Alfaro Family Estate Pinot Noir 2014
After a long and satisfying career as the founder of Alfaro’s Micro Bakery, one of California’s premier gourmet bakeries, Richard Alfaro was presented with a unique opportunity in the form of an aging 75 acre apple farm in Corralitos. An offer was made on the baking company by an interested buyer, and in 1998 this forgotten piece of land was lovingly transformed by Richard and his wife Mary Kay, into what is now known as Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery. In the ensuing years, the Bread Baker became the Winemaker, captivating discriminating wine drinkers along the way. Today there are a total of 38 acres under vine in Corralitos, 18 more in Aptos, and all of the vines are cared for personally by Richard and his crew. The acreage is comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Gruner Veltliner. All of the production from start to finish occurs in-house so the grapes take a very short trip from vineyard to bottle. Two of the vineyards are named after the Alfaro’s children, Lindsay Paige and Ryan Spencer. Wife Mary Kay, a certified sommelier, assists Richard while running the office, managing the tasting room and handling the needs of their growing wine club.
A rugged and topographically diverse cool-climate appellation with a rich history, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA stretches from Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, to the northern border of Monterey County. Elevations range from 800 feet to upwards of 3,000 and microclimates vary substantially depending on which side of the mountains the vineyards lie; cool ocean winds and fog play an important role here. This can be a challenging region in which to grow grapes, but it is well worth the effort. Santa Cruz Mountains wines are noted for balanced acidity levels, often showing great aging potential. Wine has been made here since the 1800s, most notably from the legendary Ridge Vineyards, whose Monte Bello vineyard garners international admiration.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of this region, while Merlot and Zinfandel also perform quite well. Organic and sustainable vineyard practices are becoming increasingly common.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”