Castle Rock Winery

Owner(s) Chris Noble, Greg Popovich
Web site
Link to this site

Castle Rock Winery is a virtual negotiant winery crushing in multiple leased facilities and has no vineyards. The majority of the wine is sourced from long-term contracts that draw on fruit from California (Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Alexander Valley), Oregon (Willamette Valley) and Washington (Columbia Valley). The brand was one of the first of its kind, started in 1994, at a time when the emphasis was on premium wine labels. When the interest in Pinot Noir surged in the mid 2000s, Castle Rock had already been producing Pinot Noir, and the wave of interest brought the company considerable success.

Castle Rock Winery sells many different appellation-specific wines, most for less than $12, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir accounts for 65 percent of sales. The wines are widely distributed, and sold on the website ( Ten different Pinot Noirs are offered from the 2008-2009 vintages on the website. The name is straightforward and the packaging is simple. Greg Popovich is the founder and President and Chris Noble is his partner. The winery is run from a small suite of offices in the Palos Verdes Peninsula of California. Wine is produced in Oregon, Washington, at the Coppola facility on the Central Coast and in Napa. Castle Rock owns no wineries but leases production space from people who have excess capacity so they have low overhead. The winery is an unusual business model that only employees 11 people.

The owners want people to think of Castle Rock as the $10 bottle of wine with the quality of a bottle costing two or three times as much. Most of the Castle Rock competitors at their price point are generic California appellations.

The consulting winemaker is August “Joe” Briggs (producer of the highly regarded August Briggs label Pinot Noirs) who oversees the 600,000+ annual case production, making Castle Rock Winery the 25th largest wine company in the United States in 2010. The company expects to be a million-case brand by 2015. Briggs has overseen the entire process and made every case of Castle Rock wine going back to 1994.

Reviewed Wines

2015 Castle Rock Kristy Vineyard Reserve Monterey Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $16.95. Cellared and bottled by Castle Rock, Geyserville. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. An oak-dominated nose reminds me most of the scent of cigar. Light to mid weight black cherry, cola and spice flavors. Innocuous, with silky tannins, noticeable oak overlay and a modest cherry fueled finish. The oak treatment tends to smother the fruit. and the wine fades in appeal over time in the glass. Score: 82. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »

2012 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $10-$12. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Dark fruited on the nose with significant smoky oak overlay. Fruity and pleasant, with flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and plum. Soft in the mouth with supple tannins. An unpretentious, every day style of Pinot Noir. Score: 86. Reviewed October 6, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $9.99. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of oak-laced cherries with a hint of geranium. Decent cherry core with oak in the background. Rather bland, lacking in finishing pleasure, but drinkable. Score: 81. Reviewed December 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $9.99. · Deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of fresh berry pie, ripe black cherries and a hint of allspice. Charming core of berry and dark stone fruits with a refreshing citrus note. Smooth and silky on the palate with nicely balanced dry tannins. A relatively hearty wine that is just plain delicious. A well-crafted and incredible value wine that will match up with many Pinot Noirs costing four times as much. Very good. Reviewed February 8, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $10. · Lightly colored and weighted with very shy smoky cherry aromas and soft simple red fruits on the palate. Respectable for its elegance and softness and its loyalty to the charm of the varietal, but lacks interest and flavor punch. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »

2007 Castle Rock Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $10. · Very dark ruby color. On the nose the dark fruit is overshadowed by some fecal notes (organic) with hints of spice and stem. Tasty sweet dark fruits on the macho attack with respectable persistence on the finish. Smoothly textured with supple tannins. People will like this wine. Tastes much better than it smells. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Castle Rock Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 2,800 cases, $15. · Jolly Rancher confected cherry and cherry vanilla soda aromas with subtle oak intrusion. Medium-weighted Bing cherry and vanilla cream flavors with herbs and citric peel in the background. Full-flavored and displaying some elegance. This wine will definitely find fans Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »

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