Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to get right. Thin-skinned and temperamental, it’s among the most delicate varieties, and the conditions must be near perfect to produce exceptional fruit. So why would a winery known for its award-winning Chardonnay even bother with such an intractable addition?
It’s a fair question, and one that’s been asked on more than a few occasions. The original inspiration had a lot to do with the vision of former Director of Winemaking, Terry Adams. It took some convincing to get the team on board. Rumor has it, a covert late-night planting session was required to produce evidence that Pinot Noir is, in fact, an ideal fit for Sonoma-Cutrer’s terroir.
Producing Pinot is a natural evolution for a winery grounded in Burgundian winemaking traditions. The two major grape varietals grown in Burgundy, France happen to be Chardonnay and – you guessed it – Pinot Noir.
It doesn’t hurt that the Russian River Valley boasts near ideal conditions for growing Pinot Noir grapes. Recently, Wine Enthusiast© magazine even named the winery’s home turf one of the top six areas for growing exceptional Pinot Noir.
The goal of Sonoma-Cutrer has always been to craft wines that reflect their unique terroir, and Pinot Noir is no exception. The grapes come from The Cutrer, Vine Hill, Owsley and Les Pierres vineyards. The unique terroir of each vineyard, from Owsley’s dramatic temperature fluctuations to Vine Hill’s 400-foot elevation change, is directly responsible for producing fruit with concentrated, complex flavors.
The meticulous craft and attention to detail required to produce extraordinary Pinot is a natural fit for Sonoma-Cutrer – even when it means processing by hand and building an entirely separate production facility known as “The Pinot Barn.”
It’s been more than a decade since the winery’s first foray into Pinot Noir production, and today four distinctive varieties are among Sonoma-Cutrer’s offerings. Among a well-decorated group, the popular Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has been awarded a gold medal from some of the most prestigious wine competitions every year since 2009.
Twelve years into the “experiment,” Pinot Noir is no longer the new kid on the block, and has proven to be a worthy companion to Sonoma-Cutrer’s fine Chardonnays.