Elite California Pinot Noir Vineyards Part II: North Coast - Russian River Valley
My only concern is that without defining an agreeable classification for
California, we will see things like “California Grand Cru White Zinfandel”
on the shelves and I doubt anyone wants to see the market saturated with
this sort of nonsense.”
Russian River Valley
Owner: Allen Family (leased to J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery)
Acres: 14 (Pinot Noir) and 16 (Chardonnay)
Years planted: The oldest 4.9-acre vines at “Allen North Hill” date to 1974 and were planted by Joe Rochioli,
Jr. using cuttings from Rochioli’s West Block planting. The original vines were removed after harvest in
2019 and replanted in 2020 with Pommard 4 clone on 101-14 rootstock. Later expansion of North Hill
by the Joe and Tom Rochioli included 5 acres of a mix of Pommard and West Block selection bringing
the North Hill to +/- 10 acres. The 2-acre “South Hill” was also planted in the late 1970s and has since
been removed. It was replanted with Dijon 115 in 2017. South Hill is now close to 4 acres. The Pinot
vines in the vineyard are now divided into three areas: North Hill, which partly surrounds the older
Williams Selyem winemaking facility, South Hill and West Hill.
Location: The Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley on Westside Road (across the street from Rochioli in
Aspect: Western, hilly side of Westside Road. East to west and north to south rows. Sloping bench land and
flat land at 110-120 feet elevation.
Pinot Noir scions: West Block selection (? Pommard), Pommard 4 and Dijon 115.
Soils: Arbuckle gravelly loam and Yolo sandy loam overflow (pebbles, river rock and dark loam with streaks of
Vines: Rootstocks are AxR1 and 101-14. Trellising is bilateral cordon.
Farming: The irrigated vines are managed by the crew of J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery.
Winery clients: The portion of the original Allen Vineyard named Three Corner Vineyard was deeded to Joe
Rochioli, Jr. for the work he did in establishing and farming the Allen Vineyard. It thereby became an
estate vineyard of J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery. Clients include Williams Selyem since 1980 and
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery.
Comments: Howard Allen was a fourth generation Californian and a University of California at Berkeley
alumnus. After his military service, he worked in real estate and property management in Belvedere,
north of San Francisco. He passed away on February 1, 2013.
2017 Gary Farrell Rochioli-Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $80. A blend
composed primarily of a Pommard selection from the old 1974 and the newer 1996 Allen Vineyard North Hill
blocks, with the balance a Pommard selection at Rochioli Vineyard.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass.
Alluring fragrance of Bing cherry, strawberry, baking spices and worn leather. Fresh and juicy on the palate in a
mid-weight style featuring a charge of dark cherry and raspberry fruit flavors. Silken tannins and uplifting acidity
drive the pleasure. A faint compliment of oak plies the background. Like biting into a ripe cherry. Reviewed
June 14, 2020.
2017 J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery Three Corner Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly over a few hours to reveal very enticing
aromas of red and black cherry, baking spices ad forest floor. Mid-weight plus in concentration with flavors of
blackberry, black raspberry and black cherry that make a powerful statement. A little rugged, rustic and earthy
early on but when sampled several hours later, the unctuous fruit was more amendable and vivid. The tannins
were quite easygoing, the texture was soft, and the finish had unusual potency and staying power. Tasted twice
in May and August 2020 with consistent findings.
2018 William Selyem Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $85.
garnet color in the glass. The aromas of dark cherry, raspberry, loam, graham and rose petal really grab your
attention over time in the glass. Earth-toned flavors of black cherry and blackberry with Mediterranean spice.
The succulent fruit has a good moderating tannic edge and the wine has its own earthy stamp. Persistent on
the back end and thoroughly enjoyable.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/151/ and www.princeofpinot.com/winery/420/
Owner: Hartford Family Winery
Acres: 20, all Pinot Noir
Year planted: Initial planting in 1975 by Warren Dutton. In 1996, Pommard and Dijon 114 and 777 were
planted in a part of the vineyard known as Hailey’s Block and this planting has been offered as a
separate bottling since the 2004 vintage.
Location: The vineyard is within the coolest mesoclimate of the Green Valley of Russian River Valley,
northwest of Sebastopol. It is located in an area that is the first place where fog arrives through
Petaluma Gap and the last place where the fog burns off.
Aspect: The vineyard floods easily and is called the “snowshoe vineyard” because in wet years the workers
need to wear snowshoes to get through some muddy rows of vines for pruning.
