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John and Carri Holdredge
November 27, 2018 | John and Carri Holdredge

Wine Club - December 2018

As I write this, Thanksgiving has just passed, and the holiday season is in full swing. We have a lot to be thankful for this year (every year actually); including the love and health of our family, and friends. Our winery, which is a labor of love, continues to be blessed by the ever-increasing access to some of the rarified “blue-chip” vineyards of Sonoma County, and we are so lucky to work with some of the finest growers as well.  But we are keenly aware of how fortunate we are to have had the friendship and support of our customers- from our very humble beginnings to the present day. Without you, none of this would be possible, and we are more grateful than you can imagine.

This four pack is perfect for the holidays- each wine has a very distinctive personality, and each is highly allocated. So, in a way, I suppose it’s like getting yourself an early present! We tend towards richer and more robust foods this time of year, and each of these has the wherewithal to match up to them (we are serving Beef Bourguignon at the release party and the wines all pair well which says a lot). We included two bottles of the biggest of the bunch- “Rolling Thunder” because nothing beats hunkering down, safe and warm, with someone you love and a glass of a full-bodied Pinot on a cold winter night.  All of these are ready to drink now- so there’s no need to wait. We hope you have a great holiday season!

Holdredge 2016 “Mazie Rose” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir New Release! 

Only 76 cases made. 

$50/btl  (Club Price: $42.50)  

If you know us, you likely remember we used to live at this tiny vineyard (just over an acre), which we planted to Pinot (from Syrah) in 2006, and it has always held a place in our hearts. The vineyard typically produces a very small crop, we had a little under 2 tons of grapes, leaving us with just over 76 cases of wine that made the final blend (we only included about 8% of the “Dijon” clones in this year’s bottling). Despite being a tiny place, it carries a very big voice, and it’s always been a popular wine.

Over the years, we’ve found this vineyard is expressing more expansively. Where the earlier vintages seemed more defined by a core of acidity, the more recent years (since like 2010) have seemed more lavish, both in weight and texture. The 2016 seems to straddle the best of all of this- it is undeniably luxurious, but the acidity we loved really shines through. It is the lowest pH of all our 2016s (meaning the strongest acids), and that really defines the structure. Although there are plenty of dark ripe fruits and there is lots of palate weight, there are some really pretty high-toned aromatics that round the whole thing out. Highly allocated (basically sold out on release to the club), this can absolutely be enjoyed now but should age very well for 8 or more years.

Holdredge 2016 “Bucher Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir New Release!

Only 98 cases made. 

$50/btl  (Club Price: $42.50)  

This vintage marked our11th vintage at Bucher Vineyard, and in a way, this wine is a return to our roots there. When we first started there, we began with the “Pear Tree” block, which is the northernmost block at Bucher- about a half mile and two ridges north of the dairy. Over the years, we began to work with other blocks as well, but the core of the wine we designated remained Pear Tree, we just like it best. In fact, each year, the other blocks have played diminishing roles in the final wine. With the 2016, the final blend we liked best wasn’t a blend at all- it was 100% Pear Tree- just as we began.

The hallmark of Bucher has always been aromatics of lifted red fruit, framed by rose petals. This wine fits that to its core. The aromatics are dominated by strawberries, and there is a very distinct note of rose petal, both of which are which are in such abundance that you might think it is going to be a powerful wine. But the palate is actually medium weight and quite silky, and as a result, the wine presents more to the elegant, even thoughtful, side of things than the depth of the aromatics might suggest. Like the others in this shipment, it will be effectively sold out on release. This wine is ready for drinking now and should continue to develop for at least 6 more years.

90 Points- Jeb Dunnuck

Holdredge 2016 “Rolling Thunder” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release!

Only 112 cases made. 

$50/btl   (Club Price: $42.50) 

The wine we make from this vineyard has really gained a following over the years. It’s a mountaintop vineyard, situated outside Occidental, atop the third ridge in from the Pacific Ocean. One of my biggest lessons was learning how to approach the bigger tannic structure this vineyard presents; basically, it’s a function of being patient and allowing them the time to ripen so the structure of the wine is certain but seamless. The resulting wine, which exemplifies fully ripe fruit, always tends to reflect its moniker- it is no “light spring shower”- it is indeed, “Rolling Thunder”!

The 2016 is no exception. It leads with a very dramatic nose of ripe black cherries and black raspberries, with a nice note of spice. In the palate, it’s opulent- with the richness to enjoy as a glass of wine or to pair with the very heaviest foods of the holiday. When we were about to bottle the 2016s, Carri and I tasted through everything together- and for me, I thought this was the showstopper in terms of just being a dramatic wine in all respects, but that still had some very nice nuances. By all means, enjoy it now, it will absolutely be a great fit at any holiday table, but it will also continue to become more interesting over the next 5-6 years.

