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Walt and Joan Flowers were nursery owners (Moon Nursery) in Pennsylvania who made frequent trips to Oregon and California to obtain nursery stock and pursue their rising interest in wine, especially Pinot Noir. In 1989, they purchased 327 acres high above the Pacific Ocean on the northern Sonoma Coast in Cazadero. At the time, only Hirsch and Bohan were in the desolate region. They eventually planted 33 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the property's ridge top at elevations of 1150' to 1400' beginning in 1991, matching rootstocks to soil types. The site turned out to be warm enough to ripen grapes yet was heavily influenced by the close proximity of the Pacific Ocean (2 miles away) which provided cool morning fog below the ridge top and afternoon cooling breezes. The ridge was named Camp Meeting Ridge after the Pomo Indians who camped in the area in the summer and later settlers camped there for religious retreats.
In 1997, a gravity-flow winery was built on the property specifically for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1998, an additional 327 acres was bought and named Flowers Ranch. This property, like Camp Meeting Ridge, was less than two miles from the Pacific Ocean, but it had two ridges with elevations of 1400' to 1875'. 47 acres of Pinot Noir were planted from 1998-2001. Two vineyards were designated within Flowers Ranch, the 25-acre Frances Thompson Vineyard and the 22-acre Sea View Ridge Vineyard. The winery was expanded in 2003. Today, 648 total acres are owned, of which 77 acres are under vine.
Flowers Vineyard & Winery is now one of three bonded wineries in the northern Sonoma Coast. Neighboring vineyards include Hirsch, Marcassin, Bohan, Charles, Hellenthal, Nobles, Blue Slide Ridge (Martinelli), Failla and Pahlmeyer, all of which are in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA.
The Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is the workhorse of the winery and is consistently a fine representation of the true Sonoma Coast viticulture area. A number of other estate cuvee and vineyard-designate bottlings are now produced, with Andreen-Gale, Moon Select, Camp Meeting Ridge, Frances Thompson, and Sea View Ridge being the most recognizable.
There have been a number of talented winemakers at Flowers who have gone on to distinguish themselves at other wineries or through their own labels. These include, Steve Kistler, Greg La Follette (Jim Ball Vineyards, Tandem, Londer, De Loach), Hugh Chapelle (Lynmar), and Ross Cobb (Cobb Wines). Darrin Low arrived in 2008 and was replaced by Jason Jardine, formerly of Rhys Vineyards, in 2010. David Keatley, who joined Flowers in 2008, became head winemaker in 2014. The viticulturist is Larry Bradley (since the early 1990s). Production is about 3,000 cases per year of estate grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In January, 2009, it was announced that Huneeus Vintners, the wine company owned by the Huneeus family and owners of Quintessa Vineyards in the Napa Valley, had bought a substantial interest in Flowers. Tom Hinde, Flower's president since 2006, was retained to maintain consistency. Joan and Walt Flowers retired from their project.
Flowers wines are sold almost exclusively through a mailing list with decent retail distribution of the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and limited distribution of other bottlings. Tours and tasting are by appointment for those adventurous enough to make the trek to the winery outpost in Cazadero (avoid winter months as the area has heavy rain and roads are dangerous). Driving up Highway 1 from Bodega Bay there are stunning seashore vistas scant yards to the left, and sometimes the driver is forced to slow to 5 miles an hour behind farm trucks. Once you turn off on Meyers Grade Road, the fun really starts. You climb up and up to 1,500 feet above sea level, twisting and turning beside steep, plunging forested ravines, before entering the gate to Camp Meeting Ridge. 707-847-3661.
A tasting room was opened in Healdsburg, the "House of Flowers." Guests have a dedicated host to guide them through the estate wines that are presented with locally sourced food pairings ($55).
