Handley Cellars

Owner(s) Megan Handley Warren, Lulu McClellan
Web site www.handleycellars.com
Link to this site
Handley Cellars

Handley Cellars is a small family-owned winery located in the "deep end" of the Anderson Valley on the 59-acre historic Holmes Ranch with its house, barn and iconic water tower. There are 29 acres of certified organic estate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer in the Handley Estate Vineyard, with original plantings dating to 1986 and 1987. Handley also has 8 acres, named the RMS Vineyard after her late husband, Rex S. McClellan, which she planted around her house from 1999 to 2001 containing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

Owner Milla Handley has been making nicely balanced, food friendly wines since 1982. She moved to the Anderson Valley in 1978, three years after graduating from University of California at Davis with a degree in fermentation science. Her early winemaking training was with Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean and Jed Steele at Edmeades.

The Pinot Noirs are nicely weighted, not overly extracted, and fresh in character. A superb sparkling wine is also offered and the winery is well known for its Alsatian white offerings as well. Beginning in 2004, the co-winemaker was Kristen Barnhisel who holds a Master's degree in Enology from the University of California at Davis. After many years, she left and was replaced by Randy Schock.

In June 2017, Milla announced that after 40 years of winemaking she was retiring to make way for the third generation of family winemakers. Milla's daughters, Lulu McClellan and Megan Handley Warren will be co-owners of the winery. Former co-winemaker Randy Schock will be promoted to lead winemaker.

Milla passed away in August 2020. She will be remembered as the first female winemaker to open a winery in her own name in California and worked hard throughout her life to put Anderson Valley wineries on the map.

The tasting room on Highway 128 adjacent the winery is tastefully decorated with Milla's family art collection and a welcoming outdoor patio offers a pleasant respite. Can't go wrong with any of the wines here. Case production is 12,000 annually, which has been pared back from a high of 18,000 a few years back.

Reviewed Wines

2014 Handley Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 2,245 cases, $32. Released February 1, 2017. 68% Handley Estate, 17% RSM, 12% Ferrington and 3% Helluva vineyards. Gently destemmed and crushed, retaining about 40% whole berries. 3-day cold soak, proprietary yeast inoculation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and sterile filtered before bottling. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh cherry, spice and sandalwood. Easy to like, with a polish demeanor, offering a core of juicy black cherry fruit back by modest tannins. Forward and engaging with solid balance. Score: 92. Reviewed July 8, 2017 ARTICLE »

2010 Handley Cellars Estate Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.56, 98 cases, $52. Released February 2013. Martini clone. Aged 9 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A full-bodied wine with very ripe black fruit aromas and flavors that is sturdy on the palate with a moderate tug of oak in the backgrou nd. Would benefit from decanting or further time in bottle, but the potential is obvious. Very good. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 293 cases, $52. Harvest Brix 26.0º. From the 7-acre estate vineyard located 700 to 1,000 feet above the fog line. 3-day cold soak, aged 9 months in 33% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, Hoison sauce, dark chocolate, and oak. Mid to full bodied flavors of black fruits, anise, spice and dark chocolate with some oak sheen. Thoroughly satisfying with integrated tannins and a richly fruited finish. Score: 91. Reviewed July 28, 2014 ARTICLE »

2009 Handley Mendocino County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $25. 50% from Anderson Valley, both warmer Boonville end and cooler deep end, and 50% from Potter Valley. · Moderately light reddishpurple color in the glass. The aromatics jump out when the cork is removed, showing bright and pleasing scents of fresh black cherries, strawberries, sandalwood and dried fruit. Juicy and easy to drink, with tasty flavors of dark red cherries and berries, spice, pine needles, and cherry cola, all wrapped in very supple tannins. An unexpected surprise for an entry level wine that really satisfies. Very good. Reviewed February 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc. pH 3.68, TA 0.53, 266 cases, $52. Released May 2011. From an exceptional vintage. The vineyard was planted in 2000 to primarily clone 115. 100% de-stemmed, 40% whole berry fermentation, inoculated with Rockpile yeast isolate to enhance mineral flavors association with the unique vineyard. Aged on the lees for 10 months in 37% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color and slight haze in the glass. Striking aromas of black cherries, dark red berry preserves, toffee and toast. Delicious medium-weight core of perfectly ripe black cherries, black raspberries and mocha java. Silky smooth on the palate with a big fruit-laden aromatic finish that lingers. Oakdriven features will integrate over time. A first-rate wine of uncommon charm that is terrific now and will age gracefully. Plan a dinner around this wine in another year or two. The star of this tasting. Very good (+). Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.53, 266 cases, $52, released May 1, 2011. 100% de-stemmed, retention of about 40% whole berries during the process to encourage the fruitier flavors that occur with carbonic maceration. Rockpile yeast isolate used for fermentation to enhance the mineral flavors typical of this vineyard. Aged on the lees 10 months in 37% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries, black raspberries, brioche and spice. Impressively rich mid palate attack of darker cherries and berries with complimentary notes of mocha and coffee from oak. Should age nicely. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2007 Handley Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.55, 4,029 cases, $30. Released in the fall 2009. Multiple vineyard sources (35% Estate Martini clone) throughout the Anderson Valley with 10% Potter Valley fruit. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Subdued but pleasing scent of ripe berry jam. Silky textured core of black cherry and berry fruit with a hint of savory herbs. A lively grip of acidity on the finish makes you yearn for another sip. Good, and a solid value. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Handley Cellars Handley Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay

