2012 Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir


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. 


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.


The fruit was crushed by foot and fermented with 80% whole clusters on native yeasts. The wine was never racked and bottled without clarification.

Tasting notes

Aromas of red plums with notes of orange peel and crushed flowers precede a medium-bodied palate of dark berries, plums and cinnamon. The impression is one of lift, freshness and vibrancy.


Sonoma Coast


Pinot Noir