Sean Minor 4B Pinot Noir 2020
Born in Kansas, Sean Minor was surrounded by agriculture, hard work, and the values responsible for the unwavering work ethic of Midwestern families. His career in wine began after a formal education in finance from Arizona State University where he also met his wife, Nicole. After moving to California, where Sean began his fine wine career working for Napa Valley’s Beaulieu Vineyard, he knew that the wine industry was the right place for him. He furthered his education at U.C. Davis in Viticultural and Enology.
Will Bucklin continues to be our consulting winemaker, as he collaborates with Sean during the winemaking process of all of our wines. Will is a graduate of UC Davis’ prestigious enology program and started his career with an internship at the historic and world-renowned Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Following stints with Thomas Hardy in Australia and Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino, he worked with Sean at King Estate in Oregon. Together, Will and Sean work closely with the vineyards we contract, and their collaborative efforts create the consistent wines we sell today.
Sean was recruited by King Estate Winery in Oregon to manage the Estate, where he learned firsthand the importance of site-specific viticulture. After leaving King Estate, Sean led Benton Lane Winery, rounding out his cool-climate viticulture experience. Sean and his family then headed back to California for the opportunity to manage Renwood Winery and enhance his experience growing and marketing some of the Golden State’s best Zinfandel and Syrah. Four years later, he founded Sean Minor Wines.
Let’s start with the obvious – Central Coast Pinot Noir is an incredibly broad category. This of course is because the Central Coast appellation is enormous, and it contains several stellar Pinot Noir regions within it, all of them kept cool by elevation or proximity to the ocean (or both). So we’ll break things down a bit with a brief look at each of these: Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey and the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. These are not the only Central Coast sources of good Pinot Noir, but they are the major ones. So let’s get started.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, just west of Silicon Valley, producers craft excellent Pinot in spite of serious challenges. The land is mountainous, rugged and can be foggy, the topsoil is thin and poor and yields tend to be low. Yet Pinots from the likes of David Bruce, Martin Ray, Mount Eden and Thomas Fogarty exhibit undeniable quality, along with bright red fruit, minerality, earth and herbal hints.
Just south lies the large Monterey appellation. Monterey Pinot Noir is grown in coastal areas, taking optimal advantage of the cooling effect of the Pacific. The most highly regarded of these is the Santa Lucia Highlands. Situated on hilly benchlands south of the city of Monterey, this central coast region relies on a long growing season, night and morning fog and consistent afternoon winds to produce world class Pinot Noir. Attributes include intense, rich fruit, subtle earthy notes, spice and a silky texture. Look for producers like Siduri, Kosta Browne, Talbott and Lucienne.
The Santa Maria Valley in northern Santa Barbara County (a section of it falls into southern San Luis Obispo County) is also a haven for quality Pinot Noir. A mere 15 miles from the Pacific, the valley runs east-west, creating a natural tunnel through which ocean breezes and fog flow. This effect lengthens the growing season and promotes both ripeness and development of acidity, lending Santa Maria Valley Pinots their characteristic full flavor, balance and elegance. The famous Bien Nacido Vineyard is located here, and notable producers include Cambria, Foxen, Byron and Au Bon Climat.
Finally, we arrive at the Sta. Rita Hills, also in Santa Barbara County. Located in the western part of the Santa Ynez Valley, it too benefits from an east-west orientation that leads to the same conditions mentioned above. Once again the result is extended hang time for the grapes, which can be tasted in the vibrant, ripe red fruits evident in these Pinots, along with dense coloration and an impression of richness and intensity. Try wines from producers like Ken Brown, Ampelos, Fess Parker and Melville.
As you can see, California’s Central Coast offers a wealth of options for any lover of Pinot Noir. Cheers!