15.0% alc., 1,510 cases, $20. The vineyard is located at the cooler end of the Dry Creek Valley and benefits from coastal fog influence in the mornings. Temperatures were higher than normal in July, 2006, accounting for the higher sugars and resulting alcohol. 65% of the wine was fermented and aged in French oak barrels (18% new); 35% was stainless steel fermented before it was racked to French oak barrels and puncheons. The wine spent six months in oak before bottling. 35% of the blend finished MLF. · I am particularly partial to this style of Chardonnay. The nose offers leesy, butter, peach and lemon peel aromas. On the palate the wine is creamy and fruity with plenty of stone fruit extract. Beautifully balanced with acid under control and a long finish with no alcohol in site. Delicious. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay

12.8% alc., 1,934 cases, $22. Ample leaf canopy protected the Chardonnay clusters from the July heat and they ripened fully during moderate weather in August and September. Fruit was carefully dropped and sorted to ensure quality. The wine received a balanced oak regime, fermenting and aging in a combination of new and neutral barrels and puncheons. The wine was aged sur lie for 3 months. 32% of the wine completed MLF. · A bit more apparent acidity and austerity than the above Chardonnay, in part due to lower alcohol.. Equally attractive aromas and flavors of green apples, pears, peaches, almonds, and oak with a citrus bent. The texture is edgy and the finish is refreshingly crisp. Beautifully balanced and a treat to drink. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Handley Cellars Handley Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Syrah

14.5% alc., 570 cases, $25. · Deep, dark purple color. Penetrating perfume of brambly and earth dusted crushed black fruits. Thick with potent black raspberry and blackberry fruit with moderate fine-grained tannins. Needs substantial food. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 4,062 cases, $30. Sourced from several vineyards include Handley Estate (33%), Ferrington (15%), Charles (11%), Helluva (11%), Corby (8%), Romani (8%) and others (14%). The grapes were cold soaked for two days after crushing. Several different yeasts were utilized for fermentation causing variation in fermentation rate among the different lots. The grapes were then pressed, allowed to settle a few days in tank, and racked to French oak barrels, 29% of which were new. The wine was aged 9 months in barrel, with lees stirring, until MLF was completed. · This is still a very young wine and I have experienced some bottle variation at this stage. This particular bottle was fine. Alluring aromas of cherry, baking spices, and sage. Light and easy to drink, the red fruits are juicy with good grip. Soft and pillowy with gossamer tannins. A reliable drinker that won’t disappoint. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Handley Cellars Holmes Ranch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 715 cases, $40. 46% Romani Vineyard, 37% RSM Vineyard, 15% Handley Estate and 2% other. 100% de-stemmed, lightly crushed, 40% whole berries, lightly pressed, inoculated fermentations, aged 9 months in 39% new French oak barrels. · Charming aromas of cherries, berries and tea leaves. Moderately rich fresh berry flavors with a hint of mocha and clove, soft tannins and a refreshingly dry finish. A perfect wine for the dinner table. Reviewed June 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Handley Cellars Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

(115, 667, Pommard). · Spearmint is prominent in the perfume. Showy red fruit, plenty of energy, and healthy tannin. Reviewed March 23, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Handley Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $28. · Mocha, cherry, and cinnamon aromas and flavors in a well-composed package. The finish is crisp with herbal and oak overtones. Reviewed June 3, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 4,062 cases, $28. A blend of multiple vineyards including Handley Estate, Ferrington, Charles, Helluva, Corby, and Romani. Aged 9 months in 29% new French oak. · Dark cherry driven with sandalwood, earth, and dark chocolate highlights. Quite tasty and easy to like. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

A perfect expression of Anderson Valley. Perfumed with spiced cherries, anchored by a solid core of red and blue fruits, and ending with brisk acidity and pleasing persistence. This wine offers really easy drinking. Gold Medal, Orange County Fair Wine Competition. Reviewed July 30, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

100 cases, $52. The first vineyard-designate wine from Milla Handley from her home RSM Vineyard named after her late husband. Clones are Pommard, 115 and 667. · This is a very rich and exotic Pinot Noir that defies adequate description. Firm and medium structured with full flavors. Black cherries, game, mocha, and tea flavors make an appearance. Built for aging and contemplation. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Handley Cellars Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

(Martini, Champagne clone 32). · Very appealing cherry notes on the entry. Delicate spiced berry flavors with fine tannins. Reviewed March 23, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Handley Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $52. · This wine is the epitome of softness, grace and elegance, what Mille refers to as “authentic Pinot.” It is red fruit driven with flavors of cherries and cranberries along with herbal notes, a touch of oak, and a little funk. Reviewed June 3, 2007 ARTICLE »

2004 Handley Cellars Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $52. · This is a wine of great interest. It starts off with black fruits, savory herbs, plenty of barnyard and some oak aromas. In the mouth it is earthy and primal with deep, dark fruit. Beautifully crafted, the wine offers a velvety texture and reigned-in tannins. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. Pure Pinot pleasure. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »

2003 Handley Cellar Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Brut Rosé

$36. · A medal-winning sparkling wine with a lovely dark pink hue, fine bead, tangy strawberry and raspberry flavors with a touch of lemon peel and bracing acidity on a refreshing finish. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »

1998 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

This wine was opened in both 750 ml and magnum format at the Open House on Sunday as part of the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. · The wine was still fresh with bright garnet color from both formats. Elegant and silky red fruits with no discernible tannins from the standard bottle. The Pinot Noir from the magnum format had more fruit intensity on the mid-palate with more retained structural tannins. Both wines were fine, but clearly the magnum wine was preferred and will age for a longer time. Reviewed June 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

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