🍇 Claire Hill Wines - 30% OFF ALL WINES + Free Case Shipping THROUGH MONDAY

Happy Berserker Day 15! I am so excited to be back for my 2nd Berserker Day. For those who don’t know me, I make Chardonnay and Syrah from old vine family vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino, as well as a bit of Zinfandel from the Sierra Foothills (though with the past few vintages lost to fire, frost, and drought, 2019 is my last release!). Berserker Day is the only time I ever offer discounts on my wines, though free case shipping is year-round. The discount code is BD15.

For Berserker Day this year:

  • 30% off ALL wines using code BD15
  • Free UPS Ground shipping on case orders
  • I’m offering the new as of yet unreleased vintages of 2022 Grist Vineyard Syrah ($45$31.50) and 2022 Lolonis Vineyard Chardonnay ($35$24.50). Those wines will be released later this year to the general public and to my distributors.

As things are still quite cold across the US and packages are backed up at sorting centers, I’ll hold off on shipping orders until they can safely travel via UPS Ground, likely in February for most. If you want to hold shipping until a particular date, you have the option to set that in the checkout process.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me either by responding to this thread or by email at claire@clairehillwines.com. I’ll be checking this thread and email all day so I’ll get back to you quickly.

2019, 2021, 2022 vertical of Grist Vineyard Syrah ($100) - SOLD OUT

This very limited package includes the three wines I have made from Grist’s old vine Syrah block. 2019 is extremely limited and I’m quite literally pulling from 2 of the 3 cases I keep to drink or open for friends. 2022 has not been officially released yet, and 2021 is still the current release. In 2020 I elected not make this wine because of smoke taint concerns after some small scale test fermentations. Ultimately, come harvest time, the vineyard was in an evacuation zone and so nothing came out of Grist that year.

The only way to access the order page is via this link. This page is not accessible via my main website, so you’ll need to come back here to grab the link again if you navigate away.

ORDER SYRAH VERTICAL

2022 Lolonis Vineyard Chardonnay ($35$24.50)

Lolonis is one of California’s finest heritage vineyards, and the old vine Chardonnay parcel planted in the winter of 1946-47 perhaps the state’s oldest extant planting.1946 was a landmark year for first plantings of Chardonnay in California. In addition to the Lolonis family planting this block of Chardonnay, the first (intentional) plantings of Chardonnay occurred in Napa at Stony Hill and Mayacamas using Wente selections. 1946 also saw the first Chardonnay planted at Mount Eden, using Masson selections collected from Meursault earlier that century. As far as I know, Lolonis is the only surviving Chardonnay vineyard from that period.

The land has been in the Lolonis family since 1901, when they first immigrated from Greece, with the first vines planted during WWII. This vineyard has been farmed organically since the beginning and is certified by CCOF. This old vine Chardonnay block is dry farmed and produces exceptionally small yields of beautiful quality.

Vintage Notes

In 2022, California was at the peak of its extreme drought and my 3 acre block of old vine Chardonnay yielded only 4 barrels. “Normal” yields for a vineyard farmed to make ultra premium wines might see yields of 2-3 tons per acre, translating to 12-18 barrels for a 3 acre block. This vineyard’s continued survival is a testament to the Lolonis family’s sense of pride in these vines, and I feel incredibly honored that they have entrusted me with them. The yields on these old vines are so far below being commercially viable, even in a normal rainfall year, which is why so many other old vines in the state have been ripped out and replanted.

The 2022 vintage gave the same incredibly small clusters seen in 2021, but with fewer clusters per vine. While 2021 has intense concentration and salinity, 2022 has intense concentration and texture. There is still a little bit of 2021 remaining, if you prefer Jura Chardonnay over warm vintage Burgundy. While both wines see full ML, 2021 is saline Makrut lime and 2022 is textured Meyer lemon.

After whole cluster pressing and settling overnight, the must is racked to neutral French oak where it stays until being racked just before bottling. After primary fermentation is complete, I do move one of the barrels to stainless steel, and this vessel is then used to keep the others topped throughout élevage. The wine goes through full ML and is then lightly sulfured. I bottled this wine after 11 months of aging, and then held it back an additional 6 months prior to release.

