2013 Wind Gap Sonoma Coast 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. 


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. 


80% whole grape clusters were fermented (on native yeasts) and subsequently aged 12 months in neutral French oak. The wine was transferred to concrete eggs for four weeks prior to bottling.

Tasting notes

The wine offers aromas of red-cherries with accents of orange rind, cloves, blackberries, and roses and a palate of concentrated fruit and spice flavors that linger long. 


Santa Cruz Mountains


Pinot Noir