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Winemaker Chris Carter released his first Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir from the 2012 vintage sourced from John Sebastiano and Melville Vineyards. I was very impressed with both his 2012 and 2013 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noirs which are reasonably priced considering the quality.
2020 update - Carter is producing Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills and Mendocino County.
Carter came from a family of aviators and originally planned to be a commercial pilot. Instead, he went to the University of California at Davis to study winemaking. After graduation, he worked in a number of cellars in California, Oregon (Penner-Ash) and New Zealand (Garrick) after graduation, returning home to Southern California, and launching his own label. His wines have been crafted in Lompoc.
Chris's journal on his website is very informative.
A new tasting room was opened in November 2020 in the Anderson Valley community of Philo at the last operating lumber mill in the valley. Tasting on the limited seating weather-protected patio by appointment
2015 Weatherborne Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.65, 350 cases, $40, screwcap. 88% John Sebastiano Vineyard and 12% La Encantada Vineyard. Harvest Brix 22.0º-23.5º. 25% whole cluster. Aged in 10% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of cherry, purple grape, pomegranate and brown spice. A forward drinking, mid weight styled wine, with a healthy core of cherry fruit lifted by juicy acidity. Nicely balanced with inviting poise, finishing with righteous black cherry, exotic spice and cola aromatics. This wine picks up intensity and appeal over time in the glass and the aromatics eventually soar. This wine is so easy going you can drink it all night long. Score: 93. Reviewed June 25, 2017 ARTICLE »
2015 Weatherborne La Encantada Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.53, 50 cases, $50, screwcap. Harvest Brix 22.0º. 50% whole cluster. Aged 10 months in neutral French oak barrels. · There is enough whole cluster character in this wine to add another dimension. Aromas of Bing cherry, underbrush, tobacco leaf and Asian 5-spice lead to a mid weight plus charge of black cherry fruit alerting the mid palate and donating goodness to the finish. A little more extract, tannin and length of finish compared to the Sta. Rita Hills bottling. Toned and trim, this wine carries more earthy and savory notes in a good way, while the mouth coating fruit leaves an impression. Score: 92. Reviewed June 25, 2017 ARTICLE »
2014 Weatherborne Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.65, 450 cases, $35, screwcap. Released April 2016. Winemaker Chris Carter is a one-man operation producing one wine. Composed of grapes from John Sebastiano (72%) and Kessler-Haak (18%) vineyards. Harvest Brix 23.9º. 38% whole cluster, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 10% new. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, purple grape and sandalwood are followed in the mouth by a juicy, mid weight core of cherry delight that attacks with intention and brings the mid palate to life. Smooth and comforting, with commendable oak management and a delightful, spice-laden finish. Score: 91. Reviewed August 17, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Weatherborne Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 450 cases, $35, screwcap. Sourced from the John Sebastiano Vineyard. 8%-9% whole cluster. Aged in 10% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light dark cherry color in the glass. Lovely aromas of dark red cherry, plum, raspberry coulis, fruit leather and spice. Juicy and fresh with bright flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with fine grain tannins and complimentary oak in the background. Admirable balance and easy approachability. Still satisfying the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. Reviewed March 16, 2015 ARTICLE »
2012 Weatherborne Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 225 cases, $35, screwcap. Sourced from John Sebastiano and Melville vineyards. Inaugural release. 25% whole cluster. Aged in neutral oak barrels. · Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Well-spiced dark fruits are featured on the nose that also sports a touch of herbs and oak. Slightly richer than the 2013 bottling, featuring black cherry, black raspberry, anise and savory herb flavors with a noticeable oak overlay. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had become highly aromatic with scents of cherry, rose, spice, herbs and smoke with a flavorful cherry core overlaid with smoky oak. Score: 90. Reviewed March 16, 2015 ARTICLE »