The "soup" of the Whetstone story starts with these two wines for this release: Catie’s Corner Viognier and Pleasant Hill Pinot Noir. I have been working with these vineyards since 2002 when I was still under the Turley roof and first launching Whetstone Wine Cellars.
In our case, the "nuts" of the Whetstone story may be when Michelle and I decided to jump all in and grow Whetstone together, build a life and dailiness around this business while raising four children…. But I digress.
What happens next could not be possible without the care and thoughtfulness that goes into the collaborative preparation: attention to detail in the vineyard, great fruit, all eyes on the cellar, the gracious hospitality with our dream team at Whetstone, and the experience around your own table sharing Whetstone wines with friends and family.
In the beginning, I had to go with my gut and cautiously choose vineyards and farmers that I knew would be worth a lifetime of relationships. When I look back on foundations of our success it starts here:
Charlie Chenowith planted and farms Pleasant Hill Vineyard. He has taught me a lot over the years about the subtleties of growing world-class, California Pinot Noir. Born and raised in Sebastopol, Charlie manages and owns hundreds of acres of storied vineyards throughout the Russian River and Sonoma Coast appellations. Pleasant Hill is planted in Goldridge loam soil, which from my perspective reads a bit like pound cake; well-drained soils tempered by foggy mornings, warm days and cool nights.
Christine Magretts oversees all farming/business ops at Catie’s Corner Vineyard, where we get our Viognier. She and I have been working together since I founded Whetstone in 2002. The vineyard is planted in Goldridge loam soils riddled with river cobbles. Bi-lateral cordon pruning was established here to open up the canopy, expose it to more sunlight, and give the vines more stoke with less competition underground due to a less vigorous soil. I like to set a really big crop (think 7-8 tons to the acre) then throttle it back to 3-4 tons per acre with a rigorous fruit drop at Veraison. The Dutton family farms this place and is shepherding it into the barn with a level of quality our customers have come to expect.
And speaking of the barn, Rebecca Laird owns and runs Laird Family Estate where I have been making Whetstone since 2005. With 50 years in the wine business, her family’s history and expertise, state of the art custom crush facilities and shared goals to produce great wines gives me a great home to make our wines.
I take so much pride in watching these wines continue to shine and make their way into homes across the country. A big shout out to those that have been enjoying these wines for years and for first timers…….these wines are the foundation of Whetstone so we look forward to sharing them with you!
Vineyard Notes: Sustainably farmed, cool climate vineyard site, Goldridge loam soils. Normal spring budbreak, fairly hot summer with record heat first week of September. Yield of 2.8 tons per acre; 2/3 clone 115 and 1/3 clone 667. Havested on September 8th.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: Stainless steel fermented, aged for 16 months sur lees in 100% French oak; 35% new oak. Deep ruby in color. Bright, expressive nose of dusty raspberry, ripe Bing cherry, violets, and clove. Secondary notes of saddle leather and mint. Medium-bodied flavors of Bing cherry, ripe raspberry, orange pekoe tea and tobacco. Finishes long with bright notes of alpine strawberry and baker’s chocolate.
Vineyard Notes: Sustainably farmed, cool climate site, river cobbles and Goldridge loam soils. Very rainy winter ending a string of drought years. September. Yield of 3.9 tons per acre. Harvested the grapes September 11th.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: Barrel fermented in neutral French oak and aged for 16 months sur lees. Golden honey in color. Rich nose full of banana runts, guava, licorice, pineapple and orange rind. Background notes of jasmine and paper whites. Mouthful of ripe pear, orange cream-sicle, lime, liquid minerals, and peach liquor. Finishes long and bright with hints of lemon meringue, citrus and subtle tarragon.
As for this harvest, 2018 will go down as the largest crop in the history of California grape growing. Despite the yields, the concentration and natural acidity of the wines in barrel run counter to what I figured might be the end result. Tickled on all fronts is what I feel as I put these wines to bed for the next 12 months.
Many thanks for your continued support and friendship,