Week three of our West Coast Wednesday series takes us to a small producer in the Petaluma Gap of the Sonoma Coast, Pfendler Vineyards. We’re excited to share the family history and how they are creating delicious hand-crafted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir!
In 1992, Peter Pfendler planted the first vineyard on the family’s Sonoma Mountain ranch with the goal of creating beautiful, hand-crafted wines. While Peter is no longer with the family, his vision is the guiding star for the quality and beauty of the wines produced, and his memory is celebrated with each vintage. Peter’s wife Kimberly has been operating the vineyard since 2007, the year that their first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were bottled. Formerly a creative executive in the entertainment industry (prior to that role she once served as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ assistant!), Kimberly was inspired by Peter’s passion for wine. Her goals are to continue to grow the finest-quality grapes for their wines, further Peter’s legacy of wildlife and land conservation, and to foster in their son, Nicholas, a love of the vineyard, the ranch, and in his father’s words, “this big, green, beautiful Earth.”
The first vineyard was planted in 1992 and since that time Pfendler Vineyards has expanded to plant three additional vineyards (19 acres in total) that flow from the peak of Sonoma Mountain to its base (elevations range from 1,000-2,200 feet). In this region of the Petaluma Gap the maritime influence of the Sonoma Coast touches each of the vineyards differently, providing a broad palate of exceptional, cool-climate flavors. Sunny days and cool breezy afternoons and evenings allow the grapes to mature through the long growing season, producing full and flavorful fruit representative of the unique terroir.
Winemaker Greg Bjornstad has a degree in Viticulture from UC Davis. In 1991, Greg was selected for the coveted Château Lafite Rothschild internship, where he observed that great wine is inextricably linked to the vineyard– the process is one. Sharing Kimberly’s passion, Greg’s approach is hands-on during growing season and he employs gentle practices in the winery to allow an honest expression of the Pfendler grapes– making wines that serve as a true testament to the land. No stranger to the Sonoma Coast, Greg has consulted for many of the regions most prestigious vineyards. Prior to joining Pfendler, he held leadership roles in viticulture and winemaking for Newton Vineyards, Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Flowers Estate.
Pfendler Vineyards produces vintages of hand-crafted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with an emphasis on showcasing the terroir– the soil, the climate, the weather– of the vineyards within the Petaluma Gap. All wines are handmade using the best possible fruit. Tasting the 2014 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was an honor and a privilege for us. True to Peter’s vision, the quality and beauty of the fruit is honored in each vintage.
- 2014 Chardonnay
- Winos Notes: The 2014 vintage was a pale straw color, with slight aromas of citrus and green apple, but accompanied by the vanilla and spices of cinnamon and nutmeg consistent with oaky qualities. Silky and smooth, the wine has a buttery finish that dances on the tongue while the nutty flavor comes to the forefront. At long last a dart of lemon and citrus appears, engulfing the taste buds with the perfect summertime Chardonnay.
- Where would you want to drink it? This Chardonnay is perfect for a cool and breezy summertime evening on the front porch swing.
- Recommended food pairing? An easy pairing would be a medium or sharp cheese. We would not pair a creamy brie with this one, the wine has a creaminess that can stand alone!
- 2014 Pinot Noir
- Winos Notes: The 2014 Pinot Noir is a medium-bodied wine of cranberry-garnet color. Cherry, tobacco and cinnamon spice on the nose, this slightly tannic and acidic Pinot has a complex flavor profile, exemplifying the earthy influence on the grapes. The bright and somewhat tart cranberry flavors get better with each sip, engulfing you in the terroir of Sonoma Mountain.
- Where would you want to drink it? The 2014 Pinot Noir is an approachable wine that could be shared with friends (make sure they are your good friends– you don’t want to share these with just anyone!) over a meal and laughter.
- Recommended food pairing? Pair this with a good antipasto– think sharp Italian cheeses, salami, prosciutto, olives, pepperoncinis, etc.
In addition to these well-crafted single varietal wines, Pfendler also makes a Rosé of Pinot Noir. If you’re a fan of trying new wines, we definitely suggest getting your hands on some of the Pfendler Vineyard vintages. Cheers!