93 Points-Jeb Dunnuck, 90 Points, Antonio Galloni





John & Carri Holdredge 


Time Posted: Nov 27, 2018 at 4:22 PM
John and Carri Holdredge
July 25, 2018 | John and Carri Holdredge

The 2017 Vintage - State of the Union

It’s hard to believe, but we are just a few days from bottling the 2017 Pinots, with the 2018 harvest hot on its heels.  I haven’t said a lot about 2017 - it’s a vintage that has really stayed with me in terms of processing the lessons Nature provided, and I think I’ve been thinking about it a lot more than talking about it.  But with bottling around the corner, it is an apropos time to do so.

In late August, we experienced a heat wave that was unlike anything I’ve ever seen here. It was like working with a blast furnace in a steel mill on a very hot day; just an unbelievably oppressive and relentless level of heat. It continued unabated- with no respite from the fog. As a result, we didn’t ease into harvest - it was dropped on us like a ton of bricks. I saw a few winemaking buddies around town in the middle of it; each time nobody said anything - we just shook our heads and never broke our 1000 yard stares.

Of course, the weather always changes - and when the break came it came in the form of a couple cold rainy days. I was driving home one of those mornings after checking a vineyard (which I had decided to pick), and as I rounded a curve on Westside road, I was hit with an amazing view of the rain as it was crossing the valley, coupled with a realization that made me pull off the road just to think about it.

I called Carri, and told her that over the years, I’ve come to fully embrace my role as being more of a custodian than a winemaker. As I’ve learned these lessons over the years, I’ve become very comfortable with that role- which emanates from truly understanding that wine is made by Nature- not winemakers. In fact, my role has largely been reduced to one critical decision- calling the pick. It’s not that I don’t work- I work like crazy - it’s simply that the work I do is undertaken from the standpoint of letting the wines define themselves. But the picking decision is the one moment where I am not a custodian - it’s the moment where I get to shape the wine.

And I told her that I loved that I was so comfortable with the fact that I had this one job, this one thing I do, that in many ways defines the ending quality of the wine. But I had just realized that to that point in harvest 2017, I hadn’t called a single pick, not one. Nature had called them all for m e- every time I said it was time to pick, it was because Nature had already decided it, and made it crystal clear to me. As I thought about it, I realized that perhaps it was always so, I just hadn’t really grasped it.

I think the wines reflected that pedigree- from the onset they were very strong willed, with a lot of personality. It’s said that there are three questions all humans ask: who am I, where am I from, and where am I going? In a way, I think the personality of the 2017 vintage is a certainty and self-assuredness – as though these wines know the answers to those very questions; and they carry themselves with the certainty one might expect from that knowledge.

Some of the 2017s were sampled by the public during the barrel weekends- and it was surprising how evenly the love was spread among them, which I suppose is a very good sign. And yet, their direction remained elusive to me in many ways - as though they were making me wait to find out who they were determined to be. Which is a lot like raising kids I suppose. The wait has been more than worthwhile; Nature left a huge imprint on this vintage- and fans of elegant, rich, red fruit driven Pinot will be very happy.

We’ll be turning our attention to the 2018 harvest soon enough, for now, we keep tasting through the 11 pinots we are bottling, all of which are in tanks for bottling, and we keep fine tuning things. Bottling is a crazy time for us, but it’s the home stretch for what I believe are some very delicious wines. I can’t wait to share them with you.


John & Carri Holdredge 

Time Posted: Jul 25, 2018 at 2:29 PM
John and Carri Holdredge
February 13, 2018 | John and Carri Holdredge

Wine Club - February 2018

This club shipment is a milestone for us: it includes our very first release from a very iconic vineyard in western Sonoma County. While our winery is decidedly a family project, neither of us grew up here, but we were fortunate to have been making Pinot Noir for several years before the movie “Sideways” made it “cool” to make Pinot Noir. We’ve been repeatedly blessed over the years as we’ve been able to secure fruit from some very special growers, including the Rochioli family, the Bucher family, Ulises Valdez (among others) and now, after twelve years of cajoling, we are fortunate to include the Martinelli family and their “Three Sisters” vineyard among our fruit sources.

The two pinots in this shipment are from completely opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, and though young (2016), both are already incredibly accessible. Both were under consideration for our December release, we decided both needed a little more time, and the dividends of patience are obvious. We have also included a very rare wine from our other brand- Oscuro (Italian for “obscure”). It is our final 2015 vintage wine to be released, and it is sensational.

