Clary Ranch

Owner(s) Paul Clary
Web site
Link to this site

Paul Clary’s agricultural background is in walnuts, but he has been able to transition to grape growing and winemaking quite nicely, albeit with a number of struggles. He grew up helping his grandparents farm their walnut orchard in El Dorado County. While attending University of California Davis, he majored in Biological Sciences, with an emphasis in Botany. He never actually ventured into viticulture or enology classes while there. In later years, when he decided to embark on his winegrowing adventure, he felt it a was a natural choice for him since a vineyard is something of an orchard in miniature.

He purchased an old dairy ranch in the “Sonoma-Marin” area, at the headwaters to Chileno Creek about 11 miles east of Tomales Bay, and began the job of restoring the land.

He decided to plant Pinot Noir and Syrah with the advice of his cousin, Mark Bailey, who has been a vineyard manager in Sonoma County since the early 1970s. A total of 15 acres were planted.

Following his plantings, he enrolled in a University of California Davis winemaking extension course and was on his way. He offered his initial wines to potential buyers to taste, but poured them nervously, asking the buyers to “look past novice winemaking errors and try to taste the grapes.” Fortunately he found buyers for the grapes. He entered his wines into the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and his Pinot Noir won a Silver Medal and Syrah a Gold Medal and was in contention for Best Red Wine!

A number of years passed and Paul continued to sell the bulk of his grapes, making a small amount of garage wine. He suffered through a divorce, but managed to keep his four kids on track. By the end of the 2004 growing season, he had more grapes than buyers and decided to make a commercial Pinot Noir. He crafted the wine at Topolos Winery in Forestville. This was a true hands-on effort as he had little help available. He bottled the wine in a pouring rain after it spent 14 months in 50% new French oak. The 2004 Clary Ranch Grower’s Reserve Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was finally released in August of 2006. I tasted it at Pinot Days in San Francisco in June of last year and was impressed. So was the Wine Spectator, which awarded it a 91 score. Call it beginner’s luck if you will, but the fact is Paul had nurtured a vineyard for years in what turned out to be an ideal location for Pinot Noir, and the resulting high quality of grapes gave him the raw material for success.

Clary Ranch Pinot Noir and Syrah can be purchased on the website or by phoning Paul at 707-773-3884. The wines are also placed in a number of top Bay Area restaurants. The ranch is located at 3641 Middle Two Rock Rd., Petaluma, CA 94952.

Reviewed Wines

2008 Clary Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 187 cases, $39.50. From an estate vineyard in the Petaluma Gap. Clones are Pommard 4, 667. Yields 1.4 tons per acre. Aged 30 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black fruits, leaf, eucalyptus, leather and oak. Big-boned flavors of black plum, blackberry, black currants and sassafras with an evident oak presence contributing a tarry note. The oak influence tends to recede over time in the glass and is less noticeable the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, but the significant time in a high percentage of new oak has left its imprint. Good. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Clary Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $40. From an estate vineyard located in the western reaches of the Petaluma Gap. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red fruits, wine cellar and oak. Flavors of earth-kissed black cherries and berries, tar and oak, with a hint of citrus on the crisp finish. A little less ripe and extracted than previous vintages I remember, but more transparent. Good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2005 Clary Ranch Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

$50. Paul Clary farms a 15-acre vineyard at the headwaters to Chileno Creek in the hills of Petaluma and produces one Pinot Noir. · The 2004 vintage was quite good and well received in the wine press. The 2005 is even better with more elegance, less heft and ripeness, and softer tannins. It is drinking beautifully now. Reviewed July 7, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Clary Ranch Grower’s Reserve Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 150 cases, $50. · This wine has really mellowed since I tasted it last year. It is stacked and packed with fruit, but the tannins have softened and the texture is marshmallow soft. Reviewed July 30, 2007 ARTICLE »

2004 Clary Ranch Grower’s Reserve Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 150 cases, $50. · This Pinot is made in the full-bodied style so popular in California. I tasted the wine briefly at the recent Pinot Days Festival. The winemaker’s notes are probably most helpful: Aromatic, complex, and intense, with a luscious long-lasting finish. Dark and concentrated, yet well-balanced, with good acidity and a healthy tannic backbone. Reviewed January 15, 2007 ARTICLE »

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