This 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris is pale yellow in color and has delicate floral, stone fruit, pear, and peppermint aromas. It also has fleshy yet bright acidity and fresh fruit flavors of peach, apricot, and Asian pear. The finish has hints of minerality.
Already an established, award winning dairy farmer, in 1996 Domenico Carinalli, along with his wife Lynda, planted the first winegrape vines on their property east of Sebastopol. Long before that, however, wine was deeply ingrained in their lives. A son of Italian immigrants, life revolved around homemade cheese, butter, and wine. The grapes planted during the early years of the vineyard included Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 2007, a family favorite, Pinot Grigio (also known as Pinot Gris) was finally planted to reflect Domenico’s Italian heritage.
Located in an extremely cool pocket of southern Russian River Valley, near the Petaluma wind gap, these grapes are bathed in extreme fog during the summer months. This gives the grapes an extremely long and slow maturation period, preventing high sugar concentration or development of strong color in the skins. The extremely cool conditions mean that the grapes ripen well into the end of September, and when picked in the early morning hours just before sunrise, they arrive at the winery cold and ready for gentle pressing.
Pinot Gris is very difficult to find in the Russian River Valley, with only 180 acres planted in the entire appellation. Low yielding and challenging to grow (like its cousin Pinot Noir), Pinot Gris requires a very attentive grower. These vines were hand tended to maximize their potential.
Signaling an end to the multiyear drought, 2016 began with a very mild winter. We saw ample rainfall which charged up the soil with good moisture reserves. Temperatures were moderate, with only a few nights in early spring which required vigilance against the threat of frost. The gentle conditions continued through bloom, and resulted in good fruit set and balanced crop levels – a welcome return to normal after the tiny harvest in 2015! The grapes were treated to perfect growing and ripening conditions throughout the season. With only a few modest heat spikes in June and July that topped out in the mid90s and a relatively cool August, our grapes were able to hang for an extended period to develop concentrated flavors.