Best known for its cool climate and proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the “True” Sonoma Coast is considered the far western edge of the coastline. This challenging extreme cooler coastal climate has vineyards competing with fog, wind and ocean breezes to ripen fruit, and is renowned for its distinct Pinot Noirs.
“Lots of energy with subtle notes of spicy chocolate, rose stem and dried strawberries. Medium-bodied with fine tannins and a succulent finish. Red fruit in the finish. Fruit tea.” - James Suckling
Elegant and refined, this contemporary Pinot Noir is a classic expression of the cool Sonoma Coast. The wine is lithe, perfumed, and intriguing, with savory and nuanced characters. It exhibits aromas and flavors of wild bramble berry fruits, including black cherry, black raspberry, and rhubarb, supported by lifted notes of violet, black pepper, and sweet oak spice. It’s juicy and mouthwatering with an earthy minerality that shows on the finish, with chewy, fine-grained tannins and a core of crisp acidity.
Despite some memorably atypical factors, the 2020 season was another successful vintage. Hallberg, which sits in one of the coolest areas of Sonoma County, experienced a harvest that was earlier than previous vintages. It was a warm, dry winter and the rain and cooler weather didn’t arrive until the end of March. While the mild spring provided a great early start, the winery followed extensive safety protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Summer brought very cool mornings and very warm days. Harvest was interrupted by wildfires across California, which came just as grapes started to be picked. We were very fortunate that none of our vineyards were in the active fire areas. The red wine harvest started in late August and the wines showed excellent development in cellars, reflecting the fine vintage year.
Fruit for this wine was selected from the Hallberg vineyard just outside Sebastopol. The vineyard features Goldridge Sandy Loam underlain with Sebastopol Sandy Clay Loam soils on gently rolling ridge tops and enjoys beautiful sunny afternoon weather tempered by fog and cooling coastal breezes from the Pacific, about 20 miles away. The vineyard is dry farmed, without irrigation, and sits just 200 feet above sea level. Dry-farming helps the grapes achieve full physiological ripeness at lower sugar levels, with more complex taste components in heightened balance. There are 11 different Pinot Noir clones planted in various blocks throughout the vineyard, which is actually in three growing regions: Green Valley, Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast.
We primarily source from Green Valley, where the fog is its trademark. One of the smallest appellations in Sonoma County, it lies in the southwestern part of the Russian River Valley, bounded by the towns of Sebastopol, Forestville and Occidental. It is very tightly delineated, both geographically and climatically, and is the most consistent of any North Coast appellation in terms of soil, climate and flavor. Here you find mostly Goldridge soil, the most sought-after type in Sonoma County—especially for Pinot Noir, as the wines exhibit a distinctive flair.
Crafted with the same minimal winemaking techniques as Etude’s celebrated Carneros Pinot Noirs, each regional wine purely reflects the unique essence and character of its regional vineyard and still maintains Etude’s hallmarks of aromatic intrigue, vibrancy of expression and depth in ageability. The Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir underwent cold maceration in small lot open-top fermenters with extended time on the skins and including a small number of whole clusters. The wine is aged in French Oak with a small percentage of new barrels.
For more than a decade Jon has fashioned Etude wines with a simple creed. Inspired winegrowing diminishes the need for a winemaker to intervene in the cellar. Whether sourcing from the estate Grace Benoist Ranch in Sonoma's Los Carneros, or vineyards like Fiddlestix and North Canyon in famed growing regions of California's Central Coast, his focus is on coaxing the very best from the vineyard. It shows in every glass of Etude.
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