Today we're releasing two new wines which are partly the result of, and a celebration of, a three year effort to win federal approval for the Petaluma Gap AVA. AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas, are legally defined grape growing regions that are intended to help the wine consumer understand what they're buying. A wine simply labeled California can contain fruit grown anywhere in the state and doesn't really offer any clues as to what the wine might taste like. On the other hand, if you see Lodi on a label, you likely think warm temperatures, which means very ripe fruit, which is why many wonderful, big, bold red wines like Zinfandel come from that region. See Sonoma Coast on a label, and you likely imagine cool climate, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay do well. The smaller and more defined the AVA, the more specific you can be in your expectations of what the wine will be like.
Which is where the Petaluma Gap comes in. One of the smallest AVAs in California, it has been hailed by wine writer Dan Berger as being "...possibly the most distinctive pinot noir area in the United States", with "...more distinctiveness from Gap-grown wines than almost any other". Stretching southward from Cotati through Petaluma, the topography creates a wind tunnel effect that pulls cool ocean air and fog into the vineyards, allowing for slow, even ripening of the grapes and development of complex flavors without over-ripening.
Our two new wine releases, our estate grown 2016 Evening Standard Pinot Noir and the 2018 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay are, in our humble opinion, fine examples of what Dan calls the "distinction" that comes from the Petaluma Gap. Our McEvoy Ranch vineyards sit at the southwest corner of the Gap, while the La Cruz vineyard sits northwest of us, both in the path of the winds and fog that define the region. Both wines are defined by balance; they are seamless and multi-layered, with no one aroma or flavor standing out. The Evening Standard Pinot Noir is rich and round without being clumsy, with notes of red berries, plum, spice and savory. The La Cruz Chardonnay shows mouthwatering, juicy hints of pear and apple, balanced by fresh, lively citrus notes and a hint of vanilla and baking spice. To complement these elegant flavors, winemaker Byron Kosuge, as is his style, used a deft hand in fermenting and aging the Chardonnay (he was not here for the 2016 Pinot Noir harvest, but did the final blending and bottling of the wine). The result are two very sophisticated, and very delicious wines.
Since Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are genetically related, which is partly why they tend to do well growing together, we thought we would design the label of our first vintage of La Cruz Chardonnay in a way that celebrates their relationship. So just as we place a typewriter on our Evening Standard Pinot Noir as a nod to the publishing background of the McEvoy family, we added an image of an old typewriter key on the La Cruz. The letter X represents La Cruz-The Cross. And as the Las Cruz vineyard is smack dab in the middle of the Petaluma Gap, we're happy to say that X marks the spot.
We're really excited to offer these two new wines to you. Come up to the Ranch to taste them for yourself-we'd love to hear what you think!