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.
The Sonoma Coast is an AVA (American Viticultural Area) that is unfortunately large and sometimes has difficulty finding a “sense of place” due to its vast size, varied soil types, and differing climates. However in recent years the Sonoma Coast has become well known for its specialty, Pinot Noir. Landmark has known about the potential of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for many years and in this library tasting blog post we’re going to focus on some of our well known Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs from various vintages.
2002 Grand Detour Pinot Noir: This 10 year old multi-vineyard Pinot Noir is light in body with aromas of wild berry fruit and tobacco. The remaining structured tannins lead over red fruits flavors on the palate. This wine is probably at its peak and should be consumed in the next 6 months.
2004 Grand Detour Pinot Noir: The 2004 harvest was early due to warmer conditions with high quality fruit shown in all the vineyards in the Grand Detour blend. This wine showed old world pinot aromas of soil and leather on the nose however on the palate this is definitely a California pinot. Ripe red fruit dominate while balanced acidity and tannins bring it together for an excellent food wine. This wine is probably at its peak and should be consumed in the next 6-12 months.
2005 Grand Detour Pinot Noir: Four Sonoma Coast vineyards (Kanzler, Keller Estate, Flocchini, and Armagh) made up the 2005 blend. The cooler 2005 vintage Grand Detour displays light red fruit and fresh turned soil aromas while on the palate the wine is lighter in body with sleek cherry and red fruit flavors. Pleasant acidity and a dry finish make it a great food pinot for richer dishes. This wine is probably nearing its peak and should be consumed in the next 12 months.
2006 Grand Detour Pinot Noir: For the 2006 vintage Gap’s Crown vineyard was included in the blend for a total of five vineyards from the Southern Sonoma Coast. Another cooler vintage however it’s still drinking exceptionally well. Non-fruit and earth aromas lead on the nose followed by plenty of strawberry, raspberry, and baking spice on the palate. This wine can be enjoyed now or held for another 12-18 months.
2005 Kanzler Pinot Noir: The Kanzler Vineyard is planted with three different Pinot Noir clones and the 2005 Landmark Kanzler Pinot Noir featured 50% Pommard clone, 37.5% 115 clone, and 12.5% 667 clone. It smelled and tasted much more “old world” in style with aromas of damp earth, Herbs du Provance, and wet tea leaves. On the palate red fruit and herbs dominate in this medium light bodied pinot noir. This wine is probably nearing its peak and should be enjoyed now or held for another 12-18 months.
2006 Kanzler Pinot Noir: The third vintage of our vineyard designate Kanzler Pinot Noir featured only free-run juice. The cooler 2006 vintage has aromas of damp forest floor and minerals while on the palate it showed unripe red cherry and black tea flavors in this balanced medium light bodied Sonoma Coast pinot noir. This wine can be enjoyed now or held for another 24 months.
Here at the estate winery, we have planted our 11 acres to Rhone varietals – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier. This decision was richly researched. Winemaker Greg Stach knew our vineyard needed to be replanted. He was considering replant ingto Rhone varietals since our climate and geography is very similar to that region in France. Then in spring 2006, he took a research trip to the Rhone region in France. This trip sealed the deal. He loved the Grenche, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier and knew it was a great fit with our terroir. We started the replanting of our estate chardonnay shortly thereafter.
Greg chose to partner with the Nursery at Tablas Creek Vineyard. They import cuttings of Rhone varietals from the well-known Chateau Beaucastel. Landmark purchased both the rootstock and budwood from Tablas Creek. At the estate, we planted the rootstock in the spring of 2007. Once the rootstock began growing vigorously in the fall, we grafted the varietals to the rootstock. Our first vintage from the estate vineyard was 2009. We created an ultra-premium blend for some of our biggest fans, our Friends of the Vineyard members.
The name of the estate vineyard, Steel Plow Estate Vineyard, embraces Landmark’s John Deere heritage. Founder Damaris Deere Ford was the great-great granddaughter of John Deere, the inventor of the steel plow which revolutionized farming. With such a deep connection to excellence in agriculture, we choose to organically farm the vineyard.
I am committed to organic farming because it is best for the grapes. For me, it’s all about creating the highest quality fruit to create the phenomenal wines. -Greg Stach, Winemaker
One organic farming practice we implement is the use of sheep in the vineyard. After pruning in the winter, we bring in a flock of sheep to help “mow” down the cover crop between the vine rows. They also aerate and fertilize the soil. It’s win-win! The commitment to organic farming is a rigorous course, but also a testament to winemaker Greg Stach’s unstinting determination to creating the ultimate Rhone style blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah from the vineyard.
At Landmark, we have always been committed to sourcing from the most iconic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards throughout California North and South Coasts. We are dedicated to site specific winemaking that expresses the unique terroir of each vineyard. With that said, it’s invaluable to know about our vineyards. Over the next few blog posts, we are going to highlight some our vineyards and growers to share their stories.
“Your wine is only as good as your vineyards,” Greg Stach.