Ram’s Gate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2018

Pale ruby color; redcurrant, cherry, blood orange, hibiscus on the nose; cherry, redcurrant, raspberry, plum, rhubarb, pomegranate on the palate.

Ram’s Gate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2018

Dry; genteel tannins and good acidity. Supple in the mouth. Very delicious easy drinker. Excellent expression of Sonoma Coast red fruit. Aged 10 months in French oak, 28% new. Delivers a memorable pinot noir experience. 14% ABV

Ram’s Gate is a project of managing owner Michael John, a San Francisco private equity investor and wine collector who is active in environmental improvement efforts. He is joined by Jeff O’Neill, Paul Violich, and Peter Mullin.

The website notes: “The Ram’s Gate ownership team is led by Managing Owner Michael John, a San Francisco private equity investor and wine collector, with strong ties to the wine industry in addition to being active in environmental improvement efforts; Jeff O’Neill, the owner of O’Neill Vintners and former Chair of the Wine Institute, Paul Violich, a well-known Northern California investor and agri-business leader specializing in walnut and almond plantings; and Peter Mullin, a businessman and passionate wine grower who owns a 15-acre estate in Umbria, Italy, where he grows Sagrantino and Sangiovese grapes. Ram’s Gate Winery is the realization of their shared passion for fine wine and commitment to land stewardship.”

Ram’s Gate winery

Hands-on management is interesting. From the website: “Taylr Behnam Cuneo is Managing Director for Ram’s Gate Winery. While she has always held a passion for the art of pairing a delicious meal with high-end wine, today she oversees not just the Ram’s Gate culinary program but the winery operations and hospitality, as well.

Ram’s Gate Managing Director Taylr Behnam Cuneo

“A California-native, Taylr graduated with a business degree from Loyola University Chicago in 2007. Immediately following, she pursued her passion for culinary arts and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2010. Fueled by a desire to explore how wine and food can interact, Taylr found herself drawn to wine country. She was among the first members of the Ram’s Gate team when she joined as Sous Chef in 2011 and by 2012, she transitioned to Executive Chef. During her tenure, she helped build the winery’s state-of-the-art culinary program. With her background in business and management, along with her can-do attitude and willingness to tackle any challenges that come her way, she climbed the ladder and became Managing Director of Ram’s Gate Winery in 2017. Taylr believes that, like wine, building a legacy brand takes time and patience, and is motivated by a desire to see Ram’s Gate constantly catapult to the next level.”

Ram’s Gate Director of Winemaking Joe Nielsen

Joe Nielsen is the director of winemaking. Website notes: “Following nearly ten years at Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa, Joe became Director of Winemaking at Ram’s Gate in 2018 and spent his first year focused on digging into the soils of Ram’s Gate and falling in love with the estate. ‘Coming to Ram’s Gate, I feel like I’ve been given a pile of gold and silver and they’re asking me to make jewelry,” says Joe. “I have everything I need to make great wines that are complete, complex and compelling.’”

Ram’s Gate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2018 delivers superb red fruits. There is appealing freshness and graceful smoothness in the mouth, bringing prodigious pleasure to the sipping experience—you easily can enjoy this as a solo sipper or with charcuterie and intelligent conversation with a friend or two. Or three. More people than that, and you better get two bottles. Pair with usual pinot suspects: salmon and seafood in general; turkey; Italian sausage with roasted tomato; lighter red meats. This is extremely delicious, but it is not brawny palate pounder, so I would avoid richer dishes. Let this be the star of the repast. $40-48

Ram’s Gate website

Ram’s Gate vineyard
Ram’s Gate courtyard
Ram’s Gate tasting area
Ram’s Gate vineyard tour
Ram’s Gate founders
Ram’s Gate food-wine tasting
Ram’s Gate outdoor tasting