Gary Farrell

Signature wines from the Russian River’s “Grand Cru” vineyards

On trying the first wine Gary Farrell made (a 1978 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir) in a wine competition, the renowned Russian-born enologist, André Tchelistcheff was said to remarked, “whoever made it, he knows Pinot Noir.” Since that time Farrell went on not only to make excellent Pinot Noir, but to play a key role in the transformation of rural Russian River Valley into a world class producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Young and self-taught, Farrell served as winemaker for Bynum as well as Joe Rochioli and continued to receive Rochioli fruit on a handshake basis long after founding his own winery in 1982. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Farrell set a high bar for small-lot, Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Though he sold the winery in 2004 (and retired from the wine business in 2013), his legacy is alive and well at the Gary Farrell Winery. Owned by the Vincraft Group since 2012, the winery remains true to Gary’s belief in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from such “Grand Cru” properties as Rochioli, Allen, Westside Farms, and Hallberg. In recent years, the winery has added more storied, heritage vineyards to its portfolio, such as Ritchie, Bacigalupi and Martinelli in RRV, as well as the Durrell Vineyard in Sonoma Valley and the Bien Nacido Vineyard, in the Santa Maria Valley. Because of variations in soils, micro-climate, orientation, clones, and age, these vineyards offer the winery the opportunity to produce wines of place and unique character. Since 2012, the winemaker has been Theresa Heredia, a chemistry researcher-turned-winemaker who arrived with several years’ of experience in cool-climate winemaking at Freestone Winery, the Sonoma Coast operation owned by Joseph Phelps. She has evolved the Gary Farrell house style toward even greater elegance and balance with such “innovative” (actually old!) techniques as early picking, extended maceration, fermentation with whole clusters and native yeasts, aging in large-sized (500 L) puncheons and even some old-fashioned foot treading. Improvements at Gary Farrell have not gone unnoticed by the press. Food and Wine Magazine chose the 2015 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir as one of the PNs “to drink if you want to be an expert,” while Wine Enthusiast selected the 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay as its No. 1 of the Enthusiast Top 100 in 2017. 

Wine Maker

Theresa Heredia





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Wines from this Winery

2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay

Intense aromas, lively citrus, a mineral-driven texture, persistence and loads of energy. That would seem to sum up Gary Farrel’s 2019 Russian River Chardonnay. But how to capture the way the wine evolves over time in the glass or from the first through the last sip? The secret to this wine may be the many premier vineyards in the blend. Even though Westside Farms, Bacigalupi, Olivet Lane, Rochioli, Allen, and Olivet Lane vineyards are located within the same AVA, they exemplify what’s special about the Russian River Valley: incredible diversity within a small geographical area. Each vineyard adds a special nuance whether borne of its particular micro-climate, soil type, clone or vine age. That each one of these vineyards is great enough to be used in high-end single-vineyard bottlings is a testament to the deep relationships Gary Farrell has forged with local growers over the years. Brie cheese, lobster salad, lemony risotto, or baked chicken with taragon are among the many dishes that would pair well with this crisp, invigorating Chardonnay. 

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¥7,260 (incl. tax)
2015 Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay

Several kilometers west of bustling Santa Rosa, Olivet Lane looks untouched by the 21st century, a narrow road running between old vineyards planted on a gentle slope. Robert Pellegrini, whose family had long been involved in Sonoma County viticulture and winemaking, bought the property in 1973 and had the foresight to plant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - long before those varieties became the powerhouses they are today. Located in a sweet spot where summer days start out cool and foggy but end warm and sunny, the Olivet Lane vineyard has long been acknowledged as an excellent source of Chardonnay. Indeed, Gary Farrell has produced an Olivet Lane bottling since the 1990s. According to the winery, this Chardonnay “is a pure expression of penetrating acidity moderated by layers of rich, velvety baking spices with crisp apple and citrus notes throughout.” 

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¥8,580 (incl. tax)
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2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir

By sourcing Pinot Noir from seven vineyards around the Russian River AVA, winemaker Theresa Heredia can blend fruit that matures in microclimates that range from cool but sunny, to moderately foggy and cool to extremely foggy and chilly. And because Pinot Noir is so sensitive to terroir, each site adds an element to the blend, be it darker or redder fruit, acidity, tannin, texture, or acidity. The result is a seductive Pinot Noir that’s light on its feet yet generous, offering layers of bright cherry, cranberry, floral and spicy notes. A great wine to pair with grilled quail, seared salmon or tuna, or dishes that include cherries or figs.

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¥9,130 (incl. tax)
2017 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir

The unique qualities of the Hallberg vineyard make it an obvious choice for a vineyard-designate wine. The Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley sees little shift between daytime and nighttime temperatures, remaining so consistently cool that grapes can ripen slowly and steadily. Vine roots can extend so deep into the Goldridge Sandy Loam soil that the vineyard can be farmed without irrigation. These conditions produce fruit with deep, dark color, great structure, silky tannins, dark fruit flavors and earthy characteristics. A careful yet “hands-off” approach in the cellar turns great fruit into awesome wine. In 2017, a couple of heat waves and a later-than-usual harvest forced the vineyard and winery crews to pick and process the grapes fast. However, according to the winery, “the resulting fruit yielded copious quantities of bright red & blue fruit flavors and aromas. The wines are fresh, vibrant and concentrated, despite the challenges, with lifted aromas that could trick one into thinking this was a much cooler vintage.” This is a wine with lovely acidity, mineral freshness and tannins that suggest plenty of hedonistic pleasure for years to come!

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¥10,230 (incl. tax)