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|Owner(s)||Brice Cutrer Jones|
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Emeritus Vineyards is a new project spearheaded by Brice Cutrer Jones, the previous owner of Sonoma-Cutrer. Jones is a passionate Pinot Noir lover who is known in the Russian River Valley for his unending devotion to charity work. He was one of the founders of the Hospices de Sonoma.
About ten years ago he purchased 180 acres along Highway 116 just two miles north of Sebastopol. This was the culmination of a five year search for a cool, well-drained hillside property. Located on the Gold Ridge which runs from Sebastopol through the company’s vineyard and continues eight miles further north to Forestville, the ridge gives its name to the soils of the area which are sandy and well-drained. Some of the most prestigious Pinot Noirs in California are produced in this area.
120 acres are planted at Hallberg Ranch primarily to Pinot Noir, including Pommard and Dijon clones 115, 777, and 828. The vineyard is oriented toward the southwest on gentle slopes, giving the vines optimum exposure. The densely-planted vines are kept cool during the day by the gentle breezes that flow from the Pacific Ocean during the summer, and then cooled at night by the fog which appears almost daily in the early morning. Sustainable and dry farming is practiced under the direction of viticulturist Kirk Lokka to yield grapes that achieve full ripeness without excessive sugars and extracted flavors.
Emeritus Vineyards also owns two small parcels in the true Sonoma coast near Annapolis at an elevation of 900 feet. Named the William Wesley Vineyard, this site offers a different flavor and texture expression of Pinot Noir than the home ranch vineyard. A Hallberg Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir is also produced which is aimed at the restaurant business. The William Wesley Vineyard bottling has been the primary wine sold to mailing list customers.
The first winemaker was veteran Don Blackburn who passed away in 2009. His replacement was Nicholas Cantacuzene. In June 2017, it was announced the appointment of David Lattin as winemaker. Lattin brings 32 vintages of winemaking experience to his role at Emeritus, that includes a 15-year tenure as winemaker for Kuleto Estate.
A tasting room on the Hallberg Ranch property is open with and without appointment daily. Check the website for hours. Tours of the vineyard and winery are available by appointment.
2016 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $44. This wine represents the diversity of the Hallberg Ranch. A blend of about 40 individual lots of Hallberg Pinot Noir. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 32% new. Estate grown, produced and bottled. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. A heavy imprint of oak is evident on the nose that offers aromas of toast, savory spices, black cherry and clay. A middleweight plus style with layers of blackberry and black current fruit. Lush in texture with good structure, but there is a stemmy thread in the background and the wine could use more energy. Score: 89. Reviewed June 19, 2019 ARTICLE »
2016 Emeritus Pinot Hill East Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 300 cases, $75. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Pinot Hill East is a significantly cooler east side of the vineyard. · Pleasing aromas of black cherry, blueberry, savory herbs and balsam. Similar to the Pinot Hill West bottling but more appealing aromatics. Mid weight in style and quite earthy in tone, with an array of black fruits. Sleek in the mouth with modest tannins and a modest finish. Like the Pinot Hill East botttling, this wine also displays a taste of guaiacol. I have found this flavor in certain vineyards such as Hansen and Bucher in the Russian River Valley and not everyone finds it unpleasant. Score: 90. Reviewed June 19, 2019 ARTICLE »
2016 Emeritus Pinot Hill West Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 225 cases, $75. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 42% new. The west side receives more afternoon sun producing more overt fruit flavors. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of burnt tobacco, rose petal and black cherry. A mid weight style, with oak-infused and ostentatious purple and black fruits. Quite earthy with a noticeable taste of guaiacol. Unchanged when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89. Reviewed June 19, 2019 ARTICLE »
2016 Emeritus Wesley’s Reserve Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 450 cases, $75. This debut vintage is made exclusively from a selection of the prized center blocks of Hallberg Ranch, an area that yields the vineyard’s most robust and dark-fruited wines. Wesley’s Reserve is named after Brice’s father, William Wesley Jones, a former Air Force Colonel. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry vanilla cola and savory herbs come to the fore. A flood of blackest cherry, blackberry and Hoison flavors are framed by a healthy tannic backbone that keeps the generous fruit in balance. The wine saturates the mid palate and carries over to a boisterous finish of deep purple and black fruited goodness. Score: 92. Reviewed June 19, 2019 ARTICLE »
2015 Emeritus Vineyards Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $44. Soils here are Goldridge sandy loam. Multiple clones are planted over 107.76 acres, including 4, 5, 115, 459, 667, 777, “828,” Cruz, Elite and Hyde. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. This wine takes awhile to open and my comments are based on sampling the wine after the bottle had been opened several hours. Aromas of purple berries, spice and floral esters. An array of fruits great the palate including dark red cherry, raspberry and boysenberry arrayed in a mid weight style. Satiny in texture with modest tannins and bright acidity on the succulent yet uplifting finish. Great harmony at play here. Score: 93. Reviewed June 29, 2018 ARTICLE »
2009 Emeritus Vineyards Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $47. Hallberg Ranch is the home ranch of Emeritus Vineyards lying along the 10-mile Gold Ridge running from Sebastopol to Forestville in the Russian River Valley. Nicolas Cantazcuzene is the winemaker. · Moderately dark reddishpurple color in the glass. Very muted nose initially, opening slowly to reveal delicate aromas of dark berries and plum with oak cask and stem in the background. Soft and smooth on entry, with moderately full-bodied flavors of cassis and black plums underlain with firm, mature tannins. Rather linear now, but enough pleasing fruit to suggest future potential. Good (+) now, but may warrant a higher recommendation in a few years. Very popular in the restaurant marketplace. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2006 Emeritus William Wesley Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $45. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. A fruity nose displaying scents of dried cherries, grape jam and barnyard. Tasty wild berry and black cherry compote wrapped in firm tannins finishing with an aromatic and fruity finish of impressive length. With lively acidity and good harmony, this Pinot will age beautifully. A wine to partner with hearty food. Very good. Reviewed February 15, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Emeritus William Wesley Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $50. Aged in 30% new French oak. · Patience is the word here. If you drink the wine now, decant it or swirl vigorously in the glass. Reserved, but pleasant earth-dusted black cherries, violets and wine cellar scents. Brimming with dark berry fruit that is toned with musk and cola. Well-integrated oak, silk and satin on the palate, and finishing with mild ripe, dry tannins. Beautifully crafted with great potential, but this wine has a ways to go before it completely reveals itself. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Emeritus Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$32 · The aromatics are captivating, featuring Bing cherry, herbs, and roses. Complex flavors of cherries, wild strawberries, spice and cola are powerful yet demure leading to a mouth-coating finish. Superb in every way. Reviewed April 24, 2007 ARTICLE »
2005 Emeritus Vineyards William Wesley Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
$50 · Intense nose of earthy fruits leads to a well-structured wine brimming with wild berries and dark cherries. Raspberries arrive with a rush on an exceptionally long finish. Unresolved tannins indicate a wine for the long haul . Patience will be rewarded. Reviewed April 24, 2007 ARTICLE »