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 2016, Sonoma Coast 13.9% alcohol
Winery Notes: “An expressive nose of Bing cherries and pomegranate. A smooth entry to the palate with wonderfully developed flavors of ripe raspberries and red cherries. A pleasing finish of 30 seconds.” Blended from Suacci, Hummingbird and Elie-O vineyards, including Pommard, Rochioli and Calera clones. Aged in used Seguin Moreauu French oak, using no new oak. Racked once prior to bottling unfiltered. 200 cases.
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.
Pinot Noir 2016, Hummingbird Hill, “Petaluma Gap” Sonoma Coast New Vintage 13.7% alcohol
Winemaker Notes: “Another wonderful vintage on Hummingbird Hill allowed for even ripening throughout all three clones and charming, nuanced flavors. An expressive nose of dark cherries and sandalwood. A smooth, clean entry to the palate with flavors of black cherry and bittersweet chocolate. A lasting finish of 45+ seconds.” Flowers Winery also uses Hummingbird fruit. Situated in the wind-blown, chilly Petaluma Gap on a southwest-facing, moderately sloping hillside. 33% new French Oak. Unfined and unfiltered. 135 cases made.