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Churchill Cellars

Ken and Susan Churchill are Pinot Noir enthusiasts who sold their environmental consulting business and moved to the Russian River Valley to make ultra-premium Pinot Noir. Their first Pinot Noir, the 2003 Churchill Cellars Bella Luna Vineyard Pinot Noir, won a Gold Medal at the 2006 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Inspired by their success, they are now pursuing their dream in earnest. They are committed to sustainable and precision farming and have talented winemaker, Anthony Austin, on board to steer the ship. Anthony Austin crafted some memorable Pinot Noirs in the early days of Santa Barbara County wine history and is also currently the winemaker at Sonoma Coast Vineyards.

Winemaking is typical for California Pinot Noir. The grapes are de-stemmed and cold soaked for 9 days. Punch downs are done twice a day. The fruit is fermented with both natural and Assmanhausen yeast. The grapes are then pressed and placed in new French oak barrels for 18 months.

The estate vineyard, Bella Luna Vineyard, is located on the Churchill Estate in the Russian River Valley. Soils are sandy loam and clonal selections are Dijon 115, 667, 777, and 459.. The vineyard is planted with 4’ x 4’ spacing, similar to Burgundy. Watering is kept to a minimum to mildly stress the vines and concentrate the flavors in the grapes.

2004 Churchill Cellars Russian River Valley Blend Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 479 cases, $36. This wine is a blend of six Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast vineyards. Clones are Dijon 115, 667, 777, Swan and Pommard 3. 25% whole clusters are added in. Aged in 50% new Tonnellerie Sirugue oak barrels and 50% seasoned barrels. · This is a medium to fullbodied Pinot Noir with a deep, ruby color. Aromas of damp leaves and dark stone fruits lead to fruit-driven flavors. The wine is tight and concentrated at this stage, and although it is fat on the palate, it lacks acidity. As it warms, the nose and finish deliver a little heat.

2004 Churchill Cellars Bella Luna Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 124 cases, $45. 15-18% whole clusters. Aging and winemaking the same as above. · The aromatics in this wine are to die for: ripe cherries, vanilla, and Xmas spice. Tasted over a few hours, the wine kept pumping out these terrific aromas and I was thoroughly content just to sniff. It was a nose you could drink. I am convinced that this type of perfume is distinctive and typical of great Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs. The wine is full-bodied and rich with red and black fruits and tea flavors, but the nose trumps the flavors at this point. The mouth feel is luxurious. A slight astringency at the finish will flush out with cellaring. This vineyard is a star in the making and in the same mold as its neighboring prestigious vineyards such as Olivet Lane and Olivet Grange.

Churchill Cellars is located at 1574 Olivet Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. The phone number is 707-578- 5393. Wine may be purchased on the website at

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