Pinotfest 2014 Two to Watch

Ernest Vineayrds' Todd Gottula and Erin Brooks Pinotfest 2014 two to watch

We were fortunate to be invited to the Pinotfest trade tasting November 21. We visited quite a few newcomers, some old favorites, and a few that we’d tried before but wanted to revisit. This is our Pinotfest 2014 two to watch — the best two that were new to us.

Pinotfest Crowd Pinotfest 2014 Two to Watch

Pinotfest Crowd

Ernest Vineyards

Ernest The Engineer Pinotfest 2014 Two to Watch

Ernest The Engineer

The biggest surprise was Ernest Vineyards. And they are true newcomers, producing their first vintage in 2012. Their wines are named whimsically but with a logic that is inescapable. We especially liked The Engineer and picked it for our best in show (but by a very narrow margin). Aromas of raspberries and cherries, flavors of maraschino cherries (without the sugar) explode on palate, dark fruit, tannins and spice on the finish. This wine is made from the Romanini vineyard grapes.

We were not as fond of Ernest’s The Wrangler. However, it lives up to its name, less refined and more rustic than The Engineer. Lots of mushroom and forest floor. The winery website says it will improve with age. We, of course, are not that patient.

Ernest Vineyards owners Todd Gottula and Erin Brooks have made their winery and wines an homage to their parentage. Ernest Gottula was Todd’s paternal grandfather and donated his first name to the winery. He was also a NASA     engineer. The Engineer is named in honor of his profession. Similarly, Erin’s grandfather owned a ranch in Texas. The Wrangler is his contribution. There are three other wines that are chardonnays: The Bombardier, The Farmer, and The Jester. The last name is taken from Erin’s father who had a Tom Jones cover band.

Ernest Vineayrds' Todd Gottula and Erin Brooks Pinotfest 2014 Two to Watch

Ernest Vineayrds’ Todd Gottula and Erin Brooks

Reuling Vineyards

Reuling Bottle Pinotfest 2014 Two to Watch

Reuling Bottle

Reuling’s first vintage was 2011. Their 2012 Sonoma Coast opens with brambleberry and lavender aromas followed by earth, tobacco, and spice. The finish is a lovely balance of acid and tannins.

Tim and Jackie Reuling met in pre-school in Morton, Illinois. They dated in junior high school, but went to universities about 2,000 miles apart. In 1978 they met by accident when they were in Illinois visiting their families. There is considerably more to the story, but we’ll save that for a longer piece in the future. We’re just very happy they decided to make pinot noir!

Tim Reuling Pinotfest 2014 Two to Watch

Tim Reuling


About the author

Tony Lima has been a California wine fan since arriving in California from the east coast in 1974. He's lived the growth and expansion of the West Coast industry first hand. He's seen the fickle California Wine consumer fads pop up and burst... the craze for Zinfandel, then oaky Chardonnay, then Merlot, now Pinot Noir. On behalf of fellow Californian oenophiles, he hunts for great pinot noir and great values in pinot noir all along the West Coast. His day job is Professor of Economics at California State University located in Hayward. His undergrad degree in chemical engineering (MIT) and his MBA (Harvard) and Ph.D. Economics (Stanford) are the root of his interest in the Business of Wine. He is a card-carrying member of the AAWE - American Association of Wine Economists.

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