For over two decades, we have been producing the Overlook Chardonnay, a blend of the best vineyards in California from Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Monterey Counties. Now, we have created the perfect complement – Overlook Pinot Noir. Following the same Negociant of California philosophy as our Overlook Chardonnay, we don’t rely on a single vineyard , but instead celebrate our personal relationships with quality-obsessed growers. With balanced acidity, silky tannins, and rich aromas of wild strawberry, damson plum, and star anise, the Overlook Pinot Noir represents the best of the pinot noir vintage from Sonoma to the Central Coast.
The name Overlook is rooted in rich Americana history. Landmark’s founder Damaris Deere Ford is the great-great granddaughter of John Deere, inventor of the steel plow. In 1872 Overlook, the Deer family home and estate, was built in Moline, Mississippi and given its name because it overlooked downtown Moline, the Mississippi River, and the John Deere Plow Works. For Landmark, the name has come to represent how our Overlook wines overlook the best of California’s chardonnay and pinot noir vintage.
The 2012 Overlook Pinot Noir is available exclusively at our online shop through the end of the year. At $25 a bottle, this pinot noir is an exceptional value.
Vineyard Manager Jeffrey Gould and Wineamker Greg Stach
Over 450 guests turned out for our annual Harvest Festival at Landmark. Taking a break from their winemaking duties, Winemaker Greg Stach and our harvest interns made it out to celebrate with our guests. The weather was sunny and warm, so guests really enjoyed the courtyard with its blooming flowers and live music by Adam Traum. Pat Prather gave horse-drawn carriage rides through the vineyard. The Bocce court was busy all afternoon! The famed Rosso Pizzeria was serving up wood-fired pizza and a very popular Caprese Salad made from freshly harvest Patch tomatoes, house made mozzarella, basil, Del Monaco EVOO, and Cavedoni 7 year balsamic vinegar. We were pouring our 2011 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay, 2011 Heintz Chardonnay, 2011 Grand Detour Pinot Noir, and 2011 Steel Plow Estate Grenache. We can’t wait for next year!! Cheers!
Working at Landmark has its perks and some of those include tasting (& re-tasting) wines from our Library. This gives us the chance to “check-in” on the wines and see how they are currently drinking. We’re sticking with the Syrah theme and cracking open a few our Syrahs from the Kivelstadt Vineyard. Located on Bennett Valley Road in the Sonoma Valley AVA, this vineyard has been the source for the Landmark Steel Plow and Kivelstadt Vineyard designate Syrahs for more than a decade. We’ve found this vineyard to be an ideal location for creating a truly unique expression of Californian Syrah with great aging potential.
Aromas: Hoisin sauce and savory with leather notes along with mulled dark fruit
Flavors: Dark fruit flavors of sour plum with nutmeg and spice.
Structure: Medium bodied and it has definitely shed some weight over the years in the bottle, soft tannins.
I found it very surprising how in balance this wine is and it’s definitely in its “peak drinking window” right now.
Aromas: Meaty sausage and savory with leather notes but showing ripe dark currant as well.
Flavors: Sour red and black plum fruit flavors with very light pepper.
Structure: Medium bodied at most with light tannins.
This was the softest and lightest of the 3 library Syrahs and definitely a pleasant surprise with its drinkability. Also in its “peak drinking window” right now.
Aromas: Damp soil, leather, herbs de Provence, and violet flowers.
Flavors: Ripe dark fruit of red and black plum, black cherry, and cherry cola along with pepper and allspice.
Structure: Medium plus bodied with pronounced tannins.
The youngest of the three library Syrahs and definitely the most “showy” with plenty of fruit and tannins and on the palate. This is drinking like a young Syrah should but is only just entering its “peak window” and will probably be very drinkable for another 3 years.
Our Harvest Party was a huge success! The gorgeous courtyard welcomed almost 300 Landmark enthusiasts. With the vines still heavy with ripe grapes and the warm fall weather, the Harvest Party could not have been more fun. Guests enjoyed small-production wines, great music, and delectable foods. Two of the wines featured were our single-vineyard Heintz Chardonnay and our single vineyard Solomon Hills Pinot Noir, both of which sold out due to their high demand. The soft Latin jazz, performed by Tres, provided a laid back wine country atmosphere. Guests devoured the savory meal provided by Rolli Roti. Rotisserie chicken, porchetta, and rosemary fingerling potatoes enveloped our courtyard with their mouth-watering aromas. Of course, Landmark can’t have a successful event without Pat and his vast wine knowledge. His horse-drawn wagon tours of the vineyard have become a great staple here at Landmark Vineyards. If you missed the event this year, be sure to mark our Harvest Party as a must-attend for next year. And, of course, if you came this year, we will see you again next year!
Visit our event photo album on Facebook.