Holdredge 2016 “Three Sisters Vineyard” Fort Ross/Seaview Pinot Noir - New Release! Only
Only 72 cases made.  
$70 ($59.50 club members)
Twelve years ago, I asked Lee and Pam Martinelli to sell me grapes from one of their coastal vineyards. The vineyards sit in a very remote and iconic location, off a road known as “Bohan Dillon Road”- which sits high above the second ridge in from the Pacific, at about 1200 foot elevation. There is a ruggedness there that I really can’t describe- and pictures (as I take them) can’t convey it. There are places that are beautiful, and in some of them, nature also reminds you just how insignificant you are- this is one such place.

The wine’s color is not a dark by any standard- it is medium red, and on opening, a huge note of macerated cranberries and cherries aromatics hit the nose. Though light in color, it is not light in body, the mouth-feel is rich, and flavors coat the palate. And yet, true to its mountaintop roots, it carries a layer of fine tannins from front to back palate- a bit of structure that reminds you where it is from. A hundred years ago, the Martinelli family ran sheep on this ranch; I’ll simply say that I don’t see it as coincidental that a little rack of Lamb would be a perfect pairing. We are thrilled to release it, and while it will be delicious over the next 5-7 years, I wouldn’t feel any need whatsoever to wait- we already waited twelve years!

Holdredge 2016 “Petits Cadeaux” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release!
Only 125 cases made.  
$50 ($42.50 club members)

The divergence between this wine and the “Three Sisters” begins with the color; this is a dark, almost purple-hued wine. That color comes from the tiny clusters and berries from this particular site, the corresponding increased ratio of skin (where the color comes from) and juice, and a very long (9 day) pre-fermentation cold soak to facilitate flavor and color extraction. The color theme continues into the aromatics, all of which carry a darker fruit profile- with every berry in the profile rightfully preceded by the word “black” (“blackberries, black raspberries, etc.).

This is an early ripening site, and sometimes, this is the only wine in the winery as we wait for other vineyards, so it gets a lot of attention. In 2016, we picked 5 different clones in four separate picks, all were fermented separately, and all were delicious, but only two clones (both originally from Chambertain) comprise 95% of the blend, with the last 5% from a third clone. From the onset it had a power and richness that is typical of this place and it has evolved into a rather plush wine that still has plenty of acid to carry the back end. This is drinking really well now, and should improve for at least the next 4-6 years.

Oscuro 2015 Dry Creek Valley “Schioppettino” - New Release!
Only 92 cases made.
$42 (Club Price: $35.70)

This is an exceedingly rare grape from our other brand- which reflect our passion for bringing lesser known and sometimes obscure Italian grapes to our customers. This grape, once thought extinct, is only cultivated in several villages in Italy, and we were the first American producer to release one starting in 2004. This vineyard sits high above the Dry Creek Valley, with volcanic soils and moderately warm temperatures- ideal from any vantage point.

The 2015 is one of the more luxurious versions of this wine that we’ve made. The “Cherry Pie” note is more reminiscent of a Montmorency than a sour cherry, there are some very soft black fruit notes throughout, and the black pepper aromatics are not as dominant. This is a real pleasure to drink, and we always find great food pairings- from classics like cheese and charcuterie; our favorite non-tomato pizzas and pasta dishes (a mushroom-sausage lasagna with Bechamel was a knockout); to a simple “American” meal like “a steak and a bake”. We decided to hold this back to release- it had a few tiny rough edges, and right now it is drinking seamlessly- and while it could age well for a number of years, it is offering pretty immediate pleasure.


John & Carri Holdredge 

Time Posted: Feb 13, 2018 at 10:14 AM
John and Carri Holdredge
November 14, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge

Wine Club - December 2017

Heading into the holidays, we are thrilled to be offering four of our remaining Pinots from the near-legendary 2015 vintage. They all express differently, they are all drinking beautifully, but all have the structure to age. From bright red fruit, to dark black aromatics, these will be able to pair with the full range of holiday foods- there is literally a wine here for everything (except dessert!). In terms of the joy of the experience, 2015 is one of my two all-time favorite harvests. I hope the wonderful emotional journey we experienced that special year is conveyed in part through these wines. Have a great holiday season!

Holdredge 2015 “The True” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- New Release!
Only 56 cases made.  
$50 ($42.50 club members)
2015 brought a very small crop for the Sonoma Coast appellation – we were down almost 80%. In this vineyard, we had barely a ton of grapes from both pieces of the vineyard we take each year. As a result, we have we only were able to bottle just over 50 cases of this wine. If there is a “silver lining”, it’s that while there’s only a very small amount of this wine, nature saw to it that what we got was excellent.

