For now, we have decided to wait a little while to re-open the tasting room. We are really looking forward to seeing people again, but we are still deciding the best way to make it safe and fun for everyone, and compatible with our layout - which is still a working winery before all else. So, while we are still selling wine, we just aren’t able to do it in person as of yet.
We decided that since we can’t host you right now, the next best thing is to continue to offer complimentary shipping, the price of which is included in any new orders of six (6) or more bottles of wine!
Wine is available for purchase online (www.holdredge.com), and a refrigerated shipping option is available. Of course, we are still providing “safe” curbside pickup at the winery by appointment, so it’s been great to see people, and we have had a lot of fun doing local delivery (Gracie cannot wait to get her license!).
The Cheese Course
We turned to our friend Kate O’Donnell, the Cheese Monger at Big John’s in Healdsburg. Kate is super talented, and came up with some great pairings. Most are available nationally, but if your local specialty store doesn’t have them, they should be able to recommend something similar.
Artikass “Hay There!” (a Gouda with truffles from the Netherlands); Point Reyes Cheese Co. “Toma” (cow cheese creamy, buttery with a little zip to finish); and Cypress Grove “Humboldt Fog”, (a soft goat cheese; they also make a “Truffle Tremor” which is similar to the Fog, but has truffles. It’s another great pairing, and we sometimes use it in a potato gratin).
“P’tit Basque” (widely available, a hand-made sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees;
Jasper Hills Farm (Vermont) “Cabot Clothbound” Cheddar; Bucheron (a goat cheese from the Loire Valley- many producers); and Gruyere- Kate said pick your favorite.
*Like wine, cheese is a matter of taste and preference.
John and Carri
Wine Club – March 2020
And now.....the first wines from the 2018 vintage. It’s always emotional to release new wines- we started walking the vineyards for this harvest two years ago, we vinified the grapes a year and a half ago, we bottled the wines seven months ago, and we’ve been waiting to release them since then. There is a lot of reflection that one goes through after the wine is in bottle; you wonder if the things that made the wines special to you before they went into bottle will be there when you release them. In this instance, the answer is a resounding “yes!”. This shipment covers some cool places in Sonoma County, from the Russian River Valley, to Fort Ross - Seaview, to Freestone; to say we are excited about these wines is a bit of an understatement.
Holdredge 2018 “Pratt-Sexton” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- New Vineyard!! Only 78 cases made. $54/btl (Club Price: $45.90)
One of the neighborhoods I’ve always wanted to work with is around Freestone. It’s an extremely cold area- it’s a pretty straight shot from Bodega/the Pacific too. The maritime influence in that area (read: cold weather) defines the wines that come from there- with brilliant acidity (grapes don’t respire as much acid in cold as they do in heat). Jim Pratt is a grower who quietly oversees some very special places- among them this vineyard on Sexton Road (hence the name Pratt-Sexton). Sexton runs south from Bodega Highway (it’s the second road east of Freestone). The vineyard is planted on a hillside at around 950-foot elevation, and in that cold climate, Dijon clones express extremely well – this is all 777.
Perhaps most distinctive about this vineyard is a savory character that runs through the wines it produces; that element defines our 2018. There is an expression in French: “sous bois”, which translates to “forest floor”, but not so much in reference to dirt- but in reference to the varying mélange of plants and underbrush etc.in the forest. Tasting this, I think of walking across a forest floor on a bed of pine needles- your boots never touching the soil, your jeans brushing against wild herbs. But ultimately, it’s not about what I smell as I walk through that “forest” – it’s about what I feel. Deep conifer forests have a quiet and patient voice, and this wine has that personality. It’ll be fun to watch develop, especially over the next 6-8 years, but it’s really drinking well right now. 105 cases made. Drink now until 2027.
Holdredge 2018 “Three Sisters Vineyard” Fort Ross- Seaview Pinot Noir- New Release! Only 126 cases made. $70/btl (Club Price: $59.50)
At 1250 foot elevation, this is our highest elevation vineyard- planted in weathered slate soils that seem to demand patience. In 2018, we took a chance and delayed the picking of this vineyard- even through the late September rains. I felt if we got through them in good shape, these grapes might show something even more special. Given the potential for disaster, it was a leap of faith, that in retrospect I’m glad I made (although there was definitely some nail-biting along the way!).