Pinot Noir scion: Martini 13
Soil: Goldridge sandy loam
Farming: Challenging as the vineyard struggles to produce one ton per acre. Harvest can be delayed to after
Winery clients: None, a monopole
Comments: Although production is small, Arrendell Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a flagship wine
for Hartford Family Winery. Some production from Arrendell Vineyard may be included in other Hartford
Family winery Pinot Noirs.
2017 Hartford Court Arrendell Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 217 cases, $100.
Aged 16 months in 44% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dark garnet color in the glass.
The nose opens slowly to reveal enticing aromas of blackberry, blueberry-pomegranate, earthy fora and a hint
of oak. A flood of blue and black fruits envelope the palate in a mid-weight plus stye. The layers of fruit saturate
the taste buds, creating a magnetic attraction, yet the wine is not cloying or sweet. There is welcome harmony
with a favorable compliment of oak. The fruit really hangs on through he long, long finish that is symbolic of a
special wine. Reviewed August 27, 2020.
2018 Hartford Court Hailey’s Block Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 240
cases, $70. This block, planted in 1996 to Dijon clones, lies within Arrendell Vineyard.
Dark garnet color in the
glass. Brooding aromas of blackberry jam, ripest cherry, dark red rose petal, earthy flora and vanilla. Blackfruited
in a mid-weight-plus style with a good compliment of spice. Very gutsy with plenty of sap but everything
in focus and balance. More giving when tasted several hours later from a previously opened bottle. Decant if
you must drink now.
More reviews: https://www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/159/
Dehlinger Estate Vineyard
Owners: Tom and Carole Dehlinger
Acres: 25 of Pinot Noir
Years planted: Inaugural planting in 1975 (3.6 acres of Pinot Noir) followed by 14 years of subsequent
plantings of Pinot Noir. A second period of Pinot Noir replanting was between 2011-2014. Replanting is
Location: In the heart of the Russian River Valley on Vine Hill Road in the Laguna Ridge subdivision of the
Russian River Valley in Sebastopol.
Aspect: Undulating gentle hills that are heavily influenced by maritime fog.
Pinot Noir scions: Pommard 4, Martini 13, Swan selections and clones, Calera, Mt. Eden, and Dijon 943.
Soils: Diverse, but basically Goldridge sandy loam on lower elevations and Altamont gravelly fine sandy loam
(Sebastopol series) on hilltops. 25 acres of Altamont soil and 15 acres of Goldridge soil and 5 acres that
is a hybrid of the two soil types. The Goldridge soil is deeper, richer and more fertile, while the Altamont
soil, which is a variation of Goldridge soil, has a redder color, a different mineral content, and is low in
Vines: Old vines planted on AxR1 rootstock, 10’ x 8’ spacing, split canopy, VSP Lyre trellis (1993). Some
newer vines are VSP trellis. The vineyard features a diversity of vine ages, soil types, and clones.
Farming: Focused on observation of small details. Vigor and soil differences have beeb mapped out
throughout the vineyard and these differences are used to delineate management zones. These small
sections are harvested separately so as to capture terroir expressions throughout the vineyard.
Irrigation in different parts of the vineyard is customized according to soil type and vigor.
Winery clients: None, a monopole
Comments: Pinot Noir releases highlight Goldridge and Altamont sections of the vineyard as well as certain
blocks or sections of the vineyard in some vintages. Special bottlings have included Octagon (from
vines surrounding an eight-sided house that tom Dehlinger built in the 1970s), Champ de Mars (from a
section fo the vineyard with a soil color reminiscent of the red surface of the planet Mars and combines
some of the oldest and youngest vines on the property), High Plains (originating from a high-elevation
section of the vineyard planted in 1989), Renatus (selection of wines made from young vines), and Old
Vine, and Reserve. Recently, a Russian River Valley bottling has been added to the portfolio and
contains estate grapes. Second generation vintner, Eva Dehlinger, directs farming of the vineyard and
winemaking. Photo below is of recent new plantings of Pinot Noir in Octagon Vineyard at Dehlinger
2017 Dehlinger Goldridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $50.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Exceptional nose with an array of aromas including strawberry, cherry, rose petal, sage, white pepper,
vanilla and cardamom. Delicious dark red cherry essence in a mid-weight style. Relatively rich but reigned in
with juicy acidity and fine tannins. Excellent harmony, finishing with a jubilee of cherry aroma. Still superb when
tasted two days later from a previously opened bottle.
2018 Dehlinger Champ de Mars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $65.
Dark garnet color in the
glass. Aromas of blackberry, raw beef and a bit of new oak. Mid-weight plus in style, with an array of blue,
purple, and black berry fruits augmented with spice. Nicely balanced, with gentle tannins, and a slightly dry
finish. The copious, vivid fruit is the highlight.