Despite the early start to harvest, this fruit hung until late September, thanks to very cool temperatures out there. As I walked the vineyard in the weeks leading to the pick, there wasn’t a drop-off in acid levels, so there was no need to pick. The flavors consistently kept evolving towards a darker profile, but with an underlying layer of classic red fruit, something that stayed consistent to the end. The wine shows that same evolution, it is undeniably dark and structured, but with a touch of red fruit and the vibrant acidity that cold site preserves. This will pair well with heavier dishes, and should age upwards of 8 years without difficulty, but I’m thinking the best of it will be now and over the next four years.

Holdredge 2015 “Bucher Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release! 
Only 98 cases made.  
$50 ($42.50 club members)

We speak of how the voice of place remains constant, but each vintage is shaped by time. A great example was from the 2014 vintage; while there was the familiar undercurrent of Bucher, it spoke with a very different (and dark) voice. It was very popular, but somewhat controversial in how it stood apart from past wines from this vineyard.  With the 2015 vintage, Bucher returns to the aromatic and flavor profile I’ve come to expect.

The hallmark of Bucher has always been aromatics of lifted red fruit, framed by rose petals. This wine fits that to its core. The aromatics are dominated by ripe cranberries and strawberries, and a very distinct note of rose petal. It has a very full palate, but for all the fruit, the wine still carries enough acid and a tiny bit of super fine tannin to carry the finish for a good while. This wine is ready for drinking now, and should continue to develop for at least 6 more years.

Holdredge 2015 “Mazie Rosé” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release!
Only 73 cases made.             
$50 (Club Price: $42.50)

Each time I walked this vineyard before harvest, I was struck by how clearly it seemed to mirror the spirit of the harvest. In a vintage that proceeded at a magical pace, Mazie Rose spoke with a certainty that it would be ready when it was ready, and that it knew nature would cooperate. There was tranquility about the place, but the spirit was intense.
This wine reflects that spirit.  Of the various clones there, prior to harvest I thought the Pommard clone was going to be the backbone of the wine. In barrel, it absolutely delivered a wall of aromatics and flavors (macerated Montmorency pie cherries and black plums), with a plush back end. But as we went through blending trials, it was a little extra 777, that usually is only a very tiny portion of this wine that seemed to capture the moment of the vintage. This is absolutely ready to drink, and should easily provide another 6-7 years of primary evolution in bottle.


Holdredge 2015 “Selection Massale” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release!
Only 52 cases made. 

$50 (Club Price: $42.50)

This vineyard has always produced a lighter, red-fruit driven wine. Over the years, that’s ranged from very light and delicate, to medium body with fine tannins. I tend to wait for tannin development, so this vineyard has been one of the last wines we pick most years. In 2015, this was one of the last wines we picked, and yet, it had higher acid and lower sugars than wines we had already picked.

The wine has been a surprise; when we first pressed it after fermentation, and early in its barrel life, I wondered if might be too delicate. But it gained a tremendous amount of weight as we raised it, every time I tasted through the barrels this wine just seemed to change the most day to day. By bottling, it had become a very well-defined wine, and while not “powerful” also isn’t really delicate.

It is undeniably lighter in color than many of our wines (it should be- that’s the place speaking), yet it’s got plenty of weight and depth. Red fruits dominate the nose; I keep thinking of dark strawberries and a touch of rhubarb, and a fine note of baking spice. This is always a wine that takes time to show its very best- so while you can absolutely drink it now, even a few months will make a huge difference. I expect the peak of this wine to be over the next 7-9 years.


John & Carri Holdredge 

Time Posted: Nov 14, 2017 at 1:55 PM
John and Carri Holdredge
October 11, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge

Harvest 2017

Quite understandably, the question I’m most often asked at this time of year is “how’s the harvest?” As I’ve grown as a winemaker and as a person, I’ve really moved away from thinking about specific fine details of the wines at this stage- I’m just starting to know them.  Aside from the process of managing fermentations, what I tend to focus on this time of year is the emotion of the harvest. By that, I mean how does Mother Nature treat us? What is her mood and how does she express it? And what do the wines say as a result?

Every year, Nature places her stamp on the vintage. Whether it’s a hot year (2002, 2003), a cold year (2011), a year with a huge crop (2012), a year with a small crop (2010), she always has her say. But challenges aren’t always the emotion; some years, the weather is simply ideal, and Nature stamps the whole vintage with a nurturing feel; it’s a very real thing to connect with, and the best part of the journey. In such years (like 2007, 2015, 2016) the connection I feel to the earth, through the emotion of the vintage, is beyond explanation.

We work pretty hard to prepare for crush. Since my return to cycling last November, I was in better shape for a harvest than I think I’ve ever been, and felt very prepared. Emotionally, the year was feeling much like 2015 and 2016, except the grapes weren’t going to be picked as early as those years, so we had a little extra time, which was nice. The labor pool was challenging; we weren’t sure if there would be enough picking crews, and I literally didn’t have interns confirmed until late August, but despite those uncertainties, we felt on track.

