Medium ruby color; cherry, raspberry, blackberry, vanilla, cedar, baking spice on the nose; raspberry, tart cherry, blueberry, oak notes on the palate.
Dry; subtle tannins; balancing acidity. Medium body. Tart elements from the raspberry and cherry notes. Grapes come from a 30-year-old organic and dry-farmed vineyard. This is a mildly assertive pinot. Not an in-your-face California pinot, usually found in lower end efforts with significant non-pinot blenders tossed in. This is 100% Sonoma PN grapes. Same time, it is not the ethereal, gossamer conjurings of Willamette Valley. Solid, tasty, and built to hold its own with assertive food pairings. 14.1% ABV
Lake Sonoma Winery is a brand of the Stewart Family, a pioneering Canadian winemaking family that first planted vines at the Okanagan Valley (Canadian Pacific northwest) in 1961. Other brands include Quails’ Gate (Okanagan), Valley of the Moon (Sonoma), and Plume (Sonoma). The winery was owned by F. Korbel & Brothers in an attempt to branch into premium still wines; in 2012 Korbel re-focused on their sparkling portfolio and sold to the Stewarts.
Jaime “JJ” Dowell is the winemaker. She notes that Sonoma is still “farm-driven” and seeks to allow the soil and the grapes to take center stage, not the winemaker. That is how excellent wine is made.
Dowell earned her degree in viticulture and enology from UC-Davis and did internships in Napa until she took a life detour to manage and operate her family’s art gallery in East Bay. After a decade, she returned to wine part-time as the winemaker for Crooked Vine & Stony Ridge Winery. After three years of splitting time between the art gallery and the winery, she soul-searched, sold the gallery, and focused full-time on wine.
JJ spent time in New Zealand making high-end pinot noir. She then joined Bonny Doon Vineyards, followed by Alpha Omega Winery, then Round Pond Estate. In 2019, the year of this vintage, she became a consulting winemaker for West Coast Wine Partners, with includes making wine for Lake Sonoma Winery and Valley of the Moon Winery.
Lake Sonoma Winery sources its grapes from Sonoma winegrowers. The website notes: “exclusively from esteemed vineyards of Sonoma County, a wine-growing region home to some of the most diverse terroirs and micro-climates in the world. This diversity is best expressed through Sonoma’s sub-appellations, many of which are renowned for specific varietals that thrive in each.”
Lake Sonoma Winery Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2020 is solid, vivid-fruit pour that delivers some tartness without the overbearing, confected fruit you can encounter with lower-shelf California pinots that include substantial non-pinot juice. This is pure Sonoma PN play put together by an experienced, expert team. Substantial enough to be enjoyed by itself or light finger food, charcuterie board. Works well with food. Pair with salmon and other fleshy fish; steamed mussels and other shellfish; pork; freshwater fish; rich enough to work with grilled, lighter beef; lamb, veal, venison; pork; braised duck. Cheese—fresh cheeses, mixed milk cheeses, soft goat cheeses; burrata, mozzarella, feta, mascarpone, rocchetta. $26-30