2018 Dehlinger Goldridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $60.
The nose takes its time
unfolding in the glass but reaches considerable appeal over time showing aromas of black cherry, blackberry
and earthy flora. Mid-weight in character, with a tasty dark red cherry core with added flavors of strawberry,
raspberry and baking spices. Impressive length on the palate with an extremely long finish that goes on and
on. My only nit is the slight sense of alcoholic heat.
More reviews: https://www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/527/
Dutton Ranch Jentoft Vineyard
Owner: Dutton Ranch (joint lease between DuMOL, Occidental Wines, and Dutton Ranch).
Acres: 6, all Pinot Noir
Year planted: Steve Dutton’s original planting of Calera clone dates to 2003. The DuMOL block was planted in
Location: Between the lower Green Valley of Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast, east of Occidental,
on Occidental Road.
Aspect: Steep, south-facing hillside at 550-600 feet elevation. The westernmost, highest altitude district in the
Russian River Valley.
Pinot Noir scions: Calera (south side) and Swan (north side)
Soil: Shallow Goldridge sandy loam topsoil with underlying sandstone bedrock.
Vines: Vine density is 1,555 vines per acre, rootstock is 420A, spacing is 7’ x 4’, and trellising is VSP.
Farming: The vineyard is farmed to DuMOL’s specifications by Steve Dutton over the past 14 years. The vines
are naturally low-yielding, allowing an approach to farming that is relatively low input. The vineyard is
Winery clients: DuMOL produces a vineyard-designate Pinot Noir under the “Ryan” subtitle on the label.
Grapes are also sold to Dutton-Goldfield for their ‘Deviate’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Dutton Ranch
Pinot Noir bottlings. A new winery, Marine Layer is a client.
Comments: The winemaker and co-owner of DuMOL, Andy Smith, says, “It’s a brilliant site.” DuMOL’s first
bottling as a vineyard-designate Pinot Noir was the 2017 vintage. The hallmarks of this vineyard are
deep roots, thick fog and a prolonged and steady growing season.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Deviate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 499 cases. $72. A blend of grapes
from Jentoft Vineyard and Putnam Vineyard (near Annapolis on the West Sonoma Coast). 100% de-stemmed.
Aged 15 months in 55% new French oak barrels.
Dark garnet color in the glass. A message of quality is clear in
this wine that leads off with aromas of black cherry, wine cave and nutty oak. Expansive, mouth filling purple
and black berry fruits engage the mid palate with purpose and persist through a very long finish. There is just a
kiss of oak, a touch of spice, and a subtle smoky thread. The tannins are invisible and the overall impression is
one of harmony. Even better when tasted two days after opening. Reviewed November 17, 2018.
2017 DuMOL Jentoft Vineyard “Ryan” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. Soaring aromas of dark cherry, blackberry jam, underbrush, spice and malt. Strikingly
luscious black currant and blackberry fruits composed in a mid-weight plus style. Undertones of spice and
anise. Very full on the palate with felty tannins and an intensely fruity and lengthy finish. The fruit is ultra-ripe
and approaches prune in tone, my only nit. This wine displays very enthusiastic fruit from a relatively young
vineyard. More appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle with more harmony,
more gentle power and a huge, I mean huge, long finish.
2018 DuMOL Jentoft Vineyard “Ryan” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. Lovely aromas of black cherry, cardamom spice, dark rose petal and Bailey’s Irish Cream. I
could not get enough of this nose and I would have been perfectly happy to just inhale the aromas without
drinking the wine. Flat-out delicious mid-weight plus, sumptuous flavors of black cherry and black raspberry,
with a compliment of engaging spice. A full gulp of fruit yet the wine has polish and agreeability, and flows like
silk across the palate. There are absolutely no hard edges in this ephemeral wine that grabs on like tentacles
and refuses to give up its hold on the finish.
2018 Marine Layer Jentoft Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 125 cases, $65. 30% whole
cluster. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, cranberry, wintergreen, and sweet pipe
smoke. Mid-weight in character, with flavors of red and black cherry, strawberry, and dried herbs. Silky on the
palate with minimal tannins and a juicy finish with some length. There is a subtle vegetative green quality to
this wine due to underripe fruit and or whole cluster.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/1920/.
Olivet Lane Vineyard
Owner: Robert Pellegrini
Acres: 32 (Pinot Noir), 38 (Chardonnay)
Year planted: Initial planting in 1975 with vine-by-vine replants since 2019. A 12-acre block of Pinot Noir was
added in 2017.
Location: The site is on Olivet Lane Road between Guerneville Road and River Road just east of the Laguna
de Santa Rosa in the heart of the Russian River Valley AVA in the city of Santa Rosa.
