2012 Wind Gap Sun Chase 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. 


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.


The fruit was destemmed (0% whole cluster), crushed by foot and fermented on native yeasts. The wine aged 18 months in neutral French oak, where it was never racked and bottled without clarification.  

Tasting notes

The nose explodes with ripe raspberry, a hint of orange zest and gorgeous cinnamon spice. The mid palate expresses a wide spectrum of flavor, balancing natural acidity with lush concentration, and remaining vibrant and expressive throughout


Sonoma Coast


Pinot Noir