Gregory Graham Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013
The Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir comes from the Roberts Road vineyard south of the town of Cotati in the Petaluma Gap, which has a tempered climate from Pacific air currents. The vineyard is owned and managed by the Sangiacomo Family. They have been farming for three generations, providing quality grapes for numerous wineries since the late 1960s. The vineyard is planted with the newer clones 115 and 777.
With its clean air and ideal climate and soils, Lake County proved to be the best choice for producing high quality wine grapes. The area’s warm days and cool nights, as well as freedom from fog in the summer allows the grapes to receive sun all day. Soils in the Red Hills appellation are red, rocky, and well-drained – ideal characteristics for the wine grapes Greg wanted to grow. Noticing too that there were only a few wineries in Lake County at the time, Greg and Marianne saw an opportunity to make a mark in an increasingly expanding wine region.
The Grahams live in their home upon a hill overlooking the span of vineyards, the estate winery and tasting room. Following the purchase of the property near Lower Lake, Greg replanted seven acres of the Zinfandel to pursue his dream of producing Syrah and Grenache, two varietals the Grahams had enjoyed during their honeymoon in Gigondas, France. First production from the vines occurred in 2004, and in February of the same year, the Grahams expanded operations by purchasing the adjacent property including a 13-acre Cabernet vineyard.
Gregory Graham’s winery sitting at the base of the vineyard-covered hills was constructed in 2006. The on-site facility (solar-powered since 2011) with its proximity to the vines allows the winemaker to harvest his grapes at the perfect time and engage in the winemaking immediately. As the grower and winemaker, Greg believes that grape selection, well-timed harvest, and careful production are critical to making great wine.
A vast appellation covering Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline, the Sonoma Coast AVA runs all the way from the Mendocino County border, south to the San Pablo Bay. The region can actually be divided into two sections—the actual coastal vineyards, marked by marine soils, cool temperatures and saline ocean breezes—and the warmer, drier vineyards further inland, which are still heavily influenced by the Pacific but not quite with same intensity.
Contained within the appellation are the much smaller Fort Ross-Seaview and Petaluma Gap AVAs.
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.”