2014 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot Noir

Winery

One trend in California winemaking has been a push toward growing grapes on increasingly marginal lands ever closer to the Pacific Ocean. The reasoning is simple: cooler temperatures allow grapes to ripen slowly while retaining acidity, which is particularly desirable in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay if they are to achieve Burgundian levels of excellence. But when Walt and Joan Flowers purchased land on a remote ridge in northern Sonoma County just two miles from the Pacific Ocean, they may have pushed the envelope just a little too far. After all, cool temperatures are less than welcome if grapes can’t get ripe. (Just ask the folks in Chablis or Champagne how easy it is to make wine in their respective climates!) Fortunately, it soon became clear that their 350 - 550 meter ridge really was a “warm site in a cool climate” – well above the fog line but cooled by ocean breezes. Moreover, the volatile geology of the Pacific coast has blessed their land with shallow soils teeming with sandstone, schist, greywacke and greenstone. Hence, the long growing season from the maritime climate coupled with the rocky soils that stress the vines results in low yields of intensely flavored grapes that grow in tight bunches of small berries – just perfect for making the kind of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that encouraged Walt and Joan Flowers to leave their home in Ohio to pursue a dream of making wine.    Situated upon two ridges in the northern part of the Sonoma Coast AVA, Flowers Vineyard and Winery grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in one of the highest vineyards on the United States. Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard (so named because the Native Americans used to gather there for the summer months) consists of 21 acres of Chardonnay and 8 acres of Pinot Noir that were planted in 1991. The Sea View Ridge Vineyard is somewhat higher in elevation and even closer to the ocean (though still “a warm spot in a cool climate); it was planted to 41 acres of Pinot Noir and a smidgen of Pinot Meunier in 1998.   In the vineyards and winery, Flowers employs a range of cutting edge methods. The vineyards are planted with 4 clones of Chardonnay and 11 clones of Pinot Noir and are farmed sustainably and organically without irrigation. The winery utilizes gravity instead of pumps to move wines from tank to barrel. Winemaking employs hand sorting, cold soaking, extended maceration, fermenting with native yeasts, aging in new French oak, lees aging and lees stirring (in the case of Chardonnay) and whole-cluster fermentation (for some Pinot Noirs). The results of such painstaking attention to detail are critically acclaimed wines that are aromatic and flavorful, complex and provocative and that have enough structure, acid and minerality to capture the essence of the extreme coastal terroir. 

Wine

Although the Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard is primarily planted to Chardonnay, it includes 8.8 acres of Pinot Noir. While that may sound like a small vineyard, it was planted according to Burgundian practice – with vines packed together in closely spaced rows. This increases the overall yield of the vineyard while reducing the number of grape clusters per vine. Because of nature (the steep slopes, shallow, rocky soils, and cool maritime climate) and nurture (biodynamic farming) this vineyard consistently produces Pinot Noir with great complexity, depth, minerality, and natural acidity. Though winter rains were scant in most of California in 2014, they fell heavily enough on the extreme coast to mitigate any need for irrigation in the Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard. Summer temperatures were generally mild and grapes were uniformly ripe and flavorful at harvest. The extreme coastal terroir has produced a Pinot Noir of exceptional depth and finesse.

Winemaking

After hand harvesting, the grapes were processed as 80% destemmed and 20% whole clusters. The must was first “cold soaked” for 8 days; fermentation on native yeasts involved an extended maceration of 25 days. The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and was bottled without fining or filtration.

Tasting notes

90 points – Wine Enthusiast. Notes of rose, lavender, tea leaf and forest floor complement red raspberry and cranberry aromas. On the palalate, layers of pomegranate, cranberry and orange zest are woven up in fine tannins and structured with fresh acidity and slaty minerality

Appellation

Sonoma Coast

Varietal

Pinot Noir

Size

750ml

Closure

Cork

Alcohol

13.0%

UPC

859369001711