West Sonoma Coast (Extreme coast/Fort Ross Seaview) Pinot Noirs

Hello wanted to see others who may be interested in pinot noirs from this region, recommendations on fruit forward pinots and which pinot noirs with suitcase clone wines that are worth trying. Also open to other region pinots that are suitcase or fruit forward. (generally lean towards destemmed).

Final question, does anyone have a good vintage chart for the region? I have seen the charts, based on your experience are they pretty good? (Reasonably accurate)
Since 2017 ratings are not out yet for the smaller case producers trying to figure out whether I need to buy up previous years wine that have already been rated or if I should buy 2017.
Thank you for the collective sharing of wine experience with the West Sonoma Coast region!! I have definitely been looking back at this thread for additional notes and insights. To summarize the wineries noted:

  • means multiple recommendations, * means wines that i have purchased or tasted.

Peay+* (Savoy, Les Titans), Williams Selyem (Hirsch, Coastlands)+, Syrah from Ft Ross, Raen, Hirsch+, Kutch(McDougall, Bohan)+, Iskaranu (Putnam), Boheme (Cuvée Abigail)+, Kendrick, Wild Hog, Cobb, Littorai(Cerise, Savoy,Hirsch)+, Maybach (Irmagard), Occidental+, Senses, Furthermore, Withers, Rivers-Marie+, Failla, Freeman+, Drew Valenti, Morning Dew Ranch, Phillip Hill, GoldenEye, Baxter, Sojourn(Ridgetop, Walala)+*, Fort Ross, Dutton Goldfield (Freestone).

25-30 recommendations. There is a lot to review, analyze, and cellar. Peay, Failla, Sojourn, Bergstrom, and PG Cellars are ones that I have tried and really like, esp Peay. The technical information is helpful to narrow down my palate. I have also found Wayfarer and Three Sticks (Walala) to be interesting to try. Plan to get to WS, Boheme, and Littorai along with the others that I have cellared but haven’t tried yet.

Im a long time fan of the Peay wines. Their vineyard is a bit north of Ft Ross up in Annapolis. Been there twice and its one of if not the most beautiful vineyard site I’ve seen in CA. Particularly love their Les Titans Syrah in addition to their Pinots. Prices are reasonable and worth checking out if you have not already.

I am a big fan of west sonoma coast wines. with that being said, i am finding that i enjoy what producers outside of the region are doing with the grapes. Primary example is hirsch, who i think producers OK pinot noir at best, but provides others (notably WS) with some of their best fruit. Only thing that i can point to is winemaking - which seems to be done in a very particular AFWE manner. I find most producers could use a little more body in the wines, rather than picking early so that the alc levels are below 13%.

Now - syrah from ft ross - that may be my sleeper pick for fav california wines!

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Thanks for the tip. Got the titans just in case. Waiting for my allocations to arrive. Can’t wait to try them.

Thanks Mike for the tip. I have the Hirsch and I kind of agree with you (they get better after about 2-3 hours). I’ll have to try buying Hirsch vineyard wines produced by other winemakers. Have you tried the same for Pisoni? I have been wondering if they are worth a shot, or their related vineyards.

https://www.raenwinery.com/ I have a few cases of different vintages. These are the Mondavi grandsons…for whatever thats worth.
https://www.hirschvineyards.com/ They are high elevation north of Jenner on the coast. Their wines take some age to develop…can be a bit harsh young but I dig them with age.
https://kutchwines.com/google-earth-vineyards they have a few vineyards within miles of the Ocean, high elevation. I dig their old vine Bohan Vineyard and McDougall Ranch
https://www.williamsselyem.com/wine/2017-coastlands-vineyard-pinot-noir Not WS fruit but I really dig their version of this Coastlands vineyard wine. It’s one of my favorite WS.

mailing list only… but you might be able to scare up a bottle or two retail somewhere.

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Thanks for the tips Wade especially with the specific wines amongst the vintners. (good point about the old vines. I like them better as well)

All excellent suggestions so far.