And that was the precise moment Mother Nature decided to remind us that she can change it all in a heartbeat; and dropped the mother of all heat waves on us.  When I say “heat wave”, these were the highest temperatures ever recorded around here, and for multiple days. The string of 100+ degree days that were projected (and we were at 113 and above) seemed to stretch out forever in the forecasts.

It wasn’t just “hot” either, it was an incredibly heavy, oppressive heat, which I have little to compare to other than the desert, but even that feels different. No matter, sugars skyrocketed. It was so hot that grapes didn’t raisin, so much as they seemed to just lose moisture on a cellular level.

This led to the only place it could: total pandemonium. We usually start with a couple small picks from two small places, and then it’s a week or more before anything else comes in. It works out great, and always gives us a chance to get everyone dialed in. Not this year. We picked those two places, and four other vineyards, all on the first day, which itself was a solid two weeks earlier than I had expected. Other vineyards, that days earlier I thought were two or three weeks out, were ready for picking “tomorrow”. We had barely gotten the winery ready and we were just flat-out slammed; long days back to back to back, with no respite in sight.

Was there an emotion to the early part of harvest? Yeah- it was like Mother Nature was swinging a steel hammer, and connecting. It was a relentless pounding that reverberated through us like it feels in a steel mill when a huge machine relentlessly pounds metal to shape it. That was the emotion. Winemakers would see each other and there’d be no small talk, just a painful shake of the head and move on.

And then, when it just had to end, it did. The heat broke, and after a bit of rain (leading to speculation on my part as to whether a volcano would erupt before the locusts would arrive), the weather changed to a more moderate pattern, things slowed to a most civilized pace, and it was just absolutely glorious in the vineyard and in the winery. It ended up being a very compressed, but very wonderful harvest.

It’s funny; in a way it’s somewhat difficult to remember how hard it was just a few weeks ago, because even with that start, it was an amazing experience. The onslaught of heat made everyone come together and the interns turned out to be two of the best we’ve ever had. Wayne, who you know from our Tasting Room, jumped in to help, and my son worked a few days before leaving for college.  Growers and winemakers took care of each other as they could; we were all getting pounded, and we all pulled together. And, as I tasted the fermenting wines, I was struck by their personalities, even the earliest picks.

Over the years, I have come to fully embrace the fact that as a winemaker I only do one significant thing, and that’s to call the picking date. As I drove back one morning from a vineyard check, I realized that I hadn’t called a single pick so far - Nature had called them all. At first, that kind of irked me, it’s my one job. Then I realized Nature had reminded me in a big way that I only get to do my job if she lets me; and that sometimes when she does it for me, fabulous wines can ensue, which was a different version of her annual reminder to stay within myself and to remember I don’t know it all, if I know anything at all.

As it turns out, I’m a bit captivated by the 2017s; if there’s a common theme, it’s that for wines so young, they all seem to share a real sense of purpose. Wherever they go, it won’t be me steering them- they already know it for themselves. I keep asking myself how those personalities came from that experience, but perhaps, akin to having been forged in heat, they are just more resilient, or something like that. Perhaps I will be as well; I experienced a harvest like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I hope to be a better winemaker as a result.

So how is the 2017 harvest coming along? In all honesty, it’s been absolutely brutal, and it’s been absolutely incredible. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Time Posted: Oct 11, 2017 at 6:49 AM
John and Carri Holdredge
August 18, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge

Wine Club - September 2017

A week or so ago, we were discussing what wines to include in this club shipment, and after we selected them, we realized we hadn’t tried any of them since bottling! It happens- we go directly from bottling to harvest to raising the next vintage, and other things (life) can keep us too busy to check in on them (we don’t have a shortage of wine in our cellar). So, we put a great dinner together, and opened these wines for the first time in a year. The “conversation”, such as it was the first few minutes, was pretty much occasional short phrases like “wow”, “oh my”, “whoa”…. You get the drift. We were both captivated by these wines- it was like being reunited with a friend who had gone through a personal transformation during their absence.

Bottom line- you are going to love these! 2015 was truly an exceptional year- the harvest had a huge emotion about it, it just seemed to have a soft glow about it, paired with nature’s steady determination.  I think these wines all show that emotion- there is a thread running through all of them (you’ll have to read this whole thing to find with what I mean- I’m such a tease!). All these are ready to drink- I asked one of the growers if he had tried the wine he grew from the case I had dropped off- and he looked at me like I was from Mars and said “uh, I drank all of them!” So apparently we’re late to the party - but fortunately, it’s really just getting started!

