Castle Rock

Appellation Wines at Affordable Prices

Producing low-priced wine is not difficult in California – as long as one uses undistinguished central valley grapes. Yet Castle Rock Winery sells premium, handcrafted wines from the best appellations in California, Oregon and Washington at prices that match those wines labeled “California.” Castle Rock Winery’s secret to providing “appellation wines at affordable prices” is to operate as a kind of “virtual winery,” owning neither its own vineyards nor a winery. Instead it maintains close, long-term relationships with around forty growers in such areas as Monterey County, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Willamette Valley and Colombia Valley and leases state-of-the-art winemaking facilities in all three states. Winemaker August "Joe" Briggs works closely with the growers to ensure they produce the best quality fruit while overseeing the winemaking at the same time. This unique method of operating allows Castle Rock to avoid the “money pits” of land and fancy buildings that sink many wineries and focus everything on securing the best grapes and crafting delicious wines. Since the beginning in 1994, Castle Rock has focused particularly on Pinot Noir, making distinct bottlings from such key Pinot districts as Carneros, Russian River Valley and Willamette Valley. However, over the years the winery has also branched out into other popular varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Riesling. Though an oft-repeated wine country adage goes, “it takes a fortune to make a small fortune in the wine business,” Castle Rock Winery has shown there is a way to make captivating wines for the discerning drinker without deep pockets. 

Wine Maker

Meghan Rech





Photo Gallery

Wines from this Winery

2019 Castle Rock Central Coast Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is an expression of prime vineyards along the Central Coast, where a favorable maritime climate of sunshine, fog and ocean breezes leads to wines that balance intense flavors with bright acidity. In 2019, Central Coast winemakers hailed a return to the “old normal,” in which a cold winter, followed by a mild spring and summer, led to a harvest that started and ended much later than had recently been the case. Longer “hangtime” enhanced the acidity in the fruit, producing an elegant Chardonnay with a rich, ripe and fruity character. Try it with fish, poultry and lightly sauced entrees.

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¥2,200 (incl. tax)
2020 Castle Rock California Sauvignon Blanc
2018 Castle Rock Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

From Washington State’s Columbia Valley, here’s a delicious Cabernet at a great price! An arid plateau east of the Cascade Range, the Columbia Valley does not feature a maritime climate like most appellations along the West Coast. On the other hand, at 46° N, it shares the same latitude as the great French wine growing regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, allowing for much longer summer days than in points south. The Columbia Valley’s combination of a long growing season, rich volcanic soils and plenty of mountain run-off for nurturing vines in the dry climate produces bold and nuanced wines, full of structure and balanced acidity. Castle Rock’s south-facing hillside vineyards produce a Cabernet Sauvignon that is rich, structured and supple. 

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¥2,530 (incl. tax)
2019 Castle Rock California Petite Sirah
2017 Castle Rock Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Located between Monterrey and Santa Barbara, the Paso Robles AVA is not among the Central Coast’s cooler climates. Indeed, the Santa Lucia Mountain Range that forms the AVA’s western border, shields most of Paso Robles AVA from coastal fog and winds, which is why Zinfandel, Syrah, and the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon feature prominently among Paso Robles wineries. On the other hand, because Paso Robles features the widest day-to-night temperature swing in California, red wines develop complex flavors over a long growing season. Diverse soils are another key feature of Paso Robles: granite, marine, and volcanic rocks, calcareous shales and sandstone can often be found within the same vineyard block! With Castle Rock’s Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, you get a classic, dark, rich Cab at a price that merits midweek drinking. Pair it with beef, lamb, or even spaghetti Bolognese.

