The Pine Ridge Journey, Through Napa Valley’s Finest Vineyards.
Dutch wine importer Pallas Wines recently invited us for a Californian wine tasting and masterclass, showcasing some of the latest additions to their wine portfolio. After an extensive search through California they selected four wineries and their wines, a mixture of wines from different appellations. We are sharing some of the highlights and backgrounds for the wineries that have been selected. In this article we are taking you to Napa Valley and the Stags Leap District, to learn more about Pine Ridge Vineyards, part of the Crimson Wine Group.
Pine Ridge Vineyards – Napa Valley, Stags Leap
“Elevated Elegance: The Pine Ridge Journey Through Napa Valley’s Finest Vineyards”.
Carved out in 1978 by Gary and Nancy Andrus, Pine Ridge Vineyards is a beacon in Napa Valley the Stags Leap District in particular. Positioned strategically within the heart of this prized district, the vineyard epitomizes the elegance and boldness of Napa’s Cabernet Sauvignon. With a vast expanse of ~65 hectares, including a prime ~19 hectares in Stags Leap, each vineyard plot reflects a story, a tribute to the legacy of its founders and the promise of its future. Besides Stags Leap the winery sources from the following Napa Valley appellations (AVA’s): Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford, and Carneros.
The heartbeats behind Pine Ridge are its esteemed winemakers. Joshua Mendoza Widaman, with his global experience spanning from the illustrious terrains of Burgundy to the rugged landscapes of Chile, steers the ship with a vision. As he often muses, “Every bottle of Pine Ridge wine is a testament to the land it springs from.”
The vineyard’s tapestry is enriched with over 30 clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, each bringing its personality to the table. The much-celebrated Stags Leap Cabernet Clone 4, known for its robust flavors and intense aromatics, is a staple. Meanwhile, the Clone 337, revered for its elegance and balance, has found its way into the hearts of many.
In the words of Gustavo Aviña, the viticulture director, “It is not just about the wine; it is about the story each vine narrates, and at Pine Ridge, every story is a legacy.”
Pallas will be importing Pine Ridge’s CB+V, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon.
Napa Valley: The Jewel of Californian Winemaking
A name synonymous with American viticulture, Napa Valley is a tapestry of varied terrains, microclimates, and histories. Encompassing over 400 wineries and spanning from the edges of San Pablo Bay up towards the shadows of Mount St. Helena, its vineyards paint a vivid landscape of diversity and heritage. From sun-kissed plains to hillside terraces, Napa Valley’s terroir offers a canvas that has been meticulously painted upon by generations of vintners.
Stags Leap District
Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, the Stags Leap District stands proudly as one of its most iconic sub AVAs, having been officially recognized in 1989. The district, though compact at 1,100 hectares, is home to 20 wineries, an array of which are deeply embedded in the history of Californian winemaking. Of its cultivations, 90% are dedicated to its crown jewel, Cabernet Sauvignon, while the remainder diversifies into other varieties, adding layers of richness to the district’s portfolio. The landscape is defined by its unique volcanic soil and vineyards set at altitudes up to 120 meters above sea level, giving the wines their distinct character.
As pioneers, the Grigsby and Horrell families recognized the potential of this terroir and planted the first vineyards in the 1840s. Key events that shaped the district include the arrival of European immigrants in the 1870s and the establishment of the Stags Leap Winegrowers association in the late 1980s.
Napa Valley’s Richness
Besides Stags Leap there are four other key appellations that are crucial for Pine Ridge’s success:
Elevated above the valley floor, the vineyards in the Howell Mountain AVA benefit from a cooler climate and well-drained, volcanic soils. This elevation imparts the wines, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon, with a distinctive robust character and an earthy minerality.
Situated in the heart of Napa, the Oakville AVA is a name revered globally for its bold and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons. The combination of its well-draining alluvial soils and the marine influence from the San Pablo Bay creates wines of depth and complexity.
With its signature “Rutherford Dust,” the Rutherford AVA has a soil profile that gives the wines a unique earthiness, setting its Cabernet Sauvignons apart. Sunlit days and cool nights, thanks to coastal fogs, nurture grapes that result in wines with deep fruit flavors and velvety tannins.
Straddling both Napa and Sonoma, the Los Carneros AVA is influenced heavily by the cool breezes of San Pablo Bay. Its mild climate and clayey soils make it perfect for Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Here, the wines are marked by their acidity and crispness, making Carneros the go-to place for sparkling wines as well.
1. CB+V Distinctive White Wine 2021
- Vineyard: Not Specified
- Grape: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier
- Ageing: 100% Stainless Steel
- Tasting Notes: Radiant aromatics of lime, orange blossom, and honeysuckle from the Chenin Blanc meld with heavier stone fruit notes of nectarine and peach, lightly touched by floral hints from the Viognier.
A very uncommon blend but one that takes the best of two beautiful varieties. Food friendly wine but also a you to drink on its own. We award this white blend with a 90-point DWA score.
2. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
- Vineyard: Various Napa Valley AVA’s
- Grape: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 7% Petite Sirah, 5% Malbec
- Ageing: 18 months, 35% new French oak and 15% new American oak
- Tasting Notes: Alluring black cherry and cassis aromas, graced by floral nuances and warm notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate delights with ripe cherry and blueberry compote flavors, underscored by vanilla cream and cinnamon. Silky tannins round out the experience.
A classic example of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from an iconic winery. Showcases some of the best appellations and vineyards of the Napa Valley region and is a true representative. We award this Cabernet with a 93-point DWA score.
3. Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
- Vineyard: Pine Ridge Vineyards Estate, Stags Leap District
- Grape: 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Sirah, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec
- Ageing: 20 months in 70% new French oak
- Tasting Notes: An elevated expression with baking spice, blonde roast coffee, and cracked black pepper aromas dancing with ripe fruit scents. The palate comes alive with pomegranate and black raspberry flavors, culminating in a structured finish punctuated by fine tannins and invigorating acidity.
A distinguished representation of Cabernet Sauvignon from the globally acclaimed Stags Leap District. We award this Cabernet with a 95-point DWA score.
Pine Ridge Vineyards is your gateway to Napa Valley, Stags Leap and great Cabs. The estate does a great job in interpreting the different Napa Valley terroirs and their wines are being offered at strong price points although of high quality.
Pallas Wines has put some serious effort in researching California and its most prominent wine regions. The result of their search shows a wide array of great wines, suited for every day drinking or special occasions. Wines from iconic wineries and appellations, but also talented prospects. The mentioned wines by Pine Ridge Vineyards will be imported in the Netherlands by Pallas, and available partners in trade and hospitality. The exact composition of the portfolio will most likely change and evolve over time, and some of the wines are only available in very low quantities and sold on allocation basis.