Discover The Best California Pinot Noir | Gary Farrell
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Wine Spotlight: 2017 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Pinot Noir

We were thrilled to expand our Central California fruit sourcing with the opportunity to obtain access to Pinot Noir from the renowned Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is the cornerstone of this iconic AVA and continues to produce exceptional fruit year after year. Although our winery roots run deep in the Russian River Valley, we are always looking to expand our options to include neighboring growing areas for diversification and creativity, and Pinot Noir from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is an exciting addition to our portfolio.

The Wine

Grapes were harvested in the morning hours then brought to the winery. After hand sorting, some of the grapes were de-stemmed, then transferred to open-top tanks while a small percentage of the fruit was added later as whole clusters. The juice was chilled to 45°F and allowed to cold soak for 4-7 days before fermentation. During fermentation, the cap was gently punched down 2-3 times per day. After fermentation, the new wine and its solids sat in tank for 7-10 days of extended maceration, a period during which the tannins soften, and the primary fermentation esters develop complexity. The wine was then gently pressed off the skins and seeds, inoculated for malolactic fermentation and racked into 40% new French oak barrels (light and medium toast François Frères, Ana Selection, Remond and Tonnellerie O) for 10 months of barrel aging on primary lees.

Tasting Notes

Our first release from Sanford & Benedict vineyard is a striking contrast to Pinot Noir blends from the Russian River Valley, this wine is dark in color and boasts aromas of dried tobacco leaves, cassis, black pepper and cedar box. The palate profile is fresh and vibrant, exploding with flavors of dark Bing cherry, sour boysenberry, and pomegranate seeds. The weight seems light and tangy initially, but opens up after two or three sips into a medium-bodied wine with ample, firm tannins that, combined with residual fruity, floral flavors, leaves a distinctly Earl Grey tea flavor and coating on the tongue.


  • 94 Points- Cellar Selection | Wine Enthusiast, Sept 2020


The Vineyard

In 1971 Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict took a chance on a spring fed farm on the north facing slopes of the east west traversing Santa Ynez River on California’s Central Coast and planted what became Sanford & Benedict Vineyards to Pinot Noir. The success of this site depends on the maritime influences of the Pacific Ocean. The movement of fog and cooling winds up valley and the soil, a living medium of minerals and organic material, is quite unique to

this growing region. A byproduct of receding seas, river-deposited particles, landslides and the slow weathering of ancient stone, which in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA includes shale, serpentine, and sandstone..



The Sta. Rita Hills American Viticulture Appellation is located on California’s Central Coast in Santa Barbara County. The Pacific Ocean’s marine layer and afternoon ocean breezes traverse the coastal valley corridors between the Purisima Hills and the Santa Rosa Hills, creating the perfect environment for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other cool climate wine grape varieties.


Intro to Gary Farrell Winery

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery is a 40-year pioneer of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. Winemaker Theresa Heredia joined us in 2012, carrying on our legacy of crafting Burgundian-styled, varietally expressive small-lot artisan wines capturing the balance and stylistic elegance of some of the finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA and beyond; including Rochioli, Allen, Bacigalupi, Hallberg, Ritchie, Olivet Lane, Durell, Gap’s Crown, Fort Ross and Sanford & Benedict. Theresa works closely with our growers to showcase the exceptional fruit from their vineyards in each of her wines.


Watch the Grower Spotlight Video HERE

Russian River Valley Vineyards

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