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Pinot Briefs —Newsletter 6.45

Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and is much sought after by winemakers throughout Northern California. It is located in the Green Valley appellation, near the headwaters of Green Valley Creek. Wineries sourcing Keefer Ranch fruit include A.P. Vin, Failla, Freeman, Kosta-Browne, Loring, Pali and Siduri. The inaugural 2006 vintage of Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir will be released in 2008. Sign up for the mailing list at

Oregon’s Top Vineyards According to Wine Press Northwest blog, The Wine Knows, the top vineyards in Oregon are: (1) Shea Vineyards, (2) Del Rio Vineyards, (3) Seven Hills Vineyard, (4) Temperance Hill Vineyard, (5) Meredith Mitchell Vineyard, (6) Seven Springs Vineyard, (7) Goldschmidt Vineyard, (8) Elton Vineyard, (9) The Pines Vineyard, and (10) Guadalupe Vineyard.

Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Sold Terlato Wine Group has purchased the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills from Robert and Janice Atkin. It is contiguous to Sanford Winery’s 110-acre La Rinconada Vineyard. Currently the vineyard is planted to 66 acres of Pinot Noir, 51 acres of Chardonnay and smaller amounts of Viognier and Pinot Gris. The new owners plan to continue to supply wineries such as Sanford, Au Bon Climat, Longoria and Bonaccorsi.

Vinquire A new free comprehensive wine search engine has been launched at Users can search for wines at over 3,300 wineries and retailers in the United States. The search engine displays the results of a wine search by prices from lowest to highest. Users can read and submit wine reviews and participate in a forum. Wine recommendations can be optionally limited to wines available at common chain stairs like BevMo, Albertsons and Trader Joe’s. I tried the search engine for several Pinot Noir wine searches and found it very user friendly.

Oregon Wine Label Regulations Updated The Oregon Liquor Control Commission updated the 30-year-old statewide wine labeling regulations. Of 72 wine grape varieties grown in Oregon, 18 will now be allowed to be blended with up to 25% of other grape varieties. The remaining 54, which make up more than 90% of Oregon wine production and includes Pinot Noir, will still require a minimum 90%. A wine may now contain 95% of fruit from a place specified on the label (previously 100%) and still carry the geographic designation on the label (ie appellations). Producers can now use either Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio on Oregon wine labels (previously only Pinot Gris was allowed).

2008 Burgundy Wine Institute Courses The listing of courses available for 2008 in Burgundy given by the Burgundy Wine Institute in Beaune is now available at The small-group tasting-based courses are given to both amateurs and professionals in weekend, halfweek and week formats. The courses include field trips to some of Burgundy’s most notable producers, sommeliers and coopers. Courses are sponsored by Elden Wine and BIVB Ecole des Vins.

Prestigious Titles MW or Master of Wine has been conferred on only 257 individuals in the world by the Institute of Masters of Wine. 19 nationalities are represented by 21 countries. The title is held by members of the wine trade, producers and connoisseurs. MS or Master Sommelier is a title held by 146 members of the Court of Master Sommeliers. 3 MSs are also MWs - all male.

Rendezvous Inn & Restaurant This restaurant in Fort Bragg, California on the Mendocino Coast received the highest rating for food (27/30) in Mendocino County in the 2008 Zagat Survey of San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants. This is the third year in a row the Rendezvous has received this distinction. I have dined once in this turn-of-the-century Craftsman-style B&B and can vouch for the excellence of this restaurant. Worth a side trip if you are in Northern California.

Natalie MacLean Assists Thanksgiving Wine Choices This time of year everyone is offering advice about choosing wines for the Thanksgiving table because the choices are complex with so many flavors to match. Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass, offers wine and food pairing recommendations in her book not only for Thanksgiving but also foods such as vegetables and chocolate that are difficult to match with wine. Natalie’s free online matching tool at complements her in-depth discussion in the book by allowing you to click on “turkey holiday dinner” to find wines that accompany all kinds of dishes, from roast turkey to turducken, from creamed corn to pecan pie. You can also e-mail her via the website and she will suggest a match for you. My personal recommendation for a versatile Thanksgiving wine (beyond Pinot Noir of course) - Sparkling Shiraz from Australia.

Tao Las Vegas According to Food Arts (November 2007), Tao Las Vegas is the single highestgrossing restaurant in the country (and very likely in the world). Last year the restaurant took in $55 million. 50% of the earnings at Tao are derived from alcoholic beverages! The number two restaurant was Tavern on the Green in New York City, taking in $38 million.

Auteur for the Common Man Auteur is one of the newer cult Pinot Noirs produced in California. Winemaker and owner, Kenneth Juhasz (who also makes the wine at The Donum Estate), learned his winemaking in the cool climates of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and Carneros regions, and New Zealand’s Central Otago. The name Auteur is French for author and composer. The Auteur Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir (313 cases) has been drawing considerable attention but has limited availability through a mailing list at and Vinfolio in San Francisco. There is also an excellent Auteur Hyland Vineyard Pinot Noir (291 cases). An entry level wine is also available (I call it the common man’s Auteur) which is much less expensive - Auteur Ophelia. It is composed of California and Oregon Pinot Noir fruit ($38) and is available in the retail marketplace.

Which Varietal Do You Resemble? At, you can take a quick test to determine which wine varietal you most resemble (not the same as the varietal you like the most). Kelly, who runs the site, has also published a book which expands this idea further: Wine Types: Discover Your Inner Grape ($10.95). I took the test and found I was most like (don’t tell anyone) Cabernet! Traditional, dependable, preferring a strong foundation and a realist who trust past experiences.

Prodigal Wines Now Available Prodigal Wines in the Santa Rita Hills is now a bonded winery and can market and sell their wines. The wines will be produced at a new shared facility on Santa Rosa Road. I tasted the first releases this year with owners Steve & Mary Russell and can heartily recommend them (see my notes, PinotFile, Volume 6, Issue 18). The website is

Ridgeway Launches Website Ridgeway Vineyards’ owners Michael and Teela Ridgeway, have launched their website, The new winemaker here is Don Baumhefner, formerly of Copeland Creek. The 2005 Ridgeway Pinot Noir, produced from the estate vineyard in the Petaluma hills, was released in September.

Beaux Fréres Co-owners Michael Etzel, Robert Roy and Robert Parker, Jr. have announced the release of the 2006 Beaux Fréres Vineyard Pinot Noir ($65), the 2006 The Upper Terrace Pinot Noir ($75), and the 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($45). The wines are available in 750 ml, 1.5 ml, 3 L and 5 L formats direct from the winery, The entire estate is now farmed biodynamically. All of the Beaux Fréres wines show a full-bodied, powerful style of Pinot Noir and usually benefit from a little bottle time. According to winemaker Michael Etzel, the 2006 Beaux Fréres Vineyard Pinot Noir “is the sexiest, most hedonistic wine from this vineyard site to date. For that reason, we think it is among the finest wines we have ever produced.”

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