CA Pinot Producers using 100% Whole Cluster

Recognizing there have been a number of general posts across threads about the increasing use of whole clusters by CA producers who make lower alcohol (dare I say balanced) pinots, I wanted to learn which specific producers/bottling/vintages are 100% WC?

In fact, what I’d love to do is find/buy/try two side by side from the same producer/vintage/vineyard combo one with and one without 100% WC. Of course that’s a dream, although I was signed up for the Pinot Seminar at this year’s IPOB in SF and unfortunately had to miss due to a stomach flu, but I heard that someone poured this exact set-up…woe is me for missing. So, I’m trying to figure out if I can replicate on my own and would love some guidance.

You’ll find few producers who blindly put 100% without regard to vintage characteristics.

That being said a great one to try is Windy Oaks “Whole Cluster” (100%) pinot versus their “estate cuvee”. Their wc bottling is one of my favorites.

Isn’t Brewer Clifton doing whole cluster? Not sure if it is 100% though.

As for differences in profile, I had a hard time putting into words the differences until a winemaker told me that he finds the midpalate gains some “lift” or lightness with higher percentages of whole cluster. I found that a good description.

For aromatics I typically find more florals and chinese spices (clove, white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe anise) in whole cluster pinots.

Arcadian also uses stems.

There have been a couple of recent threads that list a bunch of producers:

Whole cluster / stem inclusion - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers (Whole cluster/stem inclusion)

Tell me about stems please...(not glassware) - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers (Tell me about stems)

TNs: Single Blind 2009 CA Pinot - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers (TN: 2009 California pinots, with discussion of stems)

Jamie Goode has a good posting on the issues on his web site, too: Whole bunch fermentations and use of stems in red winemaking


If you are ever up in Sonoma and we have yet to blend various lots, I’d be happy to have you taste some all-destemmed vs. high % whole cluster Pinot Noir from the same vineyards. I’ve largely moved away from 100% whole cluster as I find that I can get much the same character at 80% and avoid some the VA/EA issues that I see sometimes with 100% whole clusters. And Cary is right, we don’t do it every vintage…but we almost always have something from somewhere.

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

I’m pretty sure that Jamie Kutch does some whole cluster.

Adam, That is a very interesting comment.

Personally I love some whole cluster, but from experience would say that the winemaker needs to exercise some control depending on the clusters that come in. I’ve had way too much variability in PNs where whole cluster was over done. Also whole cluster PNs are much more in need of air/decanting as they age far as I can tell.

I think Native9 is 100% WC. I think some of the Sandhi bottlings also.

The 2009 Native9 is 100% WC, the 2010 is 80%. And as you noted, a couple of the Sandhi bottlings are 100%. I believe most of the Calera single-vineyard Pinots are 100% WC. I noted a several other 100% WC Pinots in my notes from the February IPOB tasting in San Francisco:
In Pursuit of Balance – 3rd Annual San Francisco Tasting

Stewart, you’ve been using a lot of whole clusters in your recent Pinots, haven’t you?

Thanks all, this is great insight.

And Adam, I’d love to take you up on your gracious and awesome offer. I’m actually in Marin so could easily schedule a visit when the timing is right. I’ll follow up with a PM.

Off the top of my head

Flowers (recent vintages)
Windy oaks 100%whole cluster

Adam, what wines do you make with whole cluster? I wasn’t aware you used them, for some reason I thought,you believed in 100% destemming.

I too have the sense that the AFWE pinot makers are mostly the ones using substantial stem inclusion, but it may also just be that they are the ones who talk about it more, or that they are just the only California pinot producers we talk about on this board so they’re the only ones we hear about in regards to their stem inclusion. Is there a strong correlation in this regard, and if so, why?

I’m not trying to be judgmental either way, but I’m just curious what those two things (ripeness/alcohol/modernity and stem inclusion) have to do with each other, if anything.

If the OP is truly only interested in 100% wc versus 0, then Rhys isn’t always 100%. For example in 2011, Alpine and Horseshoe had 0 stems.
Outside of 2011, it still depended on the vintage and Rhys whole cluster usage ranged from 40-100%.


Vintage dependent (as I mentioned)…but generally we use whole cluster on certain lots from Hirsch, Rosella’s, Sierra Mar, and Clos Pepe (and consequently, Sonoma Coast, SLH, and SRH Appellation Pinots). There are other sections from other vineyards, less frequently, but those are the most common.

Oh, and our use in Oregon probably goes up and down more than other areas, depending on the vintage and fruit condition, etc.

My favorite Pinot Noir we’ve ever produced, the 1999 Christian David (from the Hirsch Vineyard) was 40% whole cluster, fwiw.

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

Yes, since many winemakers fear using underripe stems, you might think that those who make their pinots in a riper style might be more inclined to use more stems, but the correlation seems to be the other way around.


I know that Kevin Harvey has talked about factors that influence stem ripeness. From my experience, one of the things I have noticed is that stem ripeness and length of hang time seem to go together. So, though it is somewhat counterintuitive, cooler sites which can hang longer with slower ripening are more likely to get riper stems. So the sites sought out by those who want riper Pinot Noir are not often sites that get ripe stems.

Might be interesting also to look at the ages of folks that are making Pinots…and what influence (direct or otherwise) Jayer’s aversion to stems had on winemakers who looked at Burgundy as a guide to whether or not winemakers here use stems… Just a thought…

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

It isn’t Cali Pinot, but Archery Summit did a 0% and 100% WC bottling from the Red Hills vineyard in the '08 vintage. I believe some of them are still available at the winery.

(Full Disclosure: my wife is the wine club manager at Archery Summit)