The Withers English Hill Pinot Noir 2017
English Hill, planted in 2005, is an 8.5 acre vineyard located 9.2 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Occidental, overlooking Tomales and the Marin Coast Range. It sits at an elevation of 652 feet and is comprised of Goldridge, Sandy Loam and Steinbeck Fine Sandy Loam soils. Clones harvested include Vosne Romanee, 115, and 667. The site is turbulent and exposed, featuring cool afternoon breezes and lengthy ripening seasons.
This ethereal Pinot enters with lightness and expands rapidly on the palate, showing notes of coastal forest floor, baking spice, earth, and dried tea and herbs. The small berries contribute a higher skin to pulp ratio, which gives this lovely wine a deceiving power.
Their aim is to produce elegant, nuanced, balanced, food friendly expressions of cool climate vineyard sites that don’t sacrifice flavor, complexity or intensity. For those wondering about the winery name, the withers is in four legged species the tallest point of the body. For horses, it is the place from which height is measured. They named the winery in the spirit of striving for heights in every aspect of their operation, and as a tribute to Mr.Burgess, the Irish Connemara pony who has been a member of their extended family for almost 15 years. The artwork on the label is an original illustration of Mr. Burgess drawn by a special young woman who has known their family and the horse since her childhood. He is a sensitive and beautiful animal willing to experiment with the many equestrian disciplines, having over time proven to be reliable and expert at every one.
They aim for the same concept in making wine; be unafraid of exploration and pursue heights of excellence across many disciplines, whether red, white or rosé and irrespective of varietal. What they seek in wine, friendships, music, and everything for which they have a passion is something to reach for, something that draws you in because it is not so obvious on its face, yet which intrigues you. Something that with patience yields an end result that builds from the first impression. Something familiar and evocative, yet which leaves you searching for descriptive words. Something soulful. In other words, they seek to produce qualities in their wines that we look for in every corner of their lives. So they embarked on the journey, determined, enthusiastic and hopeful.
This project has been 35 years in the making. Years filled with collecting, sampling, enjoying, learning, and sharing. What they are doing today wouldn’t be possible without help from close friends; extremely talented people about whom they care and who have shared their knowledge, expertise and time. They consider themselves very lucky to know such wonderful people, and to be working with them going forward. Combining a personal passion for wine with the hard work involved in making it for others to enjoy requires a healthy respect for the challenges to being successful and for the process itself. They have that respect, and believe that the most important element will always be working with vineyards which produce the high quality fruit from which every fine wine must come, then letting it speak for itself without attempting to alter its true character. They hope you will take an interest in what they are doing, share your true stories with them, and most of all, enjoy their wines with friends, colleagues, and loved ones!
The Sonoma Coast AVA is large in area but, not counting overlapping regions like Russian River Valley, only has a few thousand acres of grapevines—and it’s no wonder. Much of the region is rugged and not easily accessible. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean’s fog and cool breezes limits the varieties that can be cultivated, but it proves to be an ideal environment for high quality Pinot Noir.
Since fog is a frequent fact of life here, as are heavy marine layers that sometimes bring rain, the best vineyards are wisely planted above the fog line, on picturesque ridges that capture enough sun to provide even ripening. That, with the overnight drop in temperature that reliably preserves acidity, results in fine expressions of Pinot Noir that often receive tremendous critic and consumer praise alike, and are often in high demand.