Six Cloves

Elegant Sonoma wine made with a delicate Japanese touch

Sonoe Hirabayashi grew up on an apple farm in the foothills of the Northern Alps of Japan, yet she pursued a very American dream in working her way toward founding Six Cloves, her own California wine making and consulting business. After starting out working in New York in international trade and finance, Hirabayashi got bitten by the wine bug and left the east coast to study viticulture and enology at UC Davis. As her studies wound up, she began several years of internships, seasonal and full-time positions that included stints at Kusuda in New Zealand; Montsecano in Chile; and Gary Farrell, Littorai, Dehlinger, DRNK, and Sebastiani in Sonoma County. These experiences gave her the expertise as well as the confidence to conceive of a wine business with a Japan focus. Six Cloves provides consulting on exporting California wine to the Japanese market. Hirabayashi-san is also making wine she believes will appeal to Japanese consumers and match the delicacy of Japanese cuisine. 

Wine Maker

Sonoe Hirabayashi





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Wines from this Winery

2019 Six Cloves Benguerel Family Vineyard Primitivo

While Primitivo can be used as another name for Zinfandel because they are so close genetically, the two clones produce such different grape clusters and berries that their respective wines are quite distinct. Located near Kenwood in the Sonoma Valley, the vines in the Benguerel Family Vineyard are planted on their own roots and dry-farmed organically without tillage or application of sulphur. This means the owners have decided that phylloxera, powdery mildew, and a weedy vineyard are worth the risk for a sustainable environment, healthier vines, and more organic fruit. As for winemaking, Sonoe Hirabayashi took inspiration from Beaujolais, blanketing the freshly-picked grapes with CO2 in order start a semi-carbonic maceration, which preserves the fresh fruit aromas of the grapes. Maceration involved old-fashioned foot stomping and pitchforking and the wine went through only partial malolactic fermentation in order to preserve acidity. The bright, translucent purple and medium-bodied structure are more evocative of Pinot Noir than Zin at first; but from the entry to the finish, the wine bursts with refreshing red fruit and sweet spice, leading to grippy tannins on the finish. 

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¥6,380 (incl. tax)
2018 Six Cloves Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Sonoe Hirabayashi fell in love with Pinot Noir not in Burgundy, but in Martinborough, New Zealand, where the windy, maritime climate produces Pinot Noir with vibrant flavors and acidity. In California, Hirabayashi sources Pinot Noir fruit from the newly-established Petaluma Gap AVA, where summer afternoons and evenings are cooled by ocean winds and fogs, providing the conditions for Pinot Noir fruit to develop acids and flavors that are similarly vibrant and intense. Fermenting the fruit on 25% whole clusters, Hirabayashi has produced a well-balanced and delicious wine with nuances of bright red and black fruit flavors and savory and earthy notes. 

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¥7,150 (incl. tax)
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2019 Six Cloves Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay

In the northwestern part of the City of Napa, where track homes begin to modulate into small farms and orchards, you’ll find the Linda Vista Vineyard. This is Oak Knoll, a cool sub AVA of the Napa Valley where Chardonnay vines thrive. Indeed, even the Chardonnay that won the infamous Paris Tasting for Chateau Montelena came from another vineyard nearby. Linda Vista is farmed by Steve Matthiasson, a grape grower and winemaker and well-known proponent of viticultural methods that produce fruit with higher levels of acidity for making wines with less alcohol and greater balance. Sonoe Hirabayashi has made a delightful Chardonnay with the Linda Vista fruit. Brisk and refreshing, it bursts with citrus, apple and lemon curd; the pure, varietal character is further emphasized through judicious use of oak that softened the wine without masking the flavors. 

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¥7,150 (incl. tax)
2019 Six Cloves

Magnolia is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from the Millen Vineyard and Pyaleh Vineyard on the cool, Sonoma side of the Los Carneros AVA. These vineyards are farmed by Sonoe’s former Davis classmates, who practice a sustainable form of viticulture. They don’t till the land – in order to prevent run-off into streams– use pesticides or spray sulphur on the fruit. According to Sonoe, the blend “shows the potential of these Bordeaux varieties grown in a cool climate in California. The wine exhibits pure aroma and flavor of the varieties with refined acid and low alcohol unlike counterparts of Bordeaux varieties grown in hot climates.” Red fruit flavors, a hint of bell pepper and fine tannins recall high-toned Cabernet Franc from a cool climate such as Chinon in the Loire Valley.

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¥7,700 (incl. tax)