• The Sonoma Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area) is just North of San Francisco and has about 2000 acres of vineyard land. Aside from being  beautiful and home to Tomales Bay Oyster Company, the wine from here can be breathtaking.

    *side note: Tomales Bay Oyster Company = awesome. Sit on the bay and eat  seconds fresh oysters and drink beer while sitting by the ocean.

    Although there are numerous micro climates throughout this AVA, they all have one thing in common. They all get cool ocean air. It’s this air that adds complexity by lengthening the growing season and keeping the temperature spikes to a minimum. The cool air gives a better fruit/acid balance and more delicate aromatics.

    The climate is perfect for Pinot Noir, which is why some of the best Pinots the states have to offer come from here.

    Hirsch Vineyards ‘The Bohan-Dillon‘ Pinot Noir 2011

    At $37.99 this Pinot is an exemplary execution.

    Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it 92 points

    “Layers of bright, beautifully articulated fruit burst from the 2011 Pinot Noir Bohan Dillon. Nuanced, chiseled and wonderfully alive in the glass, the 2011 is energetic and vibrant throughout. Violets, pine and mint add attractive high toned notes on the finish. I imagine the 2011 will be even better with another year in bottle. The Bohan Dillon is one of my favorite mid-tier California Pinots.”

    The 2010 had a watercolor homage to their cat.



    I don’t usually talk about really pricey wines, but if you have the means I highly recommend you pick up a Pahlmeyer.

    2010 Pahlmeyer Pinot Noir

    This wine also received 92 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, but if you like a bold Pinot this one will knock the socks off the Hirsch.

    “The 2010 Pinot Noir is surprisingly juicy for the vintage. Black cherries, spices and flowers burst from the glass in this deep, expressive Pinot. The wine reveals gorgeous depth and purity all the way through to the resonant finish. Winemaker Erin Green gave the Pinot 15 months in French oak barrels (67% new). The Pinot was neither fined nor filtered. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2016.”


    One of my favorite all around producers would have to be Peay. They consistently produce a complex product regardless of what varietal or year. I talked about what makes Sonoma Coast great, and they put it beautifully…

    The pursuit of aromatic, elegant, red-fruited Pinot noir led us to the chilly edge of the West Sonoma Coast just 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Due to our cool, moderate weather we experience quite a long growing season that allows us to pick fruit that is ripe without the encumbrance of too much sugar (and resulting alcohol), yet retains the refreshing acidity and top noted aromatics that make Pinot noir so engaging.



    2011 Peay Pinot Noir

    At $42 on their website I still find it to be a worthwhile purchase. You may have to wait and have it for a special event, but people will be thrilled.

    Wine makers notes:

    The nose features dark cherry, sandalwood, star anise and orange liqueur ballasted by the pine needle/forest floor aroma you find in all of our Pinots. On the palate, the broad, earthy, and iron qualities support aromas of sweet and sour cherries and orange rind creating roundness and lift. Though it has only 13.2% alcohol it is not a delicate or insubstantial wine; it has power without heaviness. Drink now to 2018.


    Lastly I’ll tell you about Patz & Hall. They make a dynamite Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


    2011 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir


    Wine makers notes:

    “The cool 2011 vintage has yielded a lovely, aromatically driven expression of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir marked by layered floral notes of rose, carnation and violet, as well as delicate hints of red fruit and spice. On the palate, the flavors are vivid and pure, with red cherry and raspberry fruit supported by soft, yet enlivening acidity. The tannins are supple and subtle, adding to this wine’s weight and velvety texture, with oak-inspired notes of cinnamon, clove and maple syrup contributing nuance and complexity. All of these elements lead to a long creamy finish, with melt-in-your mouth tannins. This is an exceptional food wine that will provide lots of pleasure in its youth.”


    If Sonoma Coast is on the label you can be assured that it won’t suck, and most likely will be awesome.