2013 Wind Gap Woodruff 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. 


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.


The fruit was fermented with 100% whole clusters on native yeasts. Aging utilized no new French oak.  

Tasting notes

Red and black berry fruit scents seem infused with pine and notes of wild thyme. The palate is rich and full-flavored but balanced with natural acidity, structure and great length.


Santa Cruz Mountains


Pinot Noir