in Santa Rosa. This sub-region of the Russian River Valley is now
known as the Santa Rosa Plain. Vincent’s son, Robert, was fresh out of school and had just returned
from a tour of Burgundy when he had the idea to plant Pinot Noir on the property. They planted 20.1
acres of a Martini clone of Pinot Noir and 38 acres of a Wente clone Chardonnay on AxR1 rootstock.
By the late 1970s, Robert had bottled an “Olivet Lane” Chardonnay, named for the 120 olive trees that
line the vineyard's east entrance and the name stuck. Chardonnay was planted along with the Pinot
Noir since it was in much more demand than Pinot Noir at the time. An Olivet Lane Pinot Noir was
released for the first time in the 1980s. The vineyard was to be one of the first in the Russian River
Valley devoted to both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The soil is well-drained, gravelly clay loam. Vine spacing is 8’ x 12’ and vines are cane pruned on a
VSP trellis. Fog frequently covers the site from evening through the early morning. Recent photos of
the 45-year-old Martini clone Pinot Noir vines follow.
Martini 1975 Olivet Lane Estate Own Rooted Pinot Noir Vines
Martini 1975 Olivet Lane Estate Own Rooted Pinot Noir Vine Near Harvest
Alexia Pellegrini, Robert’s daughter and fourth generation vintner, is the General Manager of
Pellegrini-Olivet Lane. She told m recently that the original 20-acre Pinot Noir vineyard block is intact.
There have been single vine-by-vine replants in 2019 to fill in the gaps, but these vines are too young
to produce useful grapes. Farming practices have been altered in the old block to preserve the root
structure including training up renewal spurs on the vines that have trunk congestion. A new 12-acre
block of Pinot Noir was planted on the west side of the property and the first minor crop should be
harvested in 2020. These grapes will be used for the winery’s estate sparkling, rosé and nouveau
Merry Edwards has produced an Olivet Lane Vineyard designated Pinot Noir since 1997 and several
other notable wineries have made distinguished wines from this vineyard including Williams Selyem,
WesMar Winery, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, Brogan Cellars, Kosta Browne and Paul Hobbs.
The Olivet Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir wines are sold on the winery’s website at
2016 Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.31, TA 0.72, $65. 5-day cold soak,
14-day fermentation in open-top fermenters, and aged 14
months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black
cherry, blackberry, spice and a hint of espresso. A
quintessential Martini clone Pinot Noir featuring mid-weight
flavors of dark Bing cherry, blackberry, cola and loads of
spice. The intensity of the fruit makes quite an impression
and the polished tannins make for easy drinking. The
lengthy finish is awash in vibrant fruit with just a hint of oak
tailing off at the end.
2018 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $78.
garnet color in the glass. Aromas of beef bouillon,
chamomile tea, and cardamom spice. Mid-weight flavors
of black cherry, blackberry and chamomile tea leaves.
Nicely balanced with gracious tannins and a long,
quenching finish. Rather exotic and unique. I have never
encountered the aroma or taste of chamomile in a Pinot
Noir prior to this. Pinot Noir always provides surprises.
Porter Creek Hillside Vineyard
Location: Westside Road in Healdsburg adjacent the MacMurray Ranch
Owner: Alex Davis
Initial planting: 1974
Scion: Martini 13
Producer from this vineyard: Porter Creek Vineyards
The Hillside Vineyard was planted to Martini clone on St. George rootstock in 1974. Many of the
original vines have been in continuous production making it one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in
the Russian River Valley. Revitalization efforts have been ongoing with vine-by-vine interplanting and
soil improvement. The vineyard was certified organic and Biodynamic in 2003.
Founder George R. Davis purchased the 34-acre ranch in 1979. The property had young Pinot Noir
vines that would become the Hillside Vineyard. A self-taught winemaker, George improved the
existing vineyards and planted additional acreage. He converted a barn on the property to wine
production in 1982 and began producing his own wines under the Porter Creek label. His son, Alex,
studied winemaking and worked multiple vintages in Burgundy, and is currently the winemaker and
John Haeger, author of Pacific Pinot Noir (2008), who knows a thing or two about Pinot Noir, said in
that book, “Porter Creek is making, bar none, some of the most stunning Pinots in California.” Alex
notes that many of the past bottlings of Hillside Vineyard Pinot Noir are still drinking well with 20 years
or so of age on them. Porter Creek wines are sold through the winery’s website store at
www.portercreekvineyards.com. Tasting is by appointment.
