Wind Gap Wines

Honest, authentic and compelling wines from special places

Taking its name from those gaps in the coastal mountains through which fogs billow and bring a chill to the California sun, Wind Gap produces Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, exclusively from cool sites. Pax Mahle, the sommelier-turned-winemaker in charge of Wind Gap Winery, underwent a conversion of sorts when some barrels of Syrah from a particular vineyard site in a cooler vintage produced wine far more  alluring, fresh and energetic than the other wines he was making at the time. Although the wines from his Pax Winery sold out to critical acclaim, they could be overwhelming, with alcohol levels as high as 16%. Making up his mind to focus on making wines from cooler sites, he started Wind Gap, thereby staking a claim as a producer of “new California” wine in the process. New California refers to a style of wine growing that emphasizes food-friendly balance, elegance and subtlety as opposed to the overripe, highly extracted and oaked style common among many high-end California wines. Sourcing grapes from vineyards in the Petaluma Gap as well as other cool sites along the California coast, Wind Gap works closely with growers, farming carefully to keep yields so low that enzymes, chemical or water additions and even the sorting table are unnecessary. In the winery, the approach is equally measured and hands off. The fruit is handled gently, often crushing by foot and punching down or pumping over as little as possible. The wines are fermented in stainless steel or cement tanks on native yeasts and then aged in neutral oak. The reds tend to be fermented with a high inclusion of whole clusters, which makes for more authentic, elegant wine, by moderating the intensity of the fruit and adding more alluring aromas. Don’t look for power, concentration and richness in Wind Gap wines; instead, appreciate the subtle flavors and vibrant aromas of earth and fruit, and the backbone and structure that will keep these wines evolving for years. 

Wines from this Winery

2014 Wind Gap Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Trousseau Gris

2014 Wind Gap Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Trousseau Gris

In the decades before Chardonnay became ubiquitous, Trousseau Gris had been planted rather widely in California, even though it had all but disappeared in France. Sometimes bottled as a varietal but more often used to spice up white blends, it was typically called Gray Riesling – even though it has no relation to the noble German variety. Trousseau Gris does best in cool climate vineyards - such as the Fannuchi-Wood Road vineyard, located near Sonoma’s Russian River. This is a gorgeous wine that’s effusively flavorful and aromatic. The low alcohol, freshness and balance make it an excellent choice for a lunchtime aperitif that will pair well with salads or hearty seafood dishes such as paella.  

Details
¥ 4,400
2013 Wind Gap James Berry Vineyard Chardonnay

2013 Wind Gap James Berry Vineyard Chardonnay

Wind Gap’s James Berry Chardonnay was sourced from a high elevation vineyard a few miles from the ocean in the Paso Robles AVA. The tiny plot of Chardonnay in a vineyard of mostly red Rhone varieties was planted in the early 1970s. An expression of the limestone soils and the moderate temperatures of the 2013 growing season, the wine is zesty and fresh – precise and focused on entry but broader and richer on the mid-palate. Sadly, 2013 is the last vintage for Chardonnay from this vineyard, the vines having been ripped out in 2014. Get some before it's all gone! 

Details
¥ 5,200
2013 Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

2013 Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Perhaps you’ve been hearing about the  “New California” wine but weren’t sure exactly what that meant. In that case, give Wind Gap’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir a try. It should convince you that some California winemakers really are moving away from power toward finesse. Sourced from four great vineyards in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast AVA, this Pinot Noir is delicate and light and effusive with bright fruit and floral flavors, and the alcohol is less than 13%. These qualities can be traced to the rocky, volcanic soils as well as the cool climate, which moderates the ripening of the grapes and ensures fresh acids at harvest time. 

Details
¥ 6,500
2013 Wind Gap Nellessen Vineyard Syrah

2013 Wind Gap Nellessen Vineyard Syrah

Wind Gap’s Nellessen Syrah epitomizes the new direction this grape is taking in California. Whereas a typical California Syrah used to come from a warmer AVA and was made in big, syrupy, high-octane style (like Aussie Shiraz or Zinfandel), the action has now moved toward the coast and cooler sites. Wind Gap makes Syrah much like it does Pinot Noir: by sourcing grapes from a windy vineyard with poor soils, using whole bunch fermentation on native yeasts, and by aging in neutral oak. The results are stunning. The wine is only 11.9% in alcohol and pale in color but intensely aromatic, bright and lively; the effusive aromas of fruits, berries and black pepper bring many greats of the Northern Rhone to mind. 

Details
¥ 6,500
2012 Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir

2012 Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir

Featuring steep slopes, well-drained and rocky soils, and a range of clones and rootstocks, the Gap’s Crown Vineyard supplies fruit to several illustrious producers of Pinot Noir. The location is excellent; on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain, but still within the the Petaluma Gap, the vineyard is nurtured by both warm sun and cool fogs, and tends to produce ripe fruit and powerful, concentrated wines. In 2012, the fruit flavors were so intense that Wind Gap fermented the different vineyard blocks and clones separately using different proportions of whole clusters in order to create a more ethereal, structured wine. The result is a rich and robust Pinot Noir that looks opaque and dark in the glass but lifts with a seductive floral and red fruit perfume.

Details
¥ 9,700
2013 Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Pinot Noir

2013 Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Woodruff Vineyard is located near Corralitos, a cool area in the southern part of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Originally planted in the early 80s, the vineyard, which contains the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the locality, had long fallen into disrepair when bought and then painstakingly revived by new owners in 2008. Today the old gnarled vines planted in rocky and sandy soils are entirely dry-farmed. Yields can be miniscule, but the wines heavenly. 2013 being a warmer vintage, Wind Gap used 100% whole cluster fermentation as a way to add structure and balance to the naturally ripe fruit. The wine exudes dark, exotic nuances of forest floor but has length, texture and a firm classic structure.

Details
¥ 10,000
2013 Wind Gap Amaya Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

2013 Wind Gap Amaya Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Amaya Ridge Vineyard lies to the east of Santa Cruz, up in the mountains along the border of the Soquel Demonstration State Forest. Well off the beaten path and surrounded by redwoods, the estate comprises just three acres of Pinot Noir. Rocky soils and steep slopes produce wines that are dark, dense and concentrated. In 2013, Wind Gap used 100% whole cluster fermentation to give the ripe fruit more structure and lift. Even so, compared with the Woodruff Pinot, the Amaya Ridge is a dense and hedonistic wine with a creamy mouthfeel that’s 100% delicious.

Details
¥ 10,000
2012 Wind Gap Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir

2012 Wind Gap Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir

Like the Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Sun Chase is located at the edge of the Petaluma Gap, on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain – but at a significantly higher elevation well above the fog line. The flavor profile of the fruit from the two vineyards could not be more different. While Gap’s Crown concentrates the dark fruit, Sun Chase exhilarates with red: cherries, cranberries and ripe raspberries. 2013 was Wind Gap’s first vintage with this promising vineyard. Given the bright character of the fruit, the grapes were 100% destemmed at harvest. The wine is a dense and concentrated mouthful, but zesty, vibrant and fresh.

Details
¥ 10,500