Holdredge 2015 “Rolling Thunder” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release!
Only 98 cases made.  
$50 ($42.50 club members)
This was the first mountain site we took Pinot from, and in the 8 years I’ve worked with this fruit, I’ve always been struck by how consistent the wine is from year to year. Of course, there are always differences between vintages, but the voice of this place comes through year after year. We work with obsessive growers- and Jim Riddle, the grower for this wine, is as obsessive as any of them. Walk the vineyard and there’s not a leaf, a berry, anything, out of place, farming is meticulous, and nature is provided every opportunity to give her best. 
There has always been a big note of boysenberry in the wines from this vineyard, and 2015 is no exception. But not in a monolithic way- other bright fruit aromas dance around the core. The biggest lesson I’ve had to learn at this vineyard is tannin management (usually not an issue in Pinot, but mountain sites are different), and this vintage shows what a difference that can make.  Carri and I both felt there was a surprising elegance in the wine- we started to characterize it as feminine, but the wine is simply too big to really fit that moniker. It just continued to open up in the glass and reveal more layers- and every time I started to think “this is powerful”, that elegance stepped back in. It really is quite wonderful. Drink now until 2026.

Holdredge 2015 “Judgment Tree” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release! 
Only 100 cases made.  
$70 ($59.50 club members)

One day during the 2015 harvest, I dropped by the Rochioli vineyard to tell Tom that although I had been planning to pick in a couple days, I had decided to wait a little longer. Tom said that he had made the same decision, and we began discussing the year in general. Tom said he thought it was the best year since 1994 (a legendary year among winemakers), and my decision to wait could bring great rewards, and in retrospect, I think we were absolutely right.

The Rochioli Sweetwater vineyard presents the same challenge as the Rolling Thunder does- tannin management. It’s a steep, hillside vineyard, and planted to 100% Rochioli “West Block” clone (some Pommard clone we used to take is being replanted). Whether it’s the soil, the clone or whatever, we always have more tannin to deal with in this vineyard. But with the extra hang time nature allowed in 2015, the tannins became super ripe and very fine and silky. Some of the past vintages of this wine have needed time for the tannins to smooth out- not this one. 

It is driven by darker red fruit notes, and in the mouth, the tannins are super-fine and just part of a seamless elegance. We both feel this has a “polished” character- indeed, it is a very focused wine- tons of depth (but not ponderous), but the acidity and fine tannin keep the palate focused. I hate it when winemakers say “this may be our best yet”- I have no idea what “best” means- but we both think this is by far our favorite wine from the Rochioli vineyard at this stage. You can open it right now- tonight if you like- or enjoy it over the next 10-12 years.

Oscuro 2015 Dry Creek  Valley “Montepulciano - New Release! 
Only 69 cases made.
$38 ($32.30 club members)

My quest to bring this noble and often overlooked grape to America’s dinner tables is proceeding at a solid clip of about 60 cases a year. At this rate, the grape may remain under most American’s radar- but not yours! We continue to become more fascinated by this grape each year- both for its distinctive flavors and structure, as well as its fabulous food versatility. Any food you’d serve with Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, etc., will be a great fit with this wine, the grape just seems made for pairing with dinner.

The 2015 has the traditional flavor profile of the grape (notably dark black fruit), but like the other wines in this shipment, the story is one of elegance. The tannins in this wine, usually massive and needing some real time in bottle to resolve, are just about as fine as they can be. The wine has great structure front to back, and yet, we both kept coming back to the same descriptor: “elegant”. Despite being a dark, powerful wine, this too carries a certain elegance about it, it’s just a delicious and fun wine to enjoy with dinner. Best now and for the next 5-7 years.

John & Carri Holdredge  

Time Posted: Aug 18, 2017 at 11:54 AM
John and Carri Holdredge
July 26, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge

Summer 2017 - State of the Winery

We’re bottling our wines from the 2016 vintage in a couple weeks, so it’s really a pretty intense time for us; there a ton of logistical details that all have to come perfectly together, not to mention the fine finishing details of all the wines themselves. It’s akin sending the children off into the world, and you can do nothing further for them- it’s frankly emotional on a lot of levels. We fret over small details, and the actual bottling days can range from a grueling ordeal to getting a real beat-down! But that’s part of the price nature demands if you want to make Pinot, and when it’s over, we look at each other and laugh as we know we managed to [somehow!] do it again.

Over the past few months we’ve made our blending and barrel selection decisions, and we are extremely happy with them. It looks like we’ll bottle eleven Pinots from 2016. This includes a new Pinot blended from two vineyards on Sonoma Mountain, one at the top along the sandy eastern slope, and one near the base of the west slope that seems planted in shale. Sonoma Mountain is a special place, and dramatically different from other places we get Pinot, and the wine is dramatically different. We’re also bottling a small Pinot blend that celebrates some of our higher elevation vineyards along the coast. These two new wines represent geographic bookends for our vineyard sources- ranging from Sonoma Mountain to the mountain sites in the True Sonoma Coast.