2016 Porter Creek Hillside Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $72.
Moderate garnet color
in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of Bing cherry, baking
spice and red rose petal. A delicious infusion of dark cherry
goodness with a hint of cola greets the palate. Impeccable
harmony with very fine-grain tannins and a welcome nerve
of acidity. Mid-weight in richness, endlessly gentle, with a
refreshing finish that leaves you wanting more. The wine
holds up beautifully over time in the glass predicting age-worthiness.
Porter Creek is one of the most under-the-radar
producers of ultra premium Pinot Noir in California.
Precious Mountain Vineyard
Location: West Sonoma Coast near Fort Ross
Owner: Donnie and Linden Schatzberg
Initial planting: 1973
Scion: Various heritage selections
The Schatzbergs homesteaded 40 acres of a former sheep ranch on a ridge top at 1,530 feet
elevation in 1970. They have planted grapevines, a few at a time, since 1970. The original dry farmed
Pinot Noir consists of various clones and selections grafted onto Gewürztraminer roots. Since 1996
Pommard clone has been planted exclusively.
Precious Mountain has had a partnership with Williams Selyem since 1996 when a chance phone call
to Burt Williams created a single contract to sell nearly all grapes to the winery over the following
harvests. The 2017 Williams Selyem Precious Mountain Pinot Noir ($105) is sold through a
mailing list at www.williamsselyem.com. I have reviewed many Williams Selyem wines through the
years but have not sampled the Precious Mountain Vineyard bottling since the 2007 vintage.
Precious Mountain Vineyard
Quail Hill Vineyard Block 2
Location: Sebastopol, Russian River Valley
Owner: Lynmar Estate
Initial planting: 1974
Scion: Swan selection
Quail Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir was first planted in 1974 according to Tom Dehlinger who assisted in
the acquisition of the cuttings. These vines in Block 2 are some of the first established in the Russian
River Valley with budwood from Joe Swan and Block 2 is the only remaining block of Pinot Noir from
the original Quail Hill plantings. The original Swan vines are on St. George rootstock. A phased
replanting involving 71% of the Quail Hill Vineyard was undertaken in 1996, but the 2 acres of Swan
selection Pinot Noir dating to 1974 was retained. An additional 1.2 acres of Swan selection was
planted in 1997 as Block 12 using budwood sourced directly from the original vines.
The grapes from these original vines were sold to Tony Soter at Etude and Merry Edwards until
Lynmar began making its own wine in the early 1990s. The Swan selection grapes were blended into
Lynmar’s Quail Hill Cuvée and Quail Hill Vineyard wines until 2009 when a separate Old Vines Pinot
Noir was bottled. The Swan selection old vines of Block 2 are located at the top of the hill above the
winery and Block 12 is just below the winery in the following photo of the Quail Hill Vineyard.
Quail Hill Vineyard and Lynmar Estate Winery
The original Pinot Noir vines in Block 2 now go exclusively into the Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard
Old Vines bottling. The Pinot Noir grapes planted in 1997 in Block 12 go into the Lynmar Estate
Quail Hill Vineyard cuvée.
My last review of an Old Vines bottling was from the 2016 vintage in November 2018 and most
recently the 2017 vintage in August 2020. The 2014 vintage was given a score of 95. The Quail Hill
Vineyard Old Vines Pinot Noir is allocated to Advocate Club wine club members. Visit
On a number of occasions when I have barrel tasted at Lynmar Estate, the Old Vines Pinot Noir from
Block 2 is always my favorite wine in the cellar.
2016 Lynmar Estate Old Vines Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.57, TA 0.60, 251 cases, $80. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 64% new.
Dark garnet color
in the glass. Gorgeous aromas of black cherry, ripe strawberry and balsam. The wine floods the
mouth with carnal energy, featuring flavors of black cherry and black raspberry. There is
commendable harmony with both pleasing tannic power and uplifting acidity. There is only a dusting
of oak. I sense that this wine needs a few years in the cellar to reveal all of its charms.
2017 Lynmar Estate Old Vines Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $80.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Charming aromas of
cherry, rose petal and baking spices. I love the floral
aspect of the nose, like wild cherry sprinkled with flowers.
Mid-weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry,
blackberry and dark chocolate address the palate without
overreaching.The mouthfeel is luxurious, the tannins are in
line and the finish is long and rewarding. Still exceptional
when tasted the following day from a previously opened
bottle. An old vine treasure.