Aspect: Flat land with north-to-south rows.
Pinot Noir scion: Martini 13
Soil: Well-drained gravelly clay loam
Vines: 12’ x 8’ spacing, AxR1 rootstock, cane pruned on a VSP trellis.
Farming: Farming practices have been altered in the original block of 20 acres of Pinot Noir to preserve the
root structure of the vines. This includes training up renewal spurs on the vines that have trunk
congestion. Vines are irrigated.
Winery clients: Olivet Lane Estate Pinot Noirs are produced in a winery located on the vineyard property.
Merry Edwards has produced an Olivet Lane Vineyard designated Pinot Noir since 1997. Williams
Selyem has been a long time winery client. In some vintages, there have been other clients including
MacRostie and WesMar.
Comments: A new 12-acre block of Pinot Noir was planted on the west side of the property with the first
harvest in 2020. These grapes will be used for the winery’s estate sparkling, rosé, and nouveau
programs. Olivet Lane Vineyard should not be confused with an adjacent property, Olivet Ranch, owned
by Failla Wines and planted to Chardonnay.
2016 Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $65. Aged 14 months in 35% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet 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, matched tannins make for easy drinking. The lengthy finish is awash in vibrant fruit with just a hint
of oak trailing off at the end. Reviewed August 27, 2020.
2017 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 730 cases, $68.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dark berry jam, wine cave, old book and vanilla. Mid-weight plus
flavors of blackberry, cassis, and pomegranate with a touch of iron. A big, bold, ripely-fruited expression of
Pinot Noir with supportive tannins. The deep well of fruit has charm, the wine stays in balance, but the wine
enters a little stronger than it finishes. Reviewed July 20, 2019.
2018 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $78.
dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of beef bouillon, chamomile tea, and cardamom spice. Mid-weight
flavors of black cherry, blackberry and black tea. Nicely balanced with gracious tannins and a long, quenching
finish. Rather exotic and unique. I have never encountered the aroma and taste of chamomile tea in a Pinot
Noir prior to this. Pinot Noir always provides surprises. Reviewed August 27, 2020.
2019 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $98.
dark garnet color in the glass. A complex nose with blackberry, dark chocolate and earth aromas. A hearty core
of blackest cherry and blackberry fruits with inviting undertones of earth and umami. Very polished with
impeccable balance. Easygoing tannins make for good approachability now. A very honorable wine because it
reflects both the clone (in this case Martini) and the unique terroir. Stellar when tasted the following day from a
previously opened bottle. This beauty will grow on you over time in the glass.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/294/.
Porter Creek Vineyards
Owner: Alex Davis, George Davis
Acres: Hillside Vineyard: 3 acres of Pinot Noir first planted in 1974 by previous owners and acquired by
George Davis in 1979 as part of the purchase of the ranch.. Fiona Hill Vineyard: 7 acres of Pinot Noir
planted in 1997 by E. & J. Gallo and deeded to Porter Creek Vineyard as part of a property swap.
Years planted: Hillside Vineyard: 1974. Fiona Hill Vineyard: 1997.
Location: On Westside Road north of Wohler Bridge and adjacent MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg.
Aspect: Moderately sloping hillsides. Hillside Vineyard is moderately more elevated than Fiona Vineyard.
Pinot Noir scions: Hillside Vineyard: Martin 13. Fiona Hill Vineyard: Wädenswil 2A
Soil: Hard clay topsoil with fractured stone bedrock
Vines: Hillside Vineyard: St. George rootstock, wide spacing, some conversion to VSP trellis from California
sprawl. Fiona Hill Vineyard: spacing 8’ x 5’.
Farming: Continual revitalization with vine-by-vine interplanting and soil improvement. Certified organic and
Demeter Biodynamic® in 2003. Largely dry farmed. Alex Davis is the vineyard manager as well as the
winemaker for Porter Creek Vineyards.
Winery clients: None, a monopole
Comments: Many of the original vines at Hillside Vineyard have been in continuous production since 1974
making it one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Yields have become
painfully low making the vineyard an economic liability and a candidate for future replanting (acquire the
Hillside Vineyard Pinot Noir while you can!). Porter Creek Hillside Vineyard pictured below.
2017 Porter Creek Fiona Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $52.
garnet color in the glass. Earthbound aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry, blackberry jam and root beer.
Plenty of body and weight with good mid-palate presence. Flavors of blueberry, black cherry and blackberry
with a touch of dark chocolate framed by a firm backbone of tannin and a bit of oak. The fruit really hangs on at
the finish which is marked by slight alcoholic heat.