2012 Flowers Vineyard & Winery Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.91, TA 0.65. $85. Organic and biodynamically farmed vineyard at elevations of 1,150 to 1,400 feet with schist and shale soils. Swan, Pommard, 114, 115 and Wädenswil 2A. 20% whole cluster.. Yields 2.4 tons per acre. 20% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in 20% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of dark cherry sauce, sous-bois, and wood spice. Modest in weight with a core of spicy red fruits include red grape. Polished with fine grain tannins and a welcome accent of toasty oak. The finish impresses with persistent fruit fragrance and bright acidity. This wine seduces rather than attacks with power. Score: 92. Reviewed November 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2011 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., pH 3.60. 1150-1400 feet elevation, northeast aspect, 5-37% slope, Swan, Pommard, 114,115 and 2A clones, 3309 rootstock, tight 3.33 x 3.33 spacing, Hugo Atwell Complex soils. Average Brix 21.7º, 25% whole cluster, aged 15 months in 25% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with dark red fruits and spice. Very flavorful and savory with good acidity appealing texture and impeccable balance. An exceptional wine that is still young. Reviewed August 14, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Flowers Sea View Ridge Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 300 cases, $65. Estate grown and bottled. Clones 777, “828,” 115, Pommard, Calera and Swan planted in schist, shale, basalt and sandstone at 1400 to 1800 feet elevation. Yield 1.7 tons per acre. 10% whole cluster. Aged 15 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Very delicate but pleasant aromas of black cherry syrup, rose petal and spice. Tasty mid weight mix of dark red cherries and berries, elegantly composed with a welcome lift from lively mineral-driven acidity on the finish. Silky and soft in the mouth with modest tannins. Very well crafted with admirable harmony and finishing grace. Score: 91. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 300 cases, $70. Estate grown and bottled. Blocks 2, 13-17. Swan, Pommard, 114, 115 and 2A clones. Planted at 1400 feet in schist and shale soils. Yields 1.67 tons per acre. 25% whole cluster fermentation in 2-ton wooden fermenters. Aged 15 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The aromas veer to the lean side with notes of red cherry, cranberry, dried green herbs, and toasty oak. Light and delicate, even a bit austere, with demure flavors of red raspberry, red cherry, and strawberry. A green thread runs through the background. A pleasant, lacy wine which is easy to drink but is lacking in fruit ripeness. Score: 88. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Vineyard Block 11 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.0% alc., 42 cases, $75. Estate grown and bottled. Calera clone planted in schist and shale soils. Yields 1.25 tons per acre. 100% whole cluster · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose features dark red cherry and berry fruits with a green vegetal scent in the background. Moderately rich dark red and purple fruits with a hint of grilled Shitake mushroom and green herbs. The wine has bright underlying acidity and a rush of tannins on the cherry flavored finish. The tannins were still daunting one and two days after opening a bottle. Give this wine several years in the cellar for the tannins to soften and integrate, but I am afraid this will always be a tannic wine and the whole cluster induced greenness will never fade completely. Score: 86. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Vineyard Block 16 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.2% alc., 77 cases, $75. Estate grown and bottled. Wädenswil 1A clone planted in schist and shale soils. Yield 2.43 tons per acre. 100% whole cluster fermented in new 2-ton wood fermenters. Aged 17 months in one and two-year-old French oak barrels. · An intriguing wine with considerable nuance. Aromas of wild berries, whole cluster spice, wet fur and a little funky sous-bois. Welcome fullness on the palate with a very smooth mouth feel. Middleweight flavors of dark red cherries and raspberries and an earthy flora undertone are featured. The tannins are more tame in this wine which was very supple in the mouth and highly flavorful two days after opening the bottle. Hold this wine in your cellar for at least three years or decant a day ahead of time if you must drink it now. Score: 91. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Sea Ridge Vineyard Block 11 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 140 cases. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy nose offering delicate aromas of plum and oak. Discreetly concentrated core of well-spiced and oak-kissed plum and black raspberry fruits clothed in fuzzy tannins. A saline character underlies this wine. Velvety on the palate with a succulent finish. Outstanding. Reviewed July 21, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.7% alc., $40. · Light straw color in the glass. Very nice aromatic expression showing scents of white peach, lemon curd, and bear claw pastry. Fresh tasting flavors of green apple and brioche with a lemon peel driven and lively finish. Seamless and a solid food wine. Good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $45. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of boysenberries, fruit punch, spice and violets. Darker berry flavors are featured on a middleweight frame, with accents of Asian 5-spice and cola. Juicy and crisp, with impressive fruit purity. Highly approachable with supple tannins. Even better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with more striking cherry character. