Esterlina Vineyards & Winery

Owner(s) Eric Flanagan
Web site
Link to this site

The original Esterlina estate Pinot Noir vineyard sat on a ridge commanding a sweeping view of the Anderson Valley. This property, the site of the former Pepperwood Springs Winery, was purchased by the Sterling family in 2000, and renamed Esterlina (the Spanish word for 'sterling').

Esterlina is a tight-knit family operation under the direction of father Murio and his sons. The sons' father was a cattle rancher in California's Central Valley, and their grandfather farmed vegetables in Louisiana. All three sons attended college "to get away from farming." However, when Murio retired, he started growing grapes for wineries on a property he bought in 1994 in the Alexander Valley. The family slowly diversified their vineyard holdings to include the Russian River Valley, Mendocino and Healdsburg. After many years of being growers and home winemakers, they started their own boutique winery, Esterlina. It is the largest African-American-owned family winery in the nation.

Gradually, the four sons came back to work in the family wine business, becoming one of a small number of African-American-owned wineries in the United States. The family controls 175 acres planted to multiple grape varieties. The wines have been served at the White House on several occasions, and won many prestigious awards in wine competitions.

In 2006, the Sterling bought Everett Ridge Winery in Dry Creek Valley that consists of both vineyards and a modern winemaking facility. In 2013, the Esterlina Anderson Valley property was put up for sale with the intention of moving all wine production to the Everett Ridge facility.

Eric Sterling, M.D., is both a practicing emergency room physician and the winemaker and has an impressive touch with Pinot Noir. He is the only son to retain his occupation outside the family's wine business.

Esterlina wines are sold on the website. Besides the Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, the Cole Ranch Riesling and Pinot Noir (from California's smallest AVA which is owned by the Sterlings are outstanding. Production in 2012 was about 12,000 cases.

The Everett Ridge Winery tasting room on West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg is open daily.

In 2015-2016, the Sterlings were embroiled in a lawsuit with Bank of the West over discriminatory loans secured by high interest rates and were at risk of losing both Everett Ridge and Esterlina wineries. Eric Flanagan, owner of Flanagan Wines bought the Esterlina winery property with a $5.2 million loan that was announced in June 2016.

Reviewed Wines

2010 Esterlina Cole Ranch Reserva Cole Ranch Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $N/A. · Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Fresh aromas of brown sugar dusted ripe strawberries and an array of other red fruits. Moderately light in concentration, but plenty of charm and elegance. Juicy, with supple tannins and a persistent, fruit-filled, electric finish. Cause for celebration. Reviewed June 4, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Esterlina Esterlina Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $N/A. · Light reddishpurple color in the glass. Aromas of oak-kissed red fruits including strawberries with hints of cedar. Moderately light on the palate, yet noticeable staying power on the long finish. Delicious over time in the glass offering flavors of red and blue berries, baking spice, and subtle oak. Easy to like and very giving. Very good. Reviewed June 4, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Esterlina Cole Ranch Reserve Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., prerelease. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. The aromatic profile is similar to the 2008 vintage of this wine but more reserved. Aromas of spiced black cherries and blackberries. Lovely mid palate array of fruit including black cherries and black raspberries with hints of spice and vanilla. Silky and crisp with restrained tannins and a welcoming acid lift on the fruit-filled finish. I kept coming back to this wine. Still a youngster, but already spectacular. Source: website and wine club. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Esterlina Cole Ranch Reserva Mendocino Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $65. At 189 acres, Cole Ranch is the nation’s smallest AVA. Located between Anderson Valley and Ukiah off Highway 253. · Medium reddishpurple color in the glass. Slightly confected aromas of black raspberries and pie cherries. Waves of mid weight dark stone fruits and berries unfold on the palate with accents of oak, cola and brown spice. Balanced fine-grain tannins, bright acidity and some length on the fruit-driven finish. A very ripely fruited style. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Esterlina Esterlina Estate Vineyard Reserva Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $65. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Ripe fruit profile featuring blackberry and boysenberry aromas with a hint of oak. Opens beautifully over time in the glass, building gradually in intensity and interest. Flavors of dark red cherries and berries and plum with accents of black tea and cola. Despite its concentration of fruit, the wine retains a refreshing character and is light on its feet. Mild fine-grain tannins add to the appeal. Decant if you open now, but patience will be rewarded. Reviewed June 4, 2013 ARTICLE »

2008 Esterlina Cole Ranch Reserve Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pre-release. From California’s smallest appellation (253 acres) owned by the Sterling Family, proprietors of Esterlina. The appellation is located west of Ukian on Highway 253 within the Mendocino appellation. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Terrific aromas of spicy black cherry, black raspberry and rose petal. Beautiful dark berry fruit accented by notes of earth, cola and oak. Plenty of fine-grain tannins nicely support the hearty fruit core. Picks up intensity over time in the glass. A very classy wine that should improve in the cellar. Source: website. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Esterlina Cole Ranch Reserva Mendocino Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $65. · Moderately dark reddishpurple color in the glass. Pungent, green, vegetal aromas. The fruit is very dull and stripped on the palate and clearly smoke tainted. The balance is heavily weighted toward tannin. Unsatisfactory. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2007 Esterlina Vineyards Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 613 cases, $45. Released May 2009. Average Brix at harvest was 24.2º. Whole berries dumped into open-top fermenters, punched down by hand, drained by gravity to barrel, remaining must basket pressed. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color. The appealing aromas of fresh strawberries and cherries and spices really draw you in and carry over to the focused flavors. Plenty of vim and vigor with perfectly balanced t n‘ a. A soft and creamy texture adds to the pleasure. Reviewed May 26, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Esterlina Vineyards Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.56, 611 cases, $45. Released in spring 2009. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · This beauty keeps opening and opening in the glass revealing a nuanced perfume of ripe strawberries, black raspberries, spice box and the faintest oak. Very tasty berry jam core veering to the red spectrum that drifts away on the finish with a whisper of persistent pheromone-inspired perfume. This wine could launch a very intimate evening among amorous adults. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Esterlina Reserva Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

This one is still a baby and won’t be released until the Fall. It is going to be quite memorable. Grab some for your cellar when it is available. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Esterlina Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 611 cases, $45. 16 months cooperage in 40% new oak. Unracked, whole berry. · The nose is enchanting featuring plenty of cherry and spicy oak perfume. Silky in the mouth, with a panoply of red berry and stone fruits and a memorable finish. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Esterlina Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 611 cases, $45. · Noticeably confected cherry and cotton candy aromas with accents of roses and new-sawn oak. Delicious and caressing in the mouth, enveloping the tongue with rich spiced black cherry and black raspberry fruit. A little woodsy, shroom flavor adds interest. Beautifully balanced with silky tannins and a clean finish that lingers. Love to spend the evening with this one. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »

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