2017 Porter Creek Winegrower’s Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $65.
garnet color in the glass. Shy but redeeming aromas of Bing cherry, spice, and cola. Very sleek in the mouth,
featuring black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors framed by firm tannins. A little rustic, rugged and reserved
at present, with the fruit only peaking out. A serious wine with long-term potential. More appealing when tasted
the following day from a previously opened bottle but the tannins remained a bit daunting.
2017 Porter Creek Hillside Vineyard - Old Vine Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., $72.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, raspberry coulis and spice cabinet. Mid-weight in
style, offering plenty of enjoyable black cherry, raspberry, and cola flavors with a bit of umami and a dusting of
oak. There are some tannins but they are not intrusive. The juicy finish is particularly enjoyable with good cut. A
somewhat demure, interesting wine that excites with signature Pinot Noir character. Noticeably better when
tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle.
2018 Porter Creek Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $40.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Inviting aromas of dark cherry, red rose petal, earthy flora, warm croissant and a rub of oak. Glorious
Bing cherry core with a hint of strawberry and oak. Juicy, with modest tannins. Easy to drink now, but lacks a
little mid-palate and finishing richness.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/1006/.
Quail Hill Vineyard
Owners: Anisya and Lynn Fritz (Lynmar Estate)
Acres: 47 total: 31.3 acres of Pinot Noir and 15.7 acres of Chardonnay
Years planted: The original plantings date to 1974. A phased replanting of 71% of the vineyard was
undertaken in 1996 and completed by 2005. Select heritage blocks, including the 1.94 acres of Swan
selection in Block 2 planted in 1974, were retained. An additional 1.2 acres of Swan selection was
planted in 1997 as Block 12 using budwood sourced from the original 1974 vines.
Location: A stunning estate bordered by the Laguna de Santa Rosa wet lands on Frei Road in Sebastopol.
Aspect: One of the cooler areas of the Russian River Valley, exposed to cooling influences from the Petaluma
Gap and nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa terraced hillsides.
Pinot Noir scions: Swan, Calera, Mt. Eden, Quail Hill Select (a proprietary selection, possible from La
Romanée Vineyard in Burgundy), Wädenswil 2A, ASW1, ASW2, and ASW3 (all from Archery Summit
Winery in Oregon), Dijon 943, 114, 115, 667, and 777, Beba (? Spanish origin, Pinot Noir 10), and QHV
Soil: Goldridge sandy loam
Vines: The original Swan selection vines are on St. George rootstock. Other vines are primarily on 3309
rootstock with some 101-14, 1616c, 420a and RG rootstocks.
Farming: Sustainable block-by-block vineyard practices. The habitat has a welcoming variety of fauna and
there is a refrain from insecticides. Intense, continuous soil mapping and plant tissue sampling create
flourishing vines without unnecessary fertilization. An organic flower and vegetable garden adjacent the
winery’s hospitality center provides a bounty for the winery’s kitchen and also a thriving habitat for bees,
butterflies and birds.
Winery clients: None, a monopole
Comments: This vineyard is an unusually diverse one with fifteen blocks of Pinot Noir and multiple clone/
selection and rootstock combinations. Some have said that the beauty found at Lynmar Estate is unlike
any other that can be found in California wine country. Anisya and Lynn Fritz are resident proprietors
and closely woven into the daily operations of the vineyard and winery.
2017 Lynmar Estate Old Vines Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $80. Swan
selection old vines of Block 2 go exclusively into the Old Vines bottling.
Moderate garnet color in the glass.
Charming aromas of cherry, rose petal and baking spices. I love the floral aspect of the nose that is like wild
cherry sprinkled with fresh flowers. Mid-weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, blackberry and dark
chocolate address the palate without overreaching sweetness. The mouthfeel is luxurious, the tannins are
inline, and the finish is long and rewarding. Still exceptional when tasted the following day from a previously
opened bottle. An old vine treasure. Reviewed August 27, 2020.
2018 Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4%, $70. All 14 clones planted
in the estate vineyard are included, representing the complexity of the site.
Moderately dark garnet color in the
glass. Really enticing perfume of spiced black cherry, cola, mocha and warmed earth. A mid-weight mixed bag
of spiced purple and black fruits are very giving. Well-ripened, but not over-ripened fruit profile. Nicely
composed with gentle tannins and good finishing length. A very solid wine that elicits spicy thoughts.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/486/.
Owner: Kent Ritchie (since 1974)
Acres: 65 total: 3 acres of Pinot Noir, 45 acres of Chardonnay, and some Sauvignon Blanc.
