Owned by winemaker Ed Kurtzman and vineyard-owning partners Howard Graham (Graham Family Vineyard in Russian River) and John Peterson (Peterson and Cortada Alta vineyards, SLH). The winery is located in San Francisco’s produce district. Ed prefers a style he likes to drink himself, making lighter, elegant and food-friendly wines from these two appellations.
Unique in California, the Chardonnays are always made with no new oak, native yeast and barrel-fermented in neutral oak at cooler temperatures over several months, then aged on lees much longer than most for up to 18 months, allowing clarity for unfiltered bottling. Rough, whole-cluster pressed to release tannins and enhance longevity, they are approachable in youth and ready to drink on release.
Pinot Noir Winemaking:
Appellation wines are tank-fermented at slightly warmer temperatures for some extraction, while Vineyard Designate wines are fermented in small t-bins at cooler temperatures for less tannin and extraction. All native-yeast fermented, using 20-33% new oak for single vineyards, while appellation wines usually have no new oak.
Graham is in the coolest, foggy Green Valley part of the Russian River on lightly rolling slopes of sandy Goldridge soil near the river. Sustainably and dry-farmed, Graham ripens in late September with low yields between 2.5-3.5 tons per acre.
Peterson: In the center of the SLH appellation, this very cool site produces fragrant, red-fruited, light colored and earthy wines with taut acidity. Farmed with organic principles on very well-drained sandy loam, yields are very low, from .75 – 3 tons/acre. Loring winery buys most fruit from Peterson, along with Mansfield Dunne and August West.
Cortada Alta: This highest elevation vineyard in the SLH has varying exposures above the fog up to 1650 feet. Warmer days and cooler nights, torture the vines with wide diurnal temperature shifts and well-drained, very steep soils. This results in smaller berries and clusters, thicker skins and tiny yields (1.5 – 2.5 tons/acre), giving more color, richness and grip. Windy Oaks, Wrath, Mansfield Dunne and Sandler also buy Cortada Alta fruit.
Chardonnay, Cortada Alta Vineyard 2017, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County
Winemaker Notes: A lush nose with round, concentrated ripe red apple, tropical tones and a fleshy texture with bright acidity in the finish. The 2017 is August West’s first vintage of Chardonnay from this spectacular new site high up in the Santa Lucia Highlands planted in 2014 by partner, John Peterson. One of the blocks at Cortada sits 1,650 in elevation, the highest fruit in the whole appellation. Whole cluster pressed, barrel-fermented in neutral oak and aged 16 months before bottling. No new oak. 47 cases.
Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands 2017, Monterey County
Winemaker Notes: A blend of two cooler vineyards (45% Peterson Vineyard, 45% Tondre Grapefield) and the sunnier, warmer Cortada Alta 10%. This combination of cool with warm vineyards is apparent in the nose; there are the signature SLH aromas of rhubarb, wet earth and Pinot spice mixed with riper fruits such as plum and blackberry. This vintage has lower acidity and a rich and sultry texture. Made with no new oak. A quick splash decant opens more red notes and higher fruit tones. 550 cases.
Pinot Noir, Russian River 2018, Sonoma County
Winemaker Notes: Rose petals, violets, wild berries and earth aromas and a baking and Pinot spice component to the palate which compliments the refreshing acidity. The finish is very long. Entirely from the Graham Family Vineyard, the chosen clones were picked a week later, blended from selected barrels, and fermented slightly warmer in tank than the vineyard designate release. 20% new French oak. 400 cases.
Pinot Noir, Graham Vineyard 2017, Russian River, Sonoma County
Winemaker Notes: Graham typically produces floral red fruits with some black fruits and earthy, mushroomy side flavors. The nose is classic Russian River Valley with ripe, spicy Pinot fruit and some mushroom notes in the background. It has a soft and round palate feel and good balance for several years of aging. The grapes were harvest on September 19, halfway between the heat wave and the fires, in what was a very good year. Fully destemmed, aged 10 months in 33% new French oak. Brian Loring, Kosta Brown, Bob Cabral and Testarossa also buy Graham vineyard fruit. 97 cases made.
Pinot Noir, Cortada Alta Vineyard 2017, Santa Lucia Highlands
Winemaker Notes: The darkest Pinot ever produced by August West and the second Pinot from this new vineyard, it reflects the higher- elevation concentration of color and flavor typical of this mountain elevation vineyard. The nose is a combination of berry fruit with hints of wild mountain herbs and fully ripe flavors, an irresistible texture and a mouth-filling palate balanced by bright acidity and framed by fine tannins. Fully destemmed, it was native-fermented and aged in 33% new French Oak. 68 cases made.
Available trade materials for download. (POS, Shelf Talkers, Data sheets)