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Shandel’s Oppenlander Vineyard

Oppenlander Vineyard is located in Comptche in Mendocino County, just north of Anderson Valley. It is owned and farmed by fifth generation owners Bill and Norm Shandel. The property was homesteaded in the 1860s and Bill and his family still live in the original log home. The property was known as Oppenlander Ranch for nearly a century, then Shandel Ranch for over a decade, and now Surprise Valley Ranch, Inc. since 1963.

The vineyard is located 8 miles as the crow flies from the Mendocino coast. Pommard and Dijon clones 114 and 115 are planted in Oppenlander (510) heavy clay loam which is unique to Comptche. The vineyard was first planted in 1997 and today there are 20 acres in vines.

Winemaker John Pepe has been crafting superb and distinctive Pinot Noirs from this vineyard since the 2002 vintage and this low-profile label as been winning many awards in major wine competitions. This is not a beautifully landscaped and picturesque vineyard and the Shandel’s label is plain and simple. What is important here is what is in the bottle and that is great terroir-driven Pinot Noir. Phillips Hill Estates in Anderson Valley crafts an excellent version of Pinot Noir from this vineyard as well.

2007 Shandel’s Oppenlander Vineyard Comptche Mendocino County Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., >400 cases, $40, unreleased. · Moderately dark in color and darkly floral on the nose with full-bodied flavors of wild blackberries and raspberries, red plum and bittersweet chocolate. The taste is quite exotic and distinctive. The wine is nicely composed and charms with its satiny texture. The remarkably persistent finish leaves a hint of warmth in its wake. Still young and not as expressive as it will be, this one is a winner.

Shandel’s Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noirs can be ordered through the website at The 2006 vintage is the current release and is an excellent wine as well. A world-class blackberry jam is also available for sale.

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