Year planted: Pinot Noir planted initially in 1972
Location: Just down the street from the Joseph Swan Trenton Estate Vineyard at the intersection of Eastside
Road and Eastside-Healdsburg Road in the Laguna Ridges subdivision of the Russian River Valley in
the small town of Forestville.
Aspect: Situated on a hillside bench adjacent to a volcanic cinder cone. Northwest-facing hillside leading into the Russian River at an elevation of 200 feet. Coastal breezes and cool morning fog.
Pinot Noir scion: Martini 13, some Pommard 5
Soil: Goldridge topsoil with underlying pumice not found elsewhere in the Russian River Valley
Vines: Wide spacing, AxR1 rootstock. More than 50% of the Pinot Noir vines are original.
Farming: Kent Ritchie has farmed this unique site with passion and personal attention.
Winery clients: The original Pinot Noir block is sourced exclusively by Nicolai Stez, proprietor and winemaker
of Woodenhead Vintners who bottles a Ritchie Vineyard Pinot Noir under the “Cinder Cone” name.
Comments: The Ritchie Vineyard is renowned for Chardonnay and I consider it one of the top four
Chardonnay vineyards in the North Coast. The 1972 plantings of Old Wente Chardonnay are most
prized by winemakers.
2014 Woodenhead Ritchie Vineyard Cinder Cone Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $65.
garnet color in the glass. A Pinot Noir nose to die for, with the glorious perfume of black cherry, spice and rose
petal. Nothing is out of place in this mid-weight plus styled beauty offering layers of gregarious dark cherry and
purple berry fruit flavors that caress the palate with silkiness. Impeccable harmony and a lengthy finish that
provides a juicy, citric edge. This wine simply tastes damn good. Reviewed August 27, 2020.
2015 Woodenhead Ritchie Vineyard Cinder Cone Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $65.
garnet in color in the glass. Leading off are enticing scents of dark cherry and berry, and forest floor. Fullbodied
in style, with a reaching, expansive core of spiced black cherry fruit that keeps opening in the glass.
Richly endowed with fruit sap yet endlessly gentle. Ready now for prime time with ripe, gracious tannins and a
very long finish brimming with fruit goodness. Reviewed August 27, 2020.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/364/.
Owners: Rochioli family (J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery)
Acres: Total 140, 75 acres of Pinot Noir
1968: 4 acres of East Block , last vintage was 2008. 4 acres replanted in 2010 and now named Mid 40
1969: 4 acres of West Block planted. Currently, the remaining original vines make up 2.0 acres and an
additional 2.5 acre of plantings in 2008 bring the total to 4.5 acres.
1974: 4.9 acres of Three Corner vineyard planted in the North Hill of Allen Vineyard using cuttings from
West Block. The vines were removed after harvest in 2019 and replanted in 2020 with 5 acres of
Pommard 4 clone.
1985: 2.2 acres of Little Hill Vineyard established with additional plantings in 1994, 2005 and 2014 bring
the total to 15.7 acres.
1989: 13 acres of River Block Vineyard established with additional plantings in 2000 and 2008 bring the
total to 26.7 acres.
1998: 2.9 acres of Sweetwater Vineyard established with additional plantings in 1999, 2000, 2011,
2014, and 2017 bring the total to 14.5 acres.
2009: 4.6 acres of Big Hill Vineyard planted.
Location: The Middle Reach subdivision of the Russian River Valley on Westside Road in Healdsburg.
Aspect: Mostly on Low-lying flatland near the Russian River.
Pinot Noir scions: One or more Pommard field selections from Karl Wente estate plantings.
Soil: Goldridge sandy loam
Vines: Original plantings have 14’ x 8 spacing on AxR1 rootstock for the West Block. Other blocks vary and
include more modern spacing.
Farming: Tom Rochioli and Joe Rochioli, Jr. direct the farming. Fog is a major factor in the successful growth
of vines in the Russian River Valley but fog also creates the milieu for mildew. There is constant
monitoring for mildew with spraying sometimes required every 10-14 days during the growing season.
The proximity to the Russian River creates a vulnerability to pests including the blue-green
sharpshooter and the mealybug.
Winery clients: Rochioli Vineyards Pinot Noir clients allowed to display “Rochioli Vineyard on their label are
few and include Castalia, Gary Farrell Winery & Vineyards, Miura, Ramey Wine Cellars, and Williams
Comments: The West Block is referred to as the “mother block” because cuttings from this block have been
used for all subsequent block plantings on the Rochioli ranch as well as many other vineyards in the
Russian River Valley including the Allen Vineyard. All the Rochioli vineyards make up an “elite” grouping
and the winery produces vineyard-designated Pinot Noir from West Block, Three Corner, River Block,
Sweetwater, and Big Hill vineyards as well as an Estate Pinot Noir composed of grapes from all
Rochioli vineyards. There is a long waiting list for wineries wishing to purchase grapes from Rochioli
2017 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $60.