This wine beguiles me – not just for how it straddles elegance and power, or the flavor components, or even for the acid - which allows the wine, with all that power, to still speak with precision. But what really draws me in is an aromatic note of crushed flowers. We’ve made plenty of Pinots with floral notes- but this isn’t the aromas of rose petals or violets- it’s completely different- it’s the smell of fresh crushed flowers and it's beautiful.
What’s fun about this is that even though it has the depth and structure to pair with rich foods with bold flavors (Rack of Lamb is always a smashing pairing for wines from this vineyard; which historically was a sheep ranch), it can work equally well with a lot of other foods. We had it (to write these notes) with a selection of cheeses with a little of our “backyard” lavender-orange blossom honey drizzled on a couple of them, and it was wonderful. This one is delicious now, a little decanting for the next few months won’t hurt, and I think if you are the patient sort, you’ll be able to enjoy these for a good while. If such things matter to you (as they do to me), Carri says it’s her favorite wine we’ve made from this vineyard. 120 cases made. Drink now to 2027.
Holdredge 2018 “Petits Cadeaux” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release! Only 148 cases made. $54/btl (Club Price: $45.90)
We take multiple clones from the Martaella Vineyard and typically do two different picks a couple of weeks apart. Usually, the tiniest berry clones (90, 96, and Hanzell) compromise the biggest parts of this wine – around 80-90%. But all the fruit from there in 2018 (Pommard, Martini, and AS-8 clones) was ridiculously good, and we ended up with a blend that was only about 55% of the tiny berry clones; the other clones were just that good. It showed a lot of baby fat when it was young, but has continued to evolve into a nicely structured wine.
This vineyard has always spoken with a big voice, and the 2018 is no exception, but it has a personality that is both opulent and dignified. Walking this vineyard, I always sense its personality, which is it is somewhat apart from others on the Olivet Bench. Largely owing to topography and farming, it is the best part of that neighborhood. If you listen to the place, it's impossible not to feel that in its voice. I think that reflects in the way it presents itself, it is a big wine that somehow still has a deftness.
In terms of flavor profiles, the aromatics are very much like the 2014, but it has the mouthfeel and richness of the 2013. I tend to enjoy this wine a bit sooner than some of our others, but this one will continue to develop. 150 cases made. Drink now to 2025.
John & Carri Holdredge
Wine Club – December 2019
These wines are the last to be released from the 2017 vintage- and the 16 months in the bottle have had a profound impact on them. I’ve been surprised by how much these have evolved, even just since August. All of these are ready to drink now- and will handle whatever holiday foods you might pair with them. We wish you a great holiday season, filled with the love of family and friends!
Holdredge 2017 “The True” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- Only 101 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50) The early season heat that hammered Sonoma County in late August was least influential in the Annapolis area, where this wine is grown. The closest proximity to the ocean of all the sites we work within the “true” Sonoma Coast allowed what marine influence there was to keep things moderate. The grapes had barely begun veraison at that time, so they were able to shrug off the heat, and the flavors and sugars developed after the heat, and at a rather moderate pace.
In the glass, it is initially the most red-fruit and floral driven wine from this vineyard that nature has given us for a few years. But as it opens in the glass, deeper-toned aromatics emerge. While it initially seems a medium-bodied wine, with some time in the glass, a ton of richness emerges. It’s really quite graceful, and even some very fine tannins coat the palate (the result of a LOT of hand punch-downs!) Drink now, although we are still decanting it- a little air makes for a world of happiness. It should continue to develop over the next 7-8 years. 94 points- Jeb Dunnuck
Holdredge 2017 “Saralee’s Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - Only 95 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50) If you know our story, you know our journey into Pinot began at Saralee’s Vineyard in 2001. We lived just down the road, we knew and loved Saralee, and our son learned to fish in her ponds when he was almost 4- so the place carries some real meaning, besides growing delicious grapes. Saralee passed in 2014, but Jackson Family Wines (La Crema) now own the vineyard and are kind enough to sell us grapes.
When we finally opened our first bottle of this vintage, the first entry in my tasting notes says it all: “Classic SL”. It has the lifted red fruit, round mid-palate, and nice palate weight we always get from there- and to me, it is quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. While this is always a wine that is delicious when young, it always develops a ton of nuance in the bottle. As we tasted the bottle (Ok, “drank”), I kept thinking about past vintages- and the 2017 is very reminiscent of the 2005, which was (and is) one of my favorite wines from that vineyard. I expect it to offer great drinking pleasure to 2028. I think it really captures the voice of this place, which has, over the years, become a good friend of mine.
