Recognized as a separate American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1983 because of its shallow, well-drained soils and marine-influenced climate, Carneros is considered Napa Valley's best growing area for Pinot Noir. Late afternoon marine fog creeps up from the Bay, even in the middle of summer, so nights and mornings are cool and the grapes' natural acids are preserved, balancing the ripe fruit flavors that develop during sunny, warm days.
Laurie Hook chose to ferment most of the small lots of the gently destemmed Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir grapes in open-top fermenters, using a combination of cap punch-downs and juice pump-overs to retain the delicate, layered-fruit and spice qualities, and silky tannins, while extracting as much flavor and color as possible. Nine months of aging in French Never oak barrels (approximately one third new) followed.
The 2004 Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir features aromas of black cherry, ripe fig, and dried herbs as elegant flavors of plump berries mingle with notes of fruit tea, coriander, cola, smoke and pepper supported by silky tannins and fruit throughout the long, juicy finish.