You should look into Iskaranu’s Putnum Vineyard Pinot, on the coast near Annapolis…in the same ball park as Peay (an excellent option mentioned above). Boheme, from vineyards around Occidental, is another one to look at. Plus, I have ‘Cuvee Abigail’ from the Occidental-Sebastopol area.

Kendric is on the Marin Coast, just immediately south of Occidental & Freestone, and is a worthwhile consideration. They’re more in the Burgundian model than fruit forward…everything I’ve mentioned is somewhere in the Burgundy-fruit spectrum.

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Thanks For Rick for recs. Can’t wait to try them. Also vineyards are helpful. I have a feeling that flowers may still be purchasing putnam fruit.

Not for everyone, but i love what daniel does up at wild hog - again, not with pinot necessarily but i think he grows some super interesting syrah and zinfandel!

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Another few to consider:
Cobb, Littorai, Maybach (Irmgard), Occidental, Senses, Furthermore, Withers, Rivers Marie, Failla, Freeman—all making fine expressions from the region.

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Thanks Michael and Kurt. Will definitely look them up. May have to rethink a Lorttorai allocation. Only pinot makes me go down to the soil, vine, stem/destemmed, and clone level. Luckily many us winemakers will share the info if you ask. Not so sure about burgundy ones. Cabs are a bit more uniform. I’m partial to 828.

This is one of my favorite regions for California Pinot, maybe my favorite. I don’t think of it as fruit forward though (for a huge generalization), instead showcasing fruit married to great balance, minerality, and density. I like many of those mentioned here but especially love Occidental (any, but their regional blend is an excellent introduction to the style) and Littorai’s Hirsch.

I very highly recommend the West of West tasting event (travels, but the one I’ve been to is in Northern Cal in August). No better way to sample most of the producers in the region. One clear challenge is that this is a small region with small producers and hard to find wines, so buying direct is very common, or required.

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By the way, if you like these wines, you might want to explore the Anderson Valley. The higher altitude Pinots have a similar profile, eg. Littorai’s Cerise or Savoy, Drew’s Valenti or Morning Dew Ranch, Philips Hill, and many more. Goldeneye makes very good AV pinots in a bigger, richer style.

Savoy is a wonderful site. It’s the only non estate vineyard designate pinot peay makes and is wonderful as well as their estate pinots

I’d add Freeman. Had their wines at West of West and at several restaurants. Would like to do a winery visit to explore them more. Just what I need, another list.

Fogline is a producer making good quality pinot noir, at reasonable prices and not too hard to get, from good spots on the Sonoma Coast.

They’re neither the super lean wines, nor fruit bombs. More towards the former than the latter, but I think with pretty broad appeal for serious wine people.

Thanks Rich, David, James, and Chris. I’ll definitely have to seek out Anderson Valley Pinot’s. I was trying to go to the occidental west of the west, didn’t work schedule wise. Hope they come to nyc again and I can catch it. Rich, didn’t mean to imply the West Sonoma Coast is fruit forward. Rather that of the West Sonoma Coast pinot’s, I like the fruit forward ones. I have a preference for the fruit forward Pinot’s (maybe for the 828 clone). Flowers style rather than the Failla/ Gary Farrell /Colene Clemens, etc. In the end, it may just be generalizations since there is so much variability within the region - given the different clones, vinification methods (barrels, yeasts, time in bottle, etc.), and sheer number of producers /vineyards, etc. and possibly bottle variability as well. but i’m a newbie. It helps to have these recommendations and tips since there is only so much time and resources to drink these different offerings. Can’t wait till I just know which are my favs.

If you ever visit the area, Sea Ranch is a beautiful place to stay. It’s remarkably desolate for a place that’s close to the Bay Area by driving. It’s a hard, scary drive though.

I buy Fort Ross from that area sometimes.

Love Sea Ranch. Client/friend of mine was looking to retire and always dreamed of living somewhere like Big Sur. He was gonna go to Bend OR. I told him to check out the Sea Ranch. Next day he hopped on plane to Santa Rosa, rented a car and drove there. Put an offer on a house immediately and has been there since.

If you’ve never seen it


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