Holdredge 2017 “Rolling Thunder” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - New Release! Only 123 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50) The two strains of Pinot we take from this vineyard (Pommard and 828), situated on a mountain top outside Occidental, are completely different, from bud break to cluster morphology, to the flavor profile. We usually pick them from 8-10 days apart, and vinify them separately, and barrel and keep them separate until blending. The 828 (picked first) was excellent, but the Pommard just seemed to have something very special. As I kept tasting the Pommard in barrel, I kept asking myself, “can this really be this good?” In a word, yes. As good as the 828 was, and it was really good, the more Pommard we worked into the blend, the more we liked the wine. The 2017 is 93% Pommard clone (the most we’ve ever used).
True to its name and place, this is a full-bodied wine that is all about power on the one hand but without sacrificing a sense of elegance. The aromatics cover a broad spectrum, from candied dark cherries and black tea to violets and dried orange rind notes. There is a purity about it- with tremendous focus, a concentrated mid-palate, and some ultra-fine tannins. Though full-bodied, it is really quite complete- a balanced wine that one person said: “just glides over the palate”. Indeed. Drink now until 2026. 93 Points-Jeb Dunnuck
Holdredge 2017 “Upper Elevations” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - New Release!
Only 101 cases made. $60/btl (Club Price: $51) This is our blend from three of the “true” Sonoma Coast vineyards we work with: Martinelli “Three Sisters” Vineyard (Fort Ross Seaview- 2nd ridge in from the Pacific, Josephine Soils at elevation 1260); the Campbell Ranch (Annapolis- 2nd ridge in from the Pacific, Goldridge soils at elevation 750); and the “Riddle Ranch” (Occidental area, 3rd Ridge in from the Pacific, Goldridge soils at elevation 950).Each of these places has a distinctive character- Martinelli for its notes of lifted red fruit and silky palate; Campbell (the True), which straddles power and elegance; and Riddle Ranch (“Rolling Thunder”), a consistent testament to power. The final blend is 38% “Three Sisters”, 29% “The True, and 33% “Rolling Thunder” (the 2016 was only 9% Rolling Thunder).
When we tasted it in late October, Carri’s first comment was “wow, that just absolutely jumps out of the glass!”, and it really does. The aromatics are a wonderful mix of black cherries, red licorice, and very ripe strawberries. The mouthfeel is rich and expansive, and to call it “silky” only captures part of its appeal. Although at any given moment I might identify aspects from one of the wines in the blend, moments later I might identify an aspect of a different wine. It continues to evolve in the glass and is simply delicious right now. Drink now until 2027.
John & Carri Holdredge
Wine Club – Fall 2019
So much to say, so little space to say it in. Having just bottled the 2018s, and waiting for the 2019 harvest to start (we’re ready!!), it’s been fun to re-visit these wines from 2017 as we assembled this club shipment. We are including three Pinots; two of which have been part of our lineup for some time, the third of which is newer to the mix, somewhat iconic, and has already garnered a following. We round it out with the last “Schioppettino” we will be releasing for a while, but this one is a doozy! We continue to be grateful for the many blessings in our lives; and we hope these wines convey how we feel about this very special place we call home.
Holdredge 2017 “Judgment Tree” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release Only 102 cases made. $70/btl (Club Price: $59.50)
In 2017, I may have walked Rochioli more than any other vineyard we work with. I just wasn’t feeling like it was ready- I liked the flavors a lot, but it just wasn’t speaking to me. Then one morning in mid-September, on my way back from vineyard checks on the coast, I stopped by for a quick taste, though I wasn’t expecting much difference. It was a classic cool Russian River morning, and as I walked uphill through the profound “hush” that only a heavy fog can bring, it felt like there wasn’t another being in the universe as far as I could tell. At that moment, I finally heard the vineyard. We picked the following day.
This wine was one of those that made itself in many ways. It was slow to start fermenting (native yeasts sometimes have their own thoughts), and finished slowly too, with really good extraction; the total time on the skins was 24 days. Early on, it showed a fair amount of grip which is typical of that vineyard, but I’ve learned to be patient there, as the tannins always resolve into very fine tannins. While this wine has plenty of red fruit, it isn’t at all “candied”, it’s really more of a mulled fruit note- and those superfine tannins really carry the finish, which lasts a good while. I plan on drinking this over the next 7-9 years.