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Sea Ridge Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $65. Heritage, 777, 825 and 115 clones planted in schist, shale, basalt and sandstone soil. 1400 to 1800 feet elevation. Yields 1.91 tons per acre. 5% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddishpurple color in the glass. Shy aromas of raspberries and cranberries with a hint of briar. Dark red fruits are featured in a modest weight wine with balanced tannins, a sleek, smooth texture, and some generous fruit length on the finish. Very nicely crafted and rather sophisticated. Very good. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $70. Calera, Swan, Dijon, Wädenswil and Pommard clones. Schist, shale and sandstone soils. 1200 to 1400 feet elevation. Yields 1.89 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 16 months in 57% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Clean aromas of black cherries, black raspberries, dark strawberries, clove spice and smoky oak. The flavors replicate the aromas in a middleweight offering that has balanced tannins, and an appealingly soft and smooth mouth feel. Picks up interest over time in the glass. Good (+). Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.5% alc., $70. An estate vineyard situated at 1200 to 1400 feet elevation, planted to Hyde, Old Wente and Dijon 95 clones. Yields of 1.25 tons per acre. Barrel fermented in 64% new French oak barrels for 14 months. · Moderate straw color in the glass. Alluring aromas of baked pear, roasted nuts, crème brûlée and milk chocolate. Plenty of flavor intensity including juicy lemon and apple with hints of buttered brioche and sweet oak. An exceptional wine with very slight dry tannins, lively acidity, and an appealing lemon drop finish. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Camp Meeting Ridge Estate Vineyard Block 11 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $75. 1.16- acre block at 1400 feet elevation. Schist and shale soil. Calera selection. Yields 2.21 tons per acre. Aged 17 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Muted aromas of darker red berries. A solid offering with well-ripened dark red raspberry and cherry flavors, elevated by good acidity and framed by ripe tannins. Nothing really stands out, but drinks nicely. Should benefit from more time in the cellar. Good. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Sea View Ridge Estate Vineyard Block 20 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $75. 1.55-acre block at 1700 feet elevation. Shallow volcanic clay loam over basalt, schist and shale soil. Clone 777. Yields 2.38 tons per acre. Aged 17 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Penetrating, enthralling aromas of perfectly ripe black cherries and black raspberries. Luscious flavors of black cherry cola, griottes kirsch, and dark berries, modest dry tannins, bright acidity and a velvety mouth feel. I like this for its balance, texture and fruit persistence on the finish. A regal wine. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Sea View Ridge Estate Vineyard Block 21 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $75. 1.15- acre block at 1400 feet elevation. Shallow clay loam over sandstone soil. Clone 777 and Swan selection. Yields 2.15 tons per acre. Aged 17 months in 16% new French oak barrels. · Light reddish color in the glass. Intense aromas of cherries. The lightest and most red-fruited of the Flowers Pinot Noirs in this vintage. Wellnuanced flavors of cherry hard candy, Asian 5-spice and pine tar. Beautifully crafted with gentle tannins and vivid underlying acidity. Has a unique chalky undertone. Very good. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Flowers Moon Select Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $80. 40% Sea View Ridge and 60% Camp Meeting Ridge vineyards. Swan, Calera, 777, “828,” and heritage selections. Yields 1.97 tons per acre. 40% whole cluster. Aged 17 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers interesting aromas of rose petal and tea leaf from the whole cluster as well as an explosion of black cherry fruit. On lighter side with a good cut of underlying acidity, but quite pleasing to the palate with an array of flavors including dark cherries and plums, boysenberries, spice and edible flower. Nicely balanced tannins and well integrated oak. This wine has great interest from an array of contributing clones and the significant whole cluster. Very good (+). Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »
2007 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.4% alc.. · Lightly colored with red tones. Scents of strawberries, cherries, baking spices and a hint of oak char. On the lean side with redder fruits set off by an appealing minerality and grassiness. The tannins are reigned in and the hi-strung finish features tart cherry and cranberry flavors. Considering the vintage and the reputation of this superb winery, this wine is a bit disappointing. Nevertheless it is Good. Reviewed April 8, 2010 ARTICLE »
2005 Flowers Andreen Gayle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $50. · A rich core of black raspberry, black current and black cherry fruit with an appealing earthy and gamy aspect. Restrained, sleek and seductive with defining acidity that makes this wine a perfect dining companion. Match this with cassoulet and you will be on your knees. Reviewed October 1, 2008 ARTICLE »