- John Holdredge

Time Posted: Jul 26, 2017 at 11:15 AM
John and Carri Holdredge
March 17, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge

Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “American Dreamer”- A Very Special Wine



A Very Special Wine- A Very Limited Offer.

2015 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “American Dreamer”

If you’ve been a customer for a while you may recall that in May 2005, I wrote about the best day of my life working in a winery. It was the first day my son Will, then 6, worked a full day with me in the winery, racking barrels. He’d had lots of small jobs starting at age 4; but this was the first full day he ever worked. He was so small, he could hardly turn a barrel to clean it. But he struggled through and we worked, and talked, and it was just the best day ever. Until now.

When we started, Saralee Kunde (the winegrower, not the baking company) sold us our first Pinot grapes from her eponymous “Saralee’s Vineyard”. It was the wine that took us from our plan of a Zinfandel and Syrah winery, to making nothing but Pinot. We’ve used those grapes every year since, and the plain fact is that Saralee had a huge impact on our lives; in fact, we wouldn’t be sending this note were it not for her.

She was also a big part of Will’s life too; I taught him to fish in the ponds in the vineyard starting when he was three, and we fished together there many times. He knew her workers, went to events at her home, and just loved that place. Saralee passed from cancer in 2014, and it was a great loss for our community and a loss for our family.

In 2015, as Will and I were racking our wines to prepare for bottling, he mentioned he’d done all “the parts” of winemaking, but he’d never made a wine from start to finish. He had a senior project coming up in school the following year, and decided he would make a wine in 2015, and auction some and donate some of the proceeds from selling some big bottles at auction to an educational barn being built at our local fairgrounds in Saralee’s honor (for ag education for kids).    

The harvest was short in 2015, but we pulled some strings, and somehow managed to get some fruit from “Catie’s Corner” a vineyard Saralee used to own. Our friend Rod Berglund of Joseph Swan freed up a little “Swan Clone” from his rows, which in addition to being a generous move in a small year, was really cool because Rod and Saralee and I had some running jokes about certain Pinot from her vineyard that we “fought” over, and it was great to have Rod part of this story too.

Will did all the winemaking, getting to the winery before school, after school and after homework (he once missed 2 punch-downs because he had to study for and I made him punch-down every fermenter in the winery as payback). There were a couple technical decisions we talked through, but in the end he had to decide what he wanted to do. Personally, I think he made the right decisions all the way through, and I know he made this wine himself. Will came up with the name because Saralee was a dreamer who believed in America and in helping kids chase their dreams, and the barn project will help kids pursue dreams of careers in agriculture.

This wine is absolutely distinctive from all the wines I made- the kid made a great picking decision in an amazing vintage. The wine has fully ripe flavors, but tremendous focus from natural acidity. Will also extracted an amazing amount of tannins from his punch down regimen (oh, to be young and strong again!).  As a result, the wine really has backbone and poise. We drank a bottle over a four night stretch; it is still incredibly young and tightly wound, but each day it became progressively more generous. Young wines with this structure can age a very long time; I fully expect this wine to be the longest-lived wine from our winery for this vintage, and given that structure, I think it may be one that shows well for 15 or more years..

Will sold two large format bottles (3 liter bottles) at auction for a combined $3,300.00! We have very little of this wine in 750ml bottles, so we have to limit this offer to first come/first served. It’ll make a great story to drink someday, and you’ll have a little “Holdredge History” in your cellar until then.

$42 (wine club price: $35.70).  Only 30 cases produced

Buy Now >

John & Carri Holdredge

Time Posted: Mar 17, 2017 at 9:00 AM
John and Carri Holdredge
March 10, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge




We've always said the critics we care about most are our customers, it's what you think of what's in the glass that matters to us most. But it's also nice to get a little critical recognition every now and again, and Virgine Boone of "The Wine Enthusiast" really liked some of our wines:

  • 2014 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir "Judgment Tree" 95 POINTS
  • 2014 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir "Bucher Vineyard" 94 POINTS
  • 2014 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir "Mazie Rose" 94 POINTS
  • 2014 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir "Rolling Thunder" 94 POINTS
  • 2014 Holdredge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir "The True" 94 POINTS
  • 2015 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 92 POINTS

I get a fair number of customers telling us that they usually like one or two wines at most places, but that at our place they like them all, and I guess Ms. Boone felt the same way. We appreciate the validation of our customer's good taste!