Moderately light garnet
color in the glass. Very earthy aromas present upon opening with cherry and leather in the background. Suave
in the mouth, with plenty of appealing black cherry and raspberry fruits with undertones of earth, mushroom,
spice and sarsaparilla. The tannins are silken making the wine approachable upon opening, but the wine is
considerably more fruit-centric and aromatic when sampled the following day from a previously opened bottle.
The cherry-driven finish shows excellent persistence. This wine does not possess the sap of the J. Rochioli
Pinot Noirs, but with a more earthy character is equally appealing in its own way. Review May 3, 2020.
2017 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $80. A blend of three
blocks planted in 1974, 1995 and 2000. A challenging harvest due to a severe heat wave. Harvest Brix
22.0º-24.5º. 85% of grapes de-stemmed. 10-15 day extended maceration. Aged 15 months in 40% new
French oak barrels.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, strawberry, blueberry,
spice and toasty oak working in harmony. Light to mid-weight in style, with plenty of cherry goodness. Oak
plays a rather prominent role with notes of spice and toast. The lip-smacking finish lasts for what seems like a
minute. Very gentle tannins and easy to enjoy now. Not as bold or ripely fruited as the typical Pinot Noir from
this vineyard, even a little shallow in comparison, but shows the signature acidity (pH 3.43, TA 0.71) that Gary
Farrell wines are known for.
2018 Rochioli Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $64. A blend of all the single vineyards
making up the Rochioli Estate: 40% Sweetwater, 39% Little Hill, 12% Big Hill, 6% West Block and 3% East
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens over time to reveal aromas of black cherry
cola, spice and warm brioche. A charming wine featuring the essence of black cherry accompanied by a spice
and savory herb component. Easygoing, with balanced tannins and a slight sense of alcohol on the modest
2018 Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $85.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Flattering aromas of Bing cherry, oak spice, pipe smoke, raisin and
maple syrup. Exhibiting gentle hedonism on the palate in a mid-weight style, with striking flavors of black
cherry, blackberry and Dr. Pepper with the fruit veering to full ripeness. Merged tannins, a shadow of oak in the
background, and an earthiness that emerges on the long finish leaves a good impression.
2019 Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $90. Older vines
from 1989 make up the bulk of the wine.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Distinctively Rochioli fruit
with aromas of Bing cherry, Chinese 5-spice as well as noticeable toasty oak. Mid-weight plus in style, with
expansive and bombastic Bing cherry flavor underlain with a note of cardamom spice. Reserved tannins and
easy approachability out of the gate. Big-time goodness and lengthy resolve with a glorious cherry-fueled
finish. My only nit is the oak treatment is noticeable.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/343/.
Soul Patch Vineyard
Owners: Guy and Judy Davis (Davis Family Vineyards)
Acres: 7 of Pinot Noir
Year planted: 1996
Location: The Laguna Ridge subdivision of the Russian River Valley in Sebastopol.
Aspect: Eastern-facing hillside, vineyard rows run north to south.
Pinot Noir scion: Pommard, Calera, and Dijon 777, 667, and 115.
Soil: Goldridge sandy loam with a very high amount of volcanic ash.
Vines: 7’ x 5’ spacing. 26 years of Pierce’s Disease led to planting of host plants for the bugs that eat the
sharpshooter larvae and remove the vine hosts of the sharpshooters. This is slowed that spread but hit
the vineyard hard from 2013 to 2015.
Farming: Owner and head winemaker Guy Davis farms the vineyard with his co-winemaker son Cole. Farming
has been organic since the original 1996 planting and earth-friendly farming practices are employed
Winery clients: None, a monopole
Comments: The vineyard also has some Zinfandel vines dating to 1896 and some Syrah and Chardonnay
2018 Davis Family Vineyards Soul Patch Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $55.
Native yeast fermentation. Aged 10 months in 33% new, 33% one-year-old and 33% 2-year-old French oak
barrels. A selection of the winemaker’s favorite barrels from Soul Patch Vineyard.
Dark garnet color in the
glass. Up-front aromas of blackberry, spice cake and Dr. Pepper. Mid-weight plus in style and very comforting
in the mouth, with a glorious display of well-spiced, blueberry, olalliberry, black raspberry and blackberry fruit
flavors framed by supportive, ripe tannins. Impeccable balance, finishing with the perfume of lovely Pinot must.
Highly drinkable now, but the harmony and tannic backbone predict at least a 2-year life ahead. This beauty is
like the gorgeous girl in school you always wanted to date. Reviewed April 10, 2021.
