Cool Climate Character
Winery: Owned by former Secret Service Agent Chris Von Holt and former Dance Studio owner wife Pamela Miller, Von Holt Wines aim to produce wines with elegance and bright natural acidity, early-harvested from single vineyards in cool-climate regions in a nuanced, feminine style. With the Secret Service, Chris protected 4 presidents, 4 vice-presidents and others on travels to over 40 countries, where often he witnessed pride in locally sourced food and drink, inspiring the idea of creating California wines near his hometown San Francisco. Pamela’s wine inspiration came from a childhood friend from France whose family allowed them sips of wine with meals as a young girl.
Vineyards: Desiring wines with grace and refinement rather than brute strength, they searched to find outstanding vineyards in cool pockets of the Russian River and Sonoma Coast. These moderate, relatively steady temperatures allow for slow and gradual ripening, protect delicacy and nuance in the fruit, early picking at low brix, and produce delicately balanced wines with unique character.
Winemaking: Von Holt wines are made in a state of the art winery in San Francisco operated formerly by Ed Kurtzman, a friend and advisor to the Von Holts and to winemaker John Fones. Fones has assisted with non-interventionist winemaking at Freeman, August West and Roar following his UC Davis training, after leaving behind a successful 16-year career as a Baltimore attorney. Limiting production to 750 cases per year gives them artisan attention to the winemaking. Saying “the work is done if you pick at the right time,” Fones sorts the grapes before fermenting with a varying mix of native and cultured yeasts. He bottles without fining or filtering the wines, using light oak treatment of 20-35%. Usually low in alcohol, Von Holt is not dogmatic about the 14% threshold, yet aims for a lean and bright style.
Viognier 2017, Terra Alta Vineyard, Lodi Certified Organic 12.5% alcohol
Winemaker Notes: “A nose of white flowers and honeysuckle, it shows an easy, pleasing entry to the palate and lovely fruit. Clean, bright and with a pleasing dose of acidity.” This 100% Viognier is undisturbed by any new oak. Farmed Certified Organic. 50 cases.
Pinot Noir 2017, Sonoma Coast
Winemaker Notes: “The 2017 vintage of Sonoma Coast is a blend of 2/3 Hummingbird Hill and 1/3 Suacci Vineyard. These two diverse sites (geographically, soil types, orientation, clones) brought together here to make a layered and complex Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. A compressed and early harvest for all three clones at Hummingbird in 2017 due to the unusual high temperatures in early September. This allowed for some co-fermentation of the clones – something we’ve always wanted to do.” Flowers Winery also uses Hummingbird fruit, which always tends towards dark cherry and dark plum flavors. These Pommard clone vines are situated in the wind-blown, chilly Petaluma Gap on a southwest- facing, moderately sloping hillside. The Suacci Vineyard is much cooler and offer red-fruited, brighter flavors and aromatics. 100% used French Oak, no new oak. Unfined and unfiltered. 137 cases made
Pinot Noir 2016, Suacci Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 13.4% alcohol
Winemaker Notes: “A wonderful vintage. An intriguing nose of ripe citrus and forest floor leads to a wonderfully balanced mix of red fruit flavors. A smooth, layered and textured finish of 60 seconds portends a long life ahead. Gorgeous.” Sustainably farmed, this hillside vineyard is cooled by ocean breezes and fog, and in 2016 reflects lower yields and resulting flavor intensity. Tiny clusters from limited 1.5 Tons/acre yields were rigorously sorted and aged in 33% new Seguin Moreau barrels. A splash decant advised. 72 cases made.