What comes to mind when you think about Cabernet Sauvignon? Maybe for you it might be the power in its aroma and its fruit driven structure in its body. What about Zinfandel? For me it would be exotic aromas of spicy and jammed fruits that fill your glass so easily. What about Syrah? When was the last time you had a Syrah that made you tilt back in your chair and force you to contemplate the every opening layers of flavor and complexity or even better when was the last time you sought out a tasting room just to try their Syrah’s? Unfortunately, I feel the answer that most of you will give is one of uncertainty, and I can’t blame you. But why is that? Why is a grape variety that in the early 2000’s was supposed to be the next big and market changing grape variety almost unheard of for producing high quality Californian wines?
Even from 2009 to 2010, there was a decrease of approximately 6,000 tons of Syrah that was crushed for wine making. That is about 3,600,000 bottles!! Now granted, there are almost countless factors that affect a grape varieties overall outcome in the market from the uncontrollable like weather that effects grape growing to the controllable such as how long the wine is in barrel and even going to the truly incomprehensible affects like consumer preference. These are just a few but the list is ever increasing and painfully complicated.
What has happened to Syrah?
This question continues to come up and it would seem that it would need at least a book or two to completely cover all of the possibilities. However, I feel that we can point our finger at production differences. Currently in America (well mostly California, let’s be honest), there is no defined style for our Syrah. Why try to replicate the Northern Rhone or even Australia that have a defined niche in our markets? In terms of winemaking, I am hoping for a move that will focus on discovery rather than simply a shift in an already established style.
So what did happen to American Syrah? I can’t honestly say for certain if Syrah is ever going to reach it’s potential laid out so many years ago. But what I can say in certainty is that in the past few vintages, I have seen amazing quality increases in California Syrah’s, mostly in terms of moving away from high alcohol in favor of balance and in my mind this at least warrants a second taste. So leave the Cabernet or Zin on the shelf tonight and grab a glass of Syrah, you might be surprised!
We harvested our first vineyard Monday, September 17th. We brought in a small amount (a little over six tons) of our Flocchini Vineyard pinot noir. This delicious fruit will make its way into our 2012 Grand Detour Pinot Noir. The Flocchini brothers, Andrew and Nick, farm this vineyard which is planted to both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Sonoma Coast AVA. We are fortunate enough to get both varietals from them. These guys are so great to work with. They are the real deal. Andrew and Nick look exceptionally calm and relaxed in this photo because it was taken in early spring – even before bud bread. Right now? They are on the run. No posing in the vineyard for us during harvest! We thank them for their dedication to the fruit.
This is truly the time of year we all look forward to. It’s always a little nutty, but more than anything it’s fun. The winery smells completely and utterly intoxicating with the smell of fresh grapes and fermenting wine fills in the air. I’ll be trying to keep up our blog update to date as more grapes start rolling into the winery. I’ll be sharing more about our growers, too. This is their time to shine. It’s like Christmas morning everyday here at the winery as Greg and our winemaking team wait for each load to arrive. Greg usually likes to greet the growers and their fruit when they arrive. He is sure to pluck a few berries from the bins to check out the quality. Thus far, he has been more than pleased with grapes.
Without a doubt my favorite aspect of being involved in the wine industry is that there is always something new to learn. To be honest, I feel I learn something new every day. I love to share my new found information with everyone that comes into our Tasting Room (or to our blog). Today on our estate we are going through a vineyard practice called “Green Drop.” This is a process that can occur as many as three times during the grape clusters ripening phase; however, we usually keep it to once or twice each growing season and prefer to complete it right before verasion (the berries color changing phase).
The idea behind the “Green Drop” is that we will be sacrificing a percentage of the underdeveloped clusters on each vine that are located in the fruiting zone and the rouge clusters that grow up in the leafy canopy. Essentially, there is only a set amount of sugars, minerals and water that each vine can absorb. As a result of “Green Dropping,” the remaining clusters can attain higher levels of the precious sugar and minerals and ripen slightly quicker. This practice contributes to the concentration in the fruit so that in the end, we have a richer and higher quality wine.
Also occurring at this time is an innovative practice that actually involves pruning the roots! Yes, that’s right! We actually trim back the growing roots of each grapevine. This is accomplished by a tractor pulling a small plow attachment down the middle of each row. This adds a stress factor to each vine and actually signals the vine to increase sugar output to the clusters. Additional beneficial effects are keeping the berries nice and small as well as encouraging thick skins that add color and flavor to our wines.
This is one of my favorite times at the winery as we are sitting on the cusp of our harvest and the craziness that comes along with it! I hope you are able to come out to the estate and see firsthand the vineyard practices that truly set our wines apart!
Drink what you like, but understand why you like it!
Brian Connor, CSW
Assistant Tasting Room Manager