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/1591/.
Trenton Estate Vineyard
Owners: Rod and Lynn Berglund (Joseph Swan Vineyards)
Acres: 11 acres total, 8 acres of Pinot Noir
1969: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
1974: Pinot Noir
1996: Two blocks of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon closest to the winery were pulled out and
replaced with budwood from other estate Pinot Noir vines plus Dijon clones 113, 114, 115, 667, and 777.
Location: On Laguna road in the Santa Rosa Plain subdivision of the Russian River Valley near Forestville.
The Santa Rosa Plain lies between the Laguna Ridge subdivision to the West and the city of Santa Rosa to the
East. Although the vineyard is only a few miles south of Westside Road and the Middle Reach subdivision of
the Russian River Valley, the climate at Trenton Estate is distinctly cooler, foggier and wetter.
Aspect: In a cool, little dale between rolling hills. The majority of the vines are planted north to south on south-facing
hills that roll from east to west.
Pinot Noir scions: The original source of Pinot Noir was most likely Mount Eden (Martin Ray) through the
Experimental Station in Oakville. The vine mix was later named and certified as the Swan clone and became
widely distributed throughout California. There are also reports of vine cuttings planted at Swan’s vineyard that
originated at DRC in Burgundy as well as Dijon clones that were given to him. The current mix at Trenton
Estate vineyard is 70% Swan clone/selection and 30% six Dijon clones including faux 828.
Soil: Goldridge sandy loam
Vines: The original Pinot Noir plantings had a 12’ x 6’ and later 10’ x 6’ spacing, with no trellising. The vines
were established with Joe Swan’s version of a head-trained cordon with three stations for spurs (low, middle,
and high). In 1990, a VSP trellising was installed with two cordons, one on each side and modified in years to
Farming: There is a very long time between fruit set and harvest. Rod was the first and only person trusted by
Joe Swan to prune the vines. Initially, farming was conventional but converted to organic methods over time.
High volume cover crops are employed that are spaded in. Only sulfur and naturally occurring bacterium
parasitic to botrytis are sprayed. During the growing season, much of the work is pretty standard. Early
suckering is followed by shoot positioning and moving of the catch wires along with leafing in the fruiting zone
on the morning sun side of the vines. Since yields are low, fruit thinning is minimal although any defective fruit
or clusters that are on shoots that are too short to fully ripen are thinned out. The property is not fenced to allow
native wildlife free reign.
Vineyard clients: None, a monopole
Comments: Twice in 19 years the “Pentagon” bottling of Trenton Estate Pinot Noir was produced from the
latest ripening section of the vineyard that is located at the western corner of the south block. In the early
1970s, Pinot Noir was planted here on a fairly narrow and steep, north-facing strip on the upper slope, with Old
Wente clone of Chardonnay planted lower down. The Pinot Noir in this section is usually the last to be
harvested despite being very shy-bearing. The vineyard is rarely irrigated but this section has always been dry
farmed. The name “Pentagon” refers to the pattern of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay plantings in this special
section of the Trenton Estate Vineyard.
2012 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $65.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of oak-kissed blackberry, warn leather, raisin and grilled brisket.
Noticeably silky on entry with layers of earthbound blackberry, black currant, and prune flavors in a
middleweight plus style. The tannins have receded and only slightly grippy, while the fruit still shows some
presence Showing its age but still enjoyable with a very generous blackberry-fueled finish.
2016 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
12.2% alc., $72.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Savory and fruity aromas of underbrush, tilled earth, charcoal,
boysenberry, blackberry and toasty oak. Ripely fruited with mid-weight plus richness. Very savory and earthy,
with fruit flavors of purple berry and blackberry. Admirable harmony with an engaging smoothness on the
palate. Highly unique in that the wine is not just about extravagant cherry fruit so common with other Russian
River Valley Pinot Noirs. The fruit rises up over time in the glass with increasing length to the finish.
2016 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Pentagon Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 2 barrels, $100 (sold out). This one was only produced in one other year - 1997 - when it met the criteria
for a separate bottling.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Seductive aromas of cherry, rose petal, spice
box and sandy loam. The wine creates quite an impression on entry with a jubilee of well-spiced black cherry
flavor. Very soft like the hair of an angel, with great purity of fruit flavor. Highly congenial at this age with
immersed tannins and an extremely generous and lengthy finish. The wine packs plenty of flavor but leans
more toward elegance than power. My notes say, “Fantastic!.” This is one of those wines you can still taste and
remember where you drank it years later. My highest scoring Pinot Noir ever!
More reviews: www.princeofpinot.com/vineyard/175/.