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Windy Oaks Meador Vineyard Pinot Gris 2014
Windy Oaks was founded in 1996 by Jim and Judy Schultze, when they returned to California after living overseas for 7 years in Australia and Europe. On a windy ridge in Corralitos, overlooking Monterey Bay, they planted their first three acres of Pinot Noir. With Jim as Winemaker, they produced their first vintage of Pinot Noir in 1999. The next year, they built the new winery building and continued to expand their Pinot Noir plantings, while also planting an acre of Chardonnay. Today, they farm a total of 26 acres of Pinot noir and their original acre of Chardonnay.
Early in 2011, their son Spencer joined Windy Oaks as assistant winemaker, upon completing the Winemaking Certification program at UC Davis. Prior to joining Windy Oaks, Spencer spent 6 months in Burgundy interning at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. In October 2011, Lucas Orme joined Windy Oaks, after also completing the Winemaking Certification program at UC Davis. Lucas assists in the winemaking and also participates in vineyard management. On Saturdays, when the tasting room is open, you will often find the Schultze’s other son James assisting Judy in the tasting room.
A geographic and climatic paradise for grape vines, Monterey is a part of the greater Central Coast AVA and contains within it five smaller sub-appellations, including Arroyo Seco, San Lucas, San Bernabe, Hames Valley and the famous Santa Lucia Highlands. The climate is relatively warm but tempered by cool, coastal winds, allowing the regions in Monterey County an exceptionally long growing season. Bud break often happens two weeks sooner and harvest tends to be two weeks later compared to other surrounding regions.
Monterey’s coastal side, where the cooling ocean fog allows grapes to develop a perfect sugar-acid balance, excels in the production of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Warmer, inland subzones are home to fleshy, concentrated and full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Chardonnay, covering about 40% of vineyard acreage, is the most widely planted grape in all of Monterey County.
Showing a unique rosy, purplish hue upon full ripeness, this “white” variety is actually born out of a mutation of Pinot noir. The grape boasts two versions of its name, as well as two generally distinct styles. In Italy, Pinot grigio achieves most success in the mountainous regions of Trentino and Alto Adige as well as in the neighboring Friuli—all in Italy’s northeast. France's Alsace and Oregon's Willamette Valley produce some of the world's most well-regarded Pinot gris wine. California produces both styles with success.
In the Glass
Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity but full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear and almond. Alsatian styles are aromatic (think rose and honey), richly textured and sometimes relatively higher in alcohol compared to its Italian counterparts. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is often much lighter, charming and fruit driven.
The viscosity of a typical Alsatian Pinot Gris allows it to fit in harmoniously with the region's rich foods like pork, charcuterie and foie gras. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works well as an aperitif wine or with seafood and subtle chicken dishes.
Given the color of its berries and aromatic and characterful potential if cared for as it is allowed to fully ripen, the Pinot grigio variety is actually one that is commonly used to make "orange wines." An orange wine is a white wine made in the red wine method, i.e. with fermentation on its skins. This process leads to a wine with more ephemeral aromas, complexity on the palate and a pleasant, light orange hue.