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Wayfarer: Pinot Noir from a Picturesque Site on the True Sonoma Coast

Wayfarer Vineyard is one of the more scenic vineyard properties among the many I have visited over the years. To get an appreciation of its location, visit the video, “Discover Wayfarer Vineyard,” on YouTube. The video also introduces owner Cleo Pahlmeyer and winemaker Todd Kohn.

Wayfarer Vineyard is located in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA less than 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean. At an elevation of 1100 feet, this dramatic locale is planted with 30 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Imagine the challenges and dedication required to farm wine grapes in this rugged landscape that is far removed from the comforts of the Russian River Valley several miles to the east.

The Wayfarer Vineyard was established by Jason Pahlmeyer in 1998 and the Wayfarer Vineyard label has been offered since the 2012 vintage. The wines have always garnered extremely high accolades from the wine press and have been included on my annual California Pinot Noir All-Americans List on several occasions. The winemaker since 2018 has been Todd Kohn.

Several bottlings are offered including a Wayfarer Pinot Noir and special cuvées that include The Traveler, Paige’s Ridge, Mother Rock and Golden Mean. These highly recommended true Sonoma Coast wines are sold through a mailing list and online at

2019 Wayfarer Wayfarer Vineyard Fort-Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $90. Composed of 11 clones found in the vineyard. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of boysenberry, blackberry and tilled wet earth. Forward drinking with considerable charm, offering a mid-weight array of purple and black berry fruits that have good freshness and intensity. The balance is admirable, creating a welcoming drinking experience. Score: 93

2019 Wayfarer The Traveler Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $150. A block of suitcase clone that pays homage to the journey of the original vine cuttings from Burgundy. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Highly perfumed with aromas of dark Bing cherry, black raspberry, vanillin and a floral lift. The nose is flat-out glorious over time. Luscious black cherry, purple grape and purple berry fruit flavors are enhanced by a riff of spice. Easily approachable with wonderful balance and an extremely long and sleek finish. Score: 95

2019 Wayfarer Paige’s Ridge Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $125. Sourced from clone 667 that is planted on the steepest slope of the eastern edge of the vineyard. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Reserved but pleasant aromas of purple and black berries, matcha tea, spice and vanilla. Very polished in the mouth, with mid-weight flavors of blackberry, black cherry, anise and an underlying earthiness. Great harmony with suave fine-grain tannins and a persistent finish. The nose was much more aromatic when the wine was tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. Score: 94

2019 Wayfarer Mother Rock Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $125. Clones 37 (Mt Eden) and 777 planted in the shallowest soil in the vineyard. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Alluring aromas of black cherry pie filling, cola and dark red rose petal. Seductively spicy with a roseate bent on the palate in a mid-weight style. Vibrant fruit flavors of dark cherry and boysenberry fill the mouth with goodness and are engaged with harmonious tannins and acidity. A departing black cherry high note is persistent and memorable. Truly, a reference wine for true Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Score: 96

2019 Wayfarer Golden Mean Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $125. Pommard and Swan clones. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Demure aromas of blackberry, spice and toasty oak. A plethora of dark red and black fruits are framed by a compliment of oak. Shy but very suave with minimal tannins and a modest tug of acidity. The least expressive wine in the 2019 lineup initially but more inviting when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle yet the aromas remain subdued. Cellaring or decanting is advised. Score: 93

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