Hook and Ladder Pinot Noir 2016
After the sale of their acclaimed De Loach Vineyards in 2003 to French vintners Boisset Family Estates, Cecil and Christine continued to farm and make wines from the more than 148 acres of vineyard Russian River Valley – and moved on to their next winery project. In 2003, they launched Hook & Ladder Winery on Olivet Road, just down the street from their original De Loach Vineyards. Named for Cecil’s 17-year career as a San Francisco firefighter, Hook & Ladder is helmed today by grandson Jason De Loach, an accomplished winemaker who joined the winery in 2006. Hook & Ladder is an “estate” producer, specializing in small bottling’s of Pinot Noir, “Old Vine” Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends sourced from the family’s sustainably-farmed vineyards in Russian River Valley and its sub-appellation, Chalk Hill. The winery also produces and sells estate-grown Olive Oil from trees grown at their Los Amigos Ranch.These days, Cecil and Christine can often be found at the winery they founded, helping out in the office, cellar and occasionally in the tasting room, which is festooned with fire station t-shirts given to the winery by visiting fire fighters from all around the world.
While the Russian River Valley is a large appellation with multiple climate zones and soil types, it is best known for cool-climate varieties, with Pinot Noir as the most celebrated. The grapes benefit from a reliable late afternoon flow of Pacific Ocean fog through the Petaluma Gap and along the Russian River Valley that ensures slow and steady ripening and the preservation of grape acidity. Today many of California’s most highly regarded Pinot Noir vineyards are in the Russian River Valley, along with its sub-appellation, Green Valley.
Historically Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs had bright red fruit and delicate earthy, mineral notes. But changes in viticultural and winemaking practices have led to stylistic changes in some of the region’s wines. Adjustments to canopy management, among other techniques, have resulted in riper fruit and bolder wines as well. These show flavors of black cherry, blackberry, cola, spice and darker, loamy earth tones, accenting traditional Pinot Noir notes of strawberry, raspberry and light cherry.