Holdredge 2017 Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir- “Steiner-Dry Stack Vineyards” - New Release Only 95 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50)
This is the second wine we’ve blended from these two vineyards (we’ve worked with Steiner since 2012), and I continue to be drawn into the dynamic of blending wines from two very distinctive sites on the same slope of the mountain. Dry Stack (lower slopes) came in quite early (second wine in the barn), and showed a pretty dynamic (exuberant) personality from day one. The Steiner (upper slopes), true to its place, was picked three weeks later and has always been darker, more pensive, and broader across the palate. In the blend, the Dry Stack provided a
focused core of red fruit, while Steiner lent richness to the palate. This year we blended slightly more Dry Stack into the blend; as we added more, we just liked the resulting structure of the wine even more. If you like aromatics of strawberries, cherries, and dried flowers, you’ll love this one. The 2016 took a while to reveal itself- but ended up as one of the “crowd favorites” of all the 2016s. Drink now and for the next 6-8 years.
Holdredge 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – Bucher Vineyard New Release Only 125 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50)
In a way, this wine reflects a full circle at Bucher. Our first wine from there in 2006 was all from the “Pear Tree” block- the northernmost block at Bucher (about a 1⁄2 mile north of the ranch entrance). Pear Tree is planted almost entirely to clone 667 and has always been the backbone of our wines from Bucher. Beginning in 2008, we began getting grapes from other parts of the ranch, which have been used in varying amounts over the years. 2017 marked a return to 100% Pear Tree block- it is simply better by itself, and no amount of blending gave us a better wine.
This definitely shows full ripeness, with a darker color than the others in this release. The red fruit is more to the dark cherry side of things, and the telltale rose petal aromatic note we get from Bucher is darker as well. It definitely is fleshy in the palate, but still holds the finish. This summer, we’ve been having it with a lot of grilled meats (it’s amazing how well a boneless pork chop and this wine go together). We are definitely enjoying it now- but it should continue to develop nicely for another 5-7 years.
Oscuro 2016 Dry Creek Valley “Schioppettino” - New Release!
Only 84 cases made. $45/btl (Club Price: $38.25) In 2004, we made and released the very first Schioppettino in North American history. It has been a lot of fun learning about this grape, and it opened us to some other amazing Cal-Ital wine possibilities. But our growing portfolio of Pinot places serious demands on our winemaking time and energy, so with some sadness, I must report that this may be the last Schioppettino we make for a while (although Carri has pointed out that I sometimes go to “Happyland”- which she says is at the junction of no business sense and no impulse control; so never say never).
But if we gotta say “ciao”, this is the vintage to do it with- talk about going out with a bang – this wine just smacks you in the face with a noted of cracked pepper, followed by mulberries, dark cherries, and blackberries. It is at once rich and focused, but I think it expresses luxuriousness as much as anything. Over the years, we’ve marveled at how versatile this wine is with food. Last night, I harvested some late potatoes, onions, parsley, and a few green beans from the garden, cooked some bacon, and made a simple potato salad with a little olive oil and the slightest hint of vinegar. Just wonderful. You’ll be able to enjoy this wine with food (or by itself) for the next 6-9 years.
John & Carri Holdredge
I’ve been looking forward to this release for a good while. It includes a first-ever Pinot blended from multiple vineyards in the “true” Sonoma Coast, and the “Montepulciano” from our “Oscuro” brand. They are the last of our wines from 2016. It also includes our first two Pinots from the 2017 vintage, two wines that couldn’t be more different. I’m really excited about these wines- these last wines from 2016 have totally been worth waiting for, and the 2017s are already revealing the elegant character of the vintage. We already find ourselves ignoring our own mantra of being patient and are opening all of these- and while the vintages are decidedly different, Nature has shaped them both to offer a lot of pleasure.
Holdredge 2016 “Upper Elevations” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- New Release! Only 80 cases made. $55/btl (Club Price: $46.75)
We’ve been keeping a secret from you. I know, I know, transparency is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, but it’s also true that a little mystery, and the occasional surprise, keeps things fresh.... I’ve been dying to share the secret, but the time just wasn’t right- until now! As we raised the 2016 vintage wines (“elevage”), I kept thinking about how exciting it is to be able to work with multiple sites up in the mountains of the “true” Sonoma Coast. As I’d taste through the barrels, I’d ruminate about their differences despite that common thread. And ultimately, I began exploring a possible blend of the three. I finally came up with a blend I thought worth bottling as a separate wine, and when I poured it for Carri, she loved it. This is that wine.