ORDER CHARDONNAY

2022 Grist Vineyard Syrah ($45$31.50)

Sitting high above the Dry Creek Valley atop Bradford Mountain (1,000 feet elevation), this Syrah has more in common with the Sonoma Coast than with Dry Creek Valley. Only 15 miles from the ocean as the crow flies and perched up above the fogline, Grist Vineyard has a long, temperate growing season that allows for complex and developed flavors at lower potential alcohol. There’s a fantastic natural acidity to the grapes from here that brings freshness and verve. The soils here are Boomer loam, a red volcanic rock that gives low yields and concentrated fruit. The vines are trained in double cordon.

This organically farmed Syrah block was planted in 1983, unusually old for California Syrah. The oldest Syrah vines in the state are found in heritage mixed vineyards where they are interplanted with Grenache, Mission, and Alicante, but the oldest modern plantings began in 1975 with Gary Eberle’s cuttings from Chapoutier in Tain l’Hermitage. In 1977, Joseph Phelps released the first varietal bottling of Syrah in the 20th century (Patrick Comiskey’s book ‘American Rhône’ presents an excellent history of Syrah in California). In 1980, Jim Clendenen, Adam Tolmach, and Bob Lindquist convinced a grower to graft a block of Petite Sirah to Syrah (Black Bear Block). Bill Hambrecht and his neighbor Fred Peterson, both Rhône lovers, decided to plant Syrah on Bradford Mountain soon after using Gary Eberle’s cuttings by way of Ray Teldeschi.

These are the oldest vines at Grist, as prior plantings were on the ill-advised AXR rootstock that succumbed to phylloxera in the early 80s. The old vine Syrah block is Estrella clone planted on St George rootstock. St George is known for being drought tolerant, vigorous, and for producing looser elongated clusters. Looser clusters result in less disease pressure, and fewer interventions required to keep the fruit quality pristine. Though St George felt out of favor for many years for being overly vigorous (with drought sensitive 101-14 gaining precedence), with old vines on thin topsoil over volcanic rock this added vigor manages to keep the yields reasonable. As climate change accelerates, viticulturists like Steve Matthiasson turn back to St George for its drought tolerance.

Just adjacent to the old vine Syrah block are a few rows of Viognier planted in 1996. The intention had been to plant more Syrah, but a nursery misidentification resulted in Viognier being planted. Given the kismet of it all, the Hambrechts decided to keep the Viognier for co-fermenting with the Syrah. The yields on the Viognier vary wildly each year, but in 2022 about 2% Viognier was co-fermented with the Syrah. Beyond counterintuitively giving more color to the wine, I find that co-fermenting with Viognier brings out the lifted, pretty aromatics of Syrah.

Vintage Notes

2022 was an unusual vintage. Winemakers throughout Sonoma and Mendocino found that phenolic maturity and acid dropping lagged behind sugar development. Alcohols were generally higher, but so was acidity. I chose to pick Grist Syrah at a slightly higher alcohol than normal (13.8%) to avoid the green and underripe flavors I found at 13% potential alcohol. This wine has stronger tannins that in years past, a bit more acid, and a profile that lends itself to 4 or more years’ aging in bottle. If 2021 has tannins reminiscent of pomegranate seeds, then 2022 has Cornas tannins. The fruit leans towards fresh blackberry, like biting into one that still has a zing of acid.

Grist Vineyard is named for the old grist mill on the property from when the mountaintop was first planted to Zinfandel in the late 1800s by Dry Creek’s early Italian immigrants. The Hambrecht family has farmed Grist Vineyard for 4 generations.

One-third whole cluster fermentation with about 2% destemmed Viognier co-fermented. Aged for 11 months in 6th use French oak barrels.

ORDER SYRAH

North Ponderosa Vineyard Zinfandel 2019 ($32$22.40)

While my focus is now on my two first wine loves, Chardonnay and Syrah, I also made Zinfandel from the Sierra Foothills for a spell, until the successive years of lost vintages (frost, fire, drought…) caused me to stop. I absolutely hated this wine for it’s first two years because it was aggressively tannic and high acid. Nearly 5 years later, after 2 years in barrel and 3 years cellared, she’s a beauty and it’s been such a joy drinking it this winter with beef Bourguignon, short rib ragú, and leftover pizza with lots of Calabrian chili paste. Valley Bar + Bottle in Sonoma featured this wine in their December 2023 wine club and I’ve heard so much wonderful feedback on it. This is an old school California wine that is not glou glou, yet goes down a little too easily.

