Anthill Farms Baker Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
Baker Ranch sits deeper in the Anderson Valley west of the hamlet of Philo, up above the virgin redwood groves of Hendy Woods. The vineyard sits on a mid-elevation east-facing slope on the south side of the valley, on very shallow slate-based soils of the Casabonne-Wohly complex. The soils have a high mineral content and an unusually high pH for California. The vines themselves were planted almost twenty years ago; they are rigorously farmed by the Baker family.
Anthill Farms is an exciting project that focuses on producing exceptional Pinot Noir from a broad range of North Coast vineyards. The properties are managed with intensive and meticulous farming practices, with minimal ecological impact. As for winemaking, there are two unchanging goals: to make wines that express the growing site and the characteristics of the vintage above all else, and to make wines that, simply put, taste good. These goals require gentle handling from crushing to bottling, judicious use of oak, and, perhaps most importantly, leaving the wine alone as much as possible. “We didn’t know whether the name was really great or really dumb,” admits Anthill Farms Winery partner Webster Marquez. “It came about because we’re all winemakers and people would see us all scrambling around trying to grab the same hose at once; they said it was like watching a bunch of ants.” This trio of ants—Marquez, Anthony Filiberti and David Low—met while working at Sonoma’s Williams Selyem. Says Marquez, “We realized that we have the same approach: using Pinot Noir—the most ‘transparent’ grape in the world—to communicate the way vineyards from cooler areas create distinctive wines.” The partners themselves farm many of the small plots where they buy their grapes, and the results of this labor of love are remarkably seductive wines that combine concentration and finesse. Now that the company has grown from producing 200 cases in 2004 to 1,800 this year, the trio’s work is becoming ever more demanding. Notes Marquez, “It’s a good thing we’re young and don’t need much sleep.” –Food & Wine Magazine’s “Most Promising New Winery” 2009
Anderson Valley, located in Mendocino County just above Sonoma County, is one of California’s coolest AVAs, allowing it a long growing season. Only 15 miles long, the region makes a slice eastward through the mountains, from the frigid Pacific Ocean. Dramatic diurnal temperature variations here preserve grape acidity and thus freshness in the finished wines. These are prime conditions for growing Pinot Noir, and the valley produces many fine versions. Characteristics of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir typically include crisp acidity, cranberry and strawberry notes as well as earthy notes of forest floor and mushroom.
Still Pinot Noir, however, is only part of the story. Pinot Noir, along with Chardonnay, are also grown for Anderson Valley’s exceptional sparkling wines. Produced via the traditional method, these offer a classic toasty note from lees aging, bright, complex fruit notes and a clean, refreshing character.