It is a blend of the Martinelli “Three Sisters Vineyard” (53%), The True” (38%), “and “Rolling Thunder” (9%). Our blending trials began with almost 20% Rolling Thunder, but as we kept working on it, the adage “less is more” came into play, and we thought it hit a great spot at 9% from Rolling thunder as it seemed more high-toned from increased amounts of the other vineyards. It has substantial palate weight, a flavor profile that includes black licorice, red licorice, macerated strawberries, and very ripe red raspberries. It is both pretty and powerful, but still has a sense of restraint. We’ve had it with a wide range of foods, but grilled salmon with a touch of beurre blanc has been the superstar. Drink now until 2026.
Holdredge 2017 “Three Sisters Vineyard” Fort Ross/Seaview Pinot Noir- New Release! Only 100 cases made. $70/btl (Club Price: $59.50)
This is our second release from this very special vineyard. Situated some 1250 feet above sea level in the Fort Ross Seaview sub-appellation of the Sonoma Coast, it’s a long, twisting drive to get out there to taste grapes, but the spirit of the place makes it completely worthwhile. The area has a very distinct microclimate; the vineyard seemed nonplussed by the early heat that had accelerated ripeness in other parts of the County. Each time I went out, I kept thinking “these have a long way to go”, but then one day, it was as if it suddenly made up its mind, and decided it was time.
The ferment (wild yeast as always) kicked off more quickly than usual (only four days), and was marked by higher temperatures; it crested at 92 degrees, and as a result, fermented rather rapidly for us (about 11 days). So, instead of pressing it off and finishing in barrel, I made the decision to prolong the skin contact
to extract a little more skin tannin. I blanketed the fermenters with argon, and let it rest. Emblematic of this vineyard, it has a red fruit flavor profile, and as has been our experience, is quite light in color. Those that would judge the depth and complexity of a Pinot by simply looking at the color would be seriously mistaken to do so with this wine. Superfine tannins (from the extended skin contact) frame the palate, and the weight belies the color. But I think it expresses the emotion of the vineyard in a most extraordinary way- there is a lifted, almost ethereal quality to it, like those the red fruit notes are fluffy clouds- light red pillows if you will, which, for a vineyard sitting at a 1250-foot elevation that is often blanketed in the clouds, is perhaps as true to its origin as a wine can be. Drink now to 2028.
Holdredge 2017 “Petits Cadeaux” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release! Only 130 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50)
This was our first pick of 2017, literally in the midst of an oppressive heat wave that, as I saw it, was not going to help the tiny berries that make this wine. Oddly, despite the oppressive heat, the grapes kept their shape and didn’t shrivel, but the juice content was exceedingly low- as though they had simply given away moisture without changing shape. Obviously, we love a big ratio of skin to juice, and this played to that preference. It leads to a more extracted wine with a bigger structure. But I’ll also say the first rounds of punch-downs during the cold soak were like trying to push through concrete!
Our first showing of the wine was at barrel weekends last March, and it was an absolute smash hit. It is big, round, and weighty, and carries a huge note of blackberries, and Burbank plum skin. In terms of the palate, it carries a creaminess and elegance- but isn’t ponderous. For now, we are decanting it for a couple of hours (you can just open and drink it, but the nose really opens up, and the wines gains considerable weight with decanting). It’s fabulous on its own, but we paired it with Pinot braised short ribs and a reduction sauce, and it was out of this world. Drink now to 2025
Oscuro 2016 Dry Creek Valley “Montepulciano” - New Release!
Only 56 cases made. $42/btl (Club Price: $35.70) This grape is indigenous to south-central Italy, and while it became known for making “carafe wines”, it has experienced a renaissance as its noble pedigree is being respected by a new generation of winemakers. Our version comes from the hills above Dry Creek Valley, is grown on volcanic soils (as any Italian grape should be), and is nothing like our Pinots.
Sit down and pour a glass, but you’d better buckle your seatbelt! This is a massive, black fruit-driven wine (think the blackest blackberries on the planet). Where past vintages have shown more tannins, this is just round, voluptuous and silky across the palate. It is not for someone who wants “delicate” wines! If you enjoy Zinfandel, you’ll likely love this grape. We had it with a mushroom/Bechamel lasagna and thought it was a great match, but then we had it with 72-hour sous vide beef brisket and it rocked our world. Drink now. Or tomorrow. It’s just that fun.
John & Carri Holdredge
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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.