ORDER ZINFANDEL

A bit about me and my winemaking:

I have been making wine for 10 years now. After starting in a UCSF yeast lab as a research assistant in microbiology, then pivoting to a degree in art history, I unsurprisingly found myself working in restaurants trying to figure out what on earth I wanted to do with my life. Early on in my tenure at Commonwealth (RIP), Eric Texier’s Saint-Julien-en-Saint-Alban Syrah was brought on BTG. After tasting it at lineup, I fell in love. I’d known wine could be interesting, but I hadn’t realized that it could be beautiful. From there, I went off and worked my first harvest in Sonoma and began an ultimately successful 3 year campaign to Eric Texier to let me come learn from him for a year.

I’ve worked in the vineyards of Mount Eden and Eric Texier, and in the cellars of Rhys and Unti. For 4 magical years, I worked for a California importer (Farm Wine Imports) and sold the wines of greats like Jean-Louis Chave, Pierre Overnoy, and Alice and Olivier De Moor, all of whom I have been able to have rich conversations with about winemaking and vineyard work. It was an extraordinary education for a young winemaker to be able to have in depth conversations about press cycles with Olivier of Ulysse Collin, or farming in drought prone areas with Arianna Occhipinti.

I don’t make a lot of wine, only a few hundred cases per year, choosing to focus on just a few extraordinary sites. I use sulfur judiciously, wanting to both allow delicate native yeasts to make their magic while also protecting the wine from oxidation and microbial spoilage. I am an obsessive when it comes to winery sanitation and topping up my barrels, labors of paramount importance to let the vineyard express itself most eloquently. Stylistically, my winemaking focuses on capturing delicate aromatics and playing with texture to find balance.

States I can ship to:

I can ship to all of the below states. If I’m unable to ship to your state, I can ship to a UPS Store close to the border where you can pick up.

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, Wisconsin, Wyoming

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In on the 2022 Syrah and Chardonnay - Claire Hill was one of my happiest BD discoveries. Happy to see the wines here again.

Good morning - I got a, case in my cart 1 vertical and 9chards but still looking at $64 shipping instead od free - can you help? Thanks!

Hi James, this should be fixed now. Sorry for the technical issue!

These are fantastic wines I was in for 6 last year, and probably another 6 this year!

Thank You Claire, I’m in for a mixed case…couldn’t pass on the Zin LOL

Will these ship in the spring due to the Chard and Syrah?

Herb

Hi Herb, Wine Berserker orders will ship before the wines are released to everyone else, so weather is the only consideration. The Chardonnay will likely release in early March, and the 2022 Syrah this fall.

Thanks for the quick reply, I hope you have a great Berserker Day!

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In for the Syrah vertical, thank you!

Thanks so much for your support and kind words!

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:heart_eyes: In for the Zin, and the vertical. Great wines, great winemaker.

Oh, and the 2021 Lolonis Chardonnay was a favorite at our Thanksgiving. Thanks, Claire!

Smart move! These wines are great and I especially love the Zinfandel. Not many made in that style.

Do I understand correctly that you do not ship FedEx? I receive my wine through them at the local Walgreens.

Hi Jeff, it looks like you ordered some wine from my cellar mate who does ship FedEx. If you want to place a 6 bottle or less order from me, I can piggyback on Ed’s shipping. I’d refund you the UPS charge you’d pay at checkout, and Ed will just charge you the delta between shipping his 6 bottles and however many of mine you’d like to add. If you add 6 bottles from me, shipping to you would be $28 via FedEx.

Because I use Vimoshipper for licensing, I am otherwise limited to using their UPS account.

I’m in for syrah then! NOBODY puts as much kindness and good karma into the wine world as Ed.

In for another mixed case. Happy to support your winery. Keep up the good work.

Indeed, he is a gem of a human!

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Love Claire’s wines - in for some of her great Syrah!

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