Why is Sonoma Coast thought to be home to some of the greatest Pinot Noir in California? The region offers views as breathtaking as Big Sur to the south, with vineyards sitting above crashing waves and rocky cliffs, in the midst of fog-clouded, one-lane roads. It is some of the most beautiful scenery in California, but the region's real asset in wine terms lies beneath the surface, where the fabled San Andreas Fault lies. The collision of the Pacific plate with the North American plate is the cause of deadly earthquakes, but it also creates a complex soil structure that makes this one of the most terroir-driven areas in the US.
For a Snaphot of Sonoma Coast Terroir, we look to its complex soils, from clay loam near the San Pablo Bay to the rocky soils in the ridges off the Pacific coastline. This is a cool micro-climate with high rainfall relative to other parts of Sonoma County, but still warm enough to ripen grapes because most vineyards are above the fog line.
Ross Cobb is working Pinot Noir magic here, after cutting his teeth at the likes of Williams Selyem and Flowers. He champions a cool-climate style of Pinot Noir that captures the complex nuances of the Sonoma Coast, and of top vineyard sites including his family’s Coastlands Vineyard. Cobb says his approach is to "authentically reflect the terroir of each vineyard, striving for a more complex, aromatic, lower-alcohol expression of the varietal picked at lower Brix and aged with a modest amount of new French oak."
2010 also marks the year that Cobb took over the winemaking at Hirsch, one of the California's most famous Pinot Noir vineyards. It is Hirsch’s 30th year of farming on the extreme Sonoma Coast, and the Estate San Andreas Fault is their signature Pinot and the best representation of the complex terroirs of this vineyard. This, along with Cobb's single-vineyard wines from 2009, are stunning examples of the potential of world-class Pinot Noir in the Sonoma Coast.