Father John Wines: French-Inspired Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Sonoma County native Nicholas Maloney launched Father John Wines in 2010 during his stay in France with a
Pinot Noir from Oehlman Vineyard on Vine Hill Road in Sebastopol. The name, Father John, is a dedication to
the late Reverend, John Weaver, a renowned Episcopal priest and Nicholas’ grandfather.
Nicholas has an impressive winemaking resume, having graduated from the world-renown Lycée Viticole in
Burgundy and worked in Haute Svoie, Margaux, Maison Ilan in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Domaine Rollin in
Pernand-Verglesses. Nicholas’ wines are one of the few American Pinot Noirs to be found on restaurant lists in
Burgundy and his wines are especially popular with the Swiss, Belgians, Danish and English. European
exports make up a significant amount of total sales.
Nicholas has planted a vineyard on his family’s apple ranch located just outside the city limits of Sebastopol.
The first estate-grown Pinot Noir from this site has been bottled and will be a cult wine demanding $395 a
Nicholas has been particularly attracted to the potential of Northern Mendocino County, specifically the town of
Comptche. He truly believes Comptche to be one of California’s next top Pinot Noir regions. Located north of
the Anderson Valley, Comptche is the only California appellation that is planted solely to Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay (only 1.5 acres of Chardonnay) and there are several vineyards in this region. Nicholas believes
his Comptche wines rival or surpass Chambertin wines.
Nicholas’ Pinot Noir wines are all 100% whole-cluster fermented with Indigenous yeasts but he typically
inoculates for malolactic fermentation. A small amount of new French oak is used for aging (the Old Vines
bottling reviewed below saw no new oak). The wines are never filtered. There are also a few techniques
instrumental to the house style that no other producer in the world utilizes but Nicholas prefers to keep those
The limited production wines are sold through a mailing list at www.fatherjohnwinery.com. There is currently
a waitlist for the Chablis (3 years) and the Vine Hill Road Pinot Noir (1 year). The Vielles Vignes (Old Vine)
Pinot Noir will be available for purchase on the website soon.
2018 Father John Vau de Vey 1er Cru Chablis
12.5% alc., $85.
Light golden yellow color in the glass.
Complex nose presenting with aromas of yellow apple, petrichor, kelp, and straw. Bright and clean on the
palate and slightly viscous in texture, with the flavors of pear and salty apple along with a stony grip. Some
length on the finish and thoroughly enjoyable. Representative of the Chablis genre from well-known producers
in the $100+ price range.
2015 Father John Vielles Vignes Mendocino County Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $68. Sourced from a vineyard
located in the Redwood Valley bench planted in the 1960s to Martini clone. Nicholas notes, “The British,
including Jancis Robinson, absolutely love this wine,” and it is sold out. 100% whole cluster fermented, aged in
neutral French oak barrels.
Light garnet color in the glass. The nose is whole-cluster-inspired with aromas of
pie cherry, sap, burnt tobacco and sous-bois. Lighter in weight but fully satisfying with flavors of cherry, red
berry and sarsaparilla framed by very fine-grain tannins and crisp acidity. An intriguing connoisseur’s wine that
is beginning to take on some aged (tertiary) character.
2017 Father John Vine Hill Road Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $75. Primarily Pommard clone planted in
Goldridge sandy loam soil. 100% whole cluster fermented.
Representative of the Chablis genre from well-known producers
in the $100+ price range.
Very light ruby red color in the glass.
Aromas of cherry, cranberry, burnt tobacco and sap. Mid-weight
in style with a toothsome core of Bing cherry, dried herbs and a
hint of stone fruits. Although on the delicate side, the wine
delivers more flavor intensity than the very light color would
predict. Soothing in texture with bright acidity and gossamer
tannins but slightly shallow at the finish. More Russian River
Valley fruit exuberance than the older Mendocino County