Time Posted: Mar 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM
John and Carri Holdredge
February 8, 2017 | John and Carri Holdredge

Wine Club - March 2017



Wine Club – March 2017

With our spring release, we are releasing our last wine from the 2014 vintage. I feel we'll look back on the vintage as a watershed year. Every year we feel like we have learned a lot, but 2014 felt like a year where the kindness of nature and our skill set seemed to just converge, and we were left with some of the best wines we'd made to date. Or more correctly, that nature had made for us.

This is a pretty cool little 4 pack; with two pinots that are from completely opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, and a very rare wine from our other brand- Oscuro (Italian for "obscure"). They are more evolved than our wines usually are simply because they have been cellared longest, so there's no need to wait on any of these- although you certainly can- they will all age well. There are rumors of some forthcoming critical acclaim for some of our 2014s, but in the end, the critic that matters most to us is you. We think you're going to approve of these wines!

Holdredge 2014 "Bucher Vineyard" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Only 125 cases made.
$50/btl (Club Price: $42.50)
I've learned a lot about "place" at Bucher- I work with three different pieces of it, and they have all made decidedly different wines over the last decade, but with a common thread. In 2014, we actually picked our blocks at Bucher later in our schedule than we normally do, with our biggest pick being quite late for us. The weather cooperated, and the fruit seemed content to wait so we let it hang quite a bit longer than usual. Although Westside Road can get warm, we never really had an issue with severe heat (good canopy management by John Bucher helped a lot). So the flavors went far past where they normally are at harvest, and this is a very distinctive Bucher.

This wine just envelopes the palate; it is round, creamy, and full. If the "feel" of wine on your palate is something you understand, you'll love the feel of this wine. The common thread" of our wines from Bucher has been a nose of rose petal, and 2014 is no exception, but it's a much darker rose petal – like a Portland Rose. And the fruit profile is dark- black berries, black cherries, and black plums, with a hint of earthiness. This is a wine you can simply drink (sure, bring on the cheese), but to me, a little rack of spring Lamb would be a perfect pairing. This is a real pleasure to drink, and it has the acidity to hold itself well for some time. I'd suggest drinking them now (like right now!) and over the next 7-8 years.


Holdredge 2014 "Selection Massale" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Only 120 cases made.
$50/btl (Club Price: $42.50)
This one came out of nowhere. Historically, it has always been (except for 2007) our last pick in the Russian River Valley. Because the vineyard is a "mass selection" of Pinot clones, it's usually been a wine with a mix of lighter and darker flavors (again, except for 2007). As I walked this vineyard in the fall of 2014, I was struck by the tannin development, which was way further ahead of where it normally is at the levels of ripeness I tasted. That tannin development is usually slower, and makes us wait to pick, which alters the flavor profile. The last time I had tasted tannins like this in this vineyard, was, you guessed it, 2007.

So, I called the pick earlier than I usually do, and looking back it was a great decision. There is not a speck of black fruit in the flavor profile; it is simply a "perfumed" wine; with a showy, almost ethereal character; the kind of wine you just want to swirl and smell. Beneath that perfume (you'll see, it just jumps out of the glass) there's plenty of red fruit and spice, but at its core, it's the perfume that carries the day.

It is decidedly light in color, and a reminder that for Pinot, color is the least important part of the equation. It is so reminiscent of the 2007 (my favorite from this vineyard), except this is far more plush. Spring brings a chance to work with light seasonal ingredients, and I can see this complimenting a piece of salmon with some fresh peas. This is drinking well now, but should gain depth and improve for at least the next 6-9 years.


Oscuro 2014 Dry Creek Valley "Schioppettino"
Only 92 cases made.
$38/btl (Club Price: $32.30)
This is an exceedingly rare grape from our other brand- which is in homage to John's Italian roots, and his desire to bring lesser known and sometimes obscure Italian gapes to our customers. They are all grown on volcanic soils (we did find a piece of quartz this year that had no earthly business being in those soils), and in a warmer mountain site, which is respectful of the Italian heritage. This grape, once thought extinct, is only cultivated in several villages in Italy, and we were the first American producer to release one starting in 2004.

The 2014 is Carri's favorite Schioppettino that we've made. She points to the black fruit and cracked pepper, and a subtle little thread of pie cherry woven through it. It has a nice full mouthfeel (always does), and as usual, the tannins are very silky and evolved. We've found this to be a super versatile food wine- from the cheese and cured meats before dinner, to meat (it sings alongside a grilled Chateaubriand with sauce béarnaise), to root vegetables (hello roasted carrots with tamarind), and of course, pasta dishes (non- tomato based). This is a really fun and delicious wine, and as we always say, the best part is you can brown bag it and quiet down that guy who knows everything about wine" (we all know one!).

John & Carri Holdredge

Time Posted: Feb 8, 2017 at 4:18 PM