The fruit for our 2009 Pinot Noir was grown from three estate vineyard blocks, planted to a mix of Dijon and Pommard clones. The location of each of these blocks was chosen because they are the coldest sites on High Serenity Ranch. The low gap in the ridge above the vineyard allows cooled lake air from Clear Lake to spill into High Valley producing Pinot Noir with more intense varietal character, better color extraction and excellent acid retention.
Opulent aromatics of black cherry cola and warm cinnamon buttered toast lead to ripe pomegranate and a rich, creamy sensation on the palate. The wine's deliciousness, like the finish, never seems to end.
Brassfield Estate Winery
The western section of High Valley Appellation holds the magical lands know as High Serenity Ranch. The 2,500 acre former cattle ranch is now home to Brassfield Estate Winery & Vineyard. In 1973, Jerry Brassfield purchased the original 1,600 acres as a cattle ranch and wildlife reserve. While the cattle have gone, the wildlife still remains. Over the next three decades Mr. Brassfield continued acquiring lands. Today, the estate includes both the eastern and the western sections of High Valley as well as ownership of Round Mountain Volcano.
In 1998, the Brassfield family realized the land’s true destiny was as a world-class wine property. As a result, Brassfield Estate Winery & Vineyard was established. With the new estate vineyards increased production, the winery has grown with additional tank & barrel storage capacity and a state-of-the-art crushing facility.
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Beyond Napa and Sonoma in the north you find a couple of other counties producing great wine. Among these are Mendocino and Lake County. The northernmost California winegrowing regions, these two counties are right above Napa and Sonoma, geographically. Yet, wine-wise they are very different – both from their southern neighbors and from each other.
Mendocino has a high amount of organic vintners and vines. The first winery to settle here was Fetzer, which practices organic viticulture and holds some of the most vineyard land in the area. Mendocino has many pockets of micro-climates while Lake County, being smaller in size, is less diverse climactically. As for the grapes, Chardonnay is the most popular in both counties, but there are also some excellent Sauvignon Blancs, particularly in the Lake County. In red wine, Zinfandel leads the way, followed by Rhone Blends and Petite Sirah. The reds in both counties are complex and sumptuous. Anderson Valley is a sub-AVA of Mendicino and is quite well known for its excellent cool climate, producing the delicious Roederer Estate sparkling wines and some wonderful cool-climate Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.