Garagiste Northern Exposure in Sonoma Preview Part 2
As an overview note, many wineries were pouring 2013 and/or 2014 vintages. We preferred the 2013’s by and large.
Gregory James Wines is, like several others, named after owner Jim Demuth and winemaker Greg Adams. Their pal Jenny greeted us and gave us the rundown on the wines and the winery. She was pouring two 2014 pinots. The Hawk Hill Vineyard ($48) and the Patchy Fog Vineyard ($31) are both on the western edge of the Sonoma Coast AVA just outside Freestone, a town south of Occidental and west of Sebastopol. In other words, terrific terroir. And the wines are excellent.
Fallon Place Wines was represented by winemaker Cory Michal. The winery is named after Fallon Place on Russian Hill in San Francisco, one of the famous staircase walkways in the city. Cory used to make a barrel of wine on the landing outside his apartment when he lived there. Luckily for us, he turned professional. His 2016 Herbitage Vineyard ($38) is an excellent representative of the Carneros AVA. It will improve over the next few years, so be patient.
Betwixt Wines featured owner-winemaker Tim Tello. They, too, are located in San Francisco. Their 2015 pinot noir ($40) is from Anderson Valley’s Helluva Vineyard (say it out loud). Tim makes about 450 cases per year including grenache, grenache rosé, and chardonnay. The pinot is all of 85 cases so get it while you can.
La Pitchoune Winery was our last stop of the day. Owner Tracy Nielsen greeted us with enough enthusiasm to bolster our flagging energy. They featured two pinots, both 2014. One is a Sonoma Coast blend ($48). The other is from the Holder Vineyard in the Russian River Valley ($68). Tracy offered us their 2017 Sonoma Coast vin gris of pinot noir ($28), a heavier style of rosé. That process preserves more of the pinot character while still retaining rosé quaffability. All three wines were as charming as Tracy herself. Incidentally, La Pitchoune is a Provençal expression for “the little one”, deriving from the Occitan word pichon. It’s also the name Julia and Paul Child gave to their cottage in Provence. Which, by the way, you can now rent on AirBnB. (For our regular readers, Tracy is quite familiar with Picayune Cellars. We’ve written about them several times.)