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¥2,640 (incl. tax)
2019 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir

The wine-growing regions of Mendocino remain rural, rugged and almost out of reach by Bay Area day-trippers. Hence, the region is one of dense forests, ranches, farms, and vineyards without a lot of tourist facilities. Winegrowing in the Anderson Valley is blessed by a cool climate that allows Pinot Noir to develop wonderful aromatics and bright fruit flavors. Castle Rock’s Mendocino Pinot is a great value, a medium-bodied wine that pleases with attractive cherry and wild berry fruit as well as notes of earth, cedar and savory herbs. Lamb, chicken, salmon and light pasta dishes will all pair well with this wine.

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¥2,640 (incl. tax)
2019 Dressage Central Coast Chardonnay

Dressage is a new label produced by Castle Rock in celebration of 25 years in the business. According to the winery, “the art of Dressage is about the harmony, elegance and balance between horse and rider.” As Castle Rock sees it, the same holds true for winemaking, with the winemaker working to harmonize the grapes, soils and climate into perfect balance. These elements come into sharp focus in this wine, a Chardonnay from select vineyards along the cool Central Coast. Awarded 86 points by the Wine Enthusiast, Dressage Chardonnay pleases with aromas and flavors of apple and citrus with tropical fruit, subtle oak, and vanilla notes. 

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¥2,860 (incl. tax)
2014 Castle Rock Los Carneros Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is well-known as a finicky grape that, if planted in the right spot, can express the terroir like no other. Carneros was among the first of California’s cool-climate AVAs to prove that the “right spot” need not be in Burgundy to make a wine that is subtle, elegant, complex and sublime. Castle Rock’s Los Carneros is a fabulous value, delivering a smooth and heady mix of fruit and spice. Lamb, chicken, salmon or light pasta dishes would pair well with this versatile wine. 

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¥2,970 (incl. tax)
2018 Castle Rock Monterey County Pinot Noir

Whereas southern Monterey County is warm, dry and well-suited to Bordeaux varietals, the northern half, with sandy soils and a moist, cool maritime climate, is perfect for such Burgundian varietals as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cooler summer temperatures allow for a longer growing season for Pinot Noir, while also allowing extra “hang-time” on the vines, giving way to a characteristic depth and concentration of flavor. Castle Rock’s Monterey County Pinot Noir offers a complex palate of cherry, dark cranberry, earth and smoked meat. Its elegance, medium body, silky texture and mild tannins make it an excellent match for lamb and chicken as well as salmon or pan-seared tuna steaks.  

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¥2,970 (incl. tax)
2020 Castle Rock Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Willamette Pinot Noir is a great new addition to Hotei’s selection of affordable appellation Pinot Noirs produced by the Castle Rock Winery. The cool climate, lengthy growing season, and diverse soils are just part of what makes the Willamette Valley a great region for this varietal. As important is the devotion to a handcrafted approach, organic viticulture and sustainability practiced by so many of the producers there. The Willamette Valley is now recognized for a style of Pinot Noir that’s well-balanced, supple and crisp, lighter in body but as deliciously fruit-forward as its counterparts in California. The winery describes this wine as offering “aromas of cherry and spice. On the palate, it gives flavors of berries, cinnamon, black cherry, sweet vanilla oak, and floral notes with a long velvety finish.” It should pair well with lamb, chicken, pork, salmon, and light pasta dishes.

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¥3,300 (incl. tax)
2017 Castle Rock Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

After a six-year hiatus, Castle Rock has again produced a Napa Valley Cabernet. While almost three dozen grape varieties grow in the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon is clearly king, accounting for 40% of Napa’s grape production. Today, “Napa Cab” suggests a style of wine that is deep, rich, luxurious, hedonistic…. and pricey. However, Castle Rock avoids the pricey part by focusing exclusively on sourcing excellent fruit and making fine wine and avoiding such costly ancillaries as a fancy winery, visitor’s center, or art collection. Sourced from three vineyards, the wine impresses with its dark black purple color, aromas of black cherry, spice and chocolate, and a palate that’s rich and mouthwatering. A Napa Cab that doesn’t require a special occasion to enjoy it. 

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¥5,170 (incl. tax)