General News

  • Food & Wine

    Forget Everything You Know About California Pinot Noir – Here are 12 bottles to help you rethink this popular grape.

    Food and Wineby Brian Freedman
    January 29, 2018

    “We’ve all heard it before; maybe we have even been guilty of uttering the words ourselves: California Pinot Noir? It’s just too fruity, and everyone knows that Burgundy is so much better…”

    “…Here are a dozen wines, listed alphabetically, that embody all of the excitement of Pinot Noir in the state right now. If you can’t find these particular ones, fear not: Just explore the shelves of your local wine shop. The possibilities, and the potential to be charmed, are infinite.”

    2015 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
    A particularly elegant expression of Russian River Valley, with a gorgeously floral nose preceding harmonious flavors of red cherries, violets, and exotic spice.”

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    “Top 100 Wines of 2017”

    by Linda Murphy
    December, 2017

    Let’s be honest: Sonoma’s most acclaimed and highest-quality wines are expensive.

    Top-tier Sonoma Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, the current darlings of critics and collectors, command $60 a bottle and up. That’s painful for many of us, yet Sonoma wines are less pricey than Napa Valley bottles of similar quality. Heck, even some Napa types slink into Sonoma to source their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so admired are our county’s grapes.

    While this list is studded with wines most would consider special-occasion purchases, there are also many reasonably priced bottles and some crazy-good values. In addition to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, our Top 100 showcases rosé — its popularity soaring now that sweet White Zinfandel is firmly in the rear-view mirror. ‘Red’ Zinfandel remains historically and deliciously important, with high-alcohol versions largely giving way to wines with balance and freshness. Sauvignon Blanc, Rhône Valley-style wines, Bordeaux varietals and sparklers are all represented here, underscoring Sonoma’s ability to produce a diverse range of fine wines.

    Drink up, in moderation.

    2015 MacRostie Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay
    “A new wine for MacRostie, it’s rich and polished, with unfolding layers of pear, green apple, hazelnut and caramel. The finish is lemony and brisk, making it a great mate for Caesar salad, grilled salmon cakes, chicken salad and seafood pasta.”

    2015 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard ‘Terrace Block’ Pinot Noir
    “Named for Steve MacRostie’s wife, Thale (THAY-lee), this inaugural bottling from the estate vineyard on Westside Road is arguably the winery’s ‘biggest’ Pinot Noir. Yet it’s still balanced and refined, with silky texture and refreshing acidity carrying the juicy black currant and blueberry fruit and hints of mocha and spice.”

    View on Sonoma Magazine


    A New Pinnacle

    by Karen MacNeil
    September, 2016

    “An extraordinary surge in the quality of California Pinot Noir has caused Karen MacNeil to re-examine everything she thought she knew about one of the world’s most celebrated grapes”

    “I should say from the start that I’ve come to Pinot Noir reluctantly. It took me a long time to like Burgundy, for example. Initially, drinking red Burgundy was like being in a dysfunctional relationship. The highs were high, but the lows were too low and too frequent.

    MacNeils’s baker’s dozen to try
    2013 MacRostie Goldrock Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 92 Points: Highly recommended
    I love the yin and yang of cool and warm flavors in this wine. Spiced cranberries (a cool flavor); Christmas pudding (a warm one). Counterintuitively and despite the alcohol listed on the label, the wine is light and ethereal at first, with long lingering lines of flavor. It resolves very slowly on the palate. Like the fade-out at the end of an old French film. Drink 2016-2026.”

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  • The Daily Meal

    10 Terrific New World Pinot Noirs

    by Gabe Sasso
    August 18, 2016

    “Pinot noir, one of the best wine grapes in the world, can also be one of the most frustrating. Great winemakers have been brought to their knees trying to master it. When planted in the right spot and tended carefully thereafter, it’s been responsible for some of the world’s finest wines. Thus, when many wine lovers think of pinot noir at its best, they naturally look towards Burgundy. However, there are plenty of New World wineries that are doing a very respectable job with the grape.

    Not everyone is successful, though. For every great producer out there, someone else is making horrible wines that say ‘Pinot Noir’ on the label but look and taste like anything but. Here are 10 pinot noirs from California, Oregon, and Chile, at a variety of prices, all of them true to this great grape — and also delicious.”

    2013 MacRostie Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir
    “The well-known Dutton family, which has a long history of grape-growing in Sonoma County, farms the single vineyard the fruit came from. Aging took place over 12 months in 25 percent new French oak. Soft spice aromas waft from the nose here alongside fresh red raspberry. Rhubarb, cherry, and cranberry flavors are evident on the palate. Minerals, black tea, and wisps of sage appear on the finish. It’s all topped off by a sprinkle of sweet dark chocolate.”

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    Try these 14 reasonably priced, good chardonnays

    by Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr
    August 16, 2016

    “Here are some excellent chardonnays that are reasonably priced for what they deliver:”

    2014 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
    “Steve MacRostie has made chardonnay the name of his game by using several excellent vineyards in Sonoma County. This introductory chardonnay sets the foundation for his single-vineyard chardonnays from Wildcat Mountain ($40) – our favorite – and an austere, food-friendly Dutton Ranch ($46). Pineapple aromas give way to a softly textured wine with balanced acidity in the Sonoma Coast version.”

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  • 1 Wine Dude

    And Then, There Was Mojo (Highlights From Sonoma County Barrel Auction 2016)

    by Joe Roberts
    August 3, 2016

    “Personally, I didn’t need any more evidence that Sonoma generally has its mojo working and is making some of the best wines ever to come out of the region. But I got a thoroughly inundating reminder of that when I visited the second (2016) incarnation of the Sonoma County Barrel Auction as a media guest this past April (and yes, I’m just getting around to writing about it now)….

    And so, here are some of my faves from SoCoBA 2016, in order of auction lot number (links are to as-close-as-I-could-manage-to-commercially-available-versions of the wines featured, or otherwise to previous 1WD coverage of the same producers):”

    Bacigalupi / Dutcher Crossing / Flanagan Wines / Gary Farrell / MacRostie Winery Judgement of Paris 40th Anniversary Barrel Chardonnay 2015 Lot #7
    “In typical ‘we are family’ mojo fashion, there were several ‘we’re-in-this-together’ lots that were crafted jointly by more than one winery, but few that had this many working on them, and few that were as fantastic as this Chardonnay blend. Probably the best white wine on hand at the auction; honeyed, toasty, ripe, long, heady, and yet finessed and electric.”


    12 Diverse Sonoma Chardonnays

    New reviews of rich whites from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley

    by Augustus Weed
    January 18, 2016

    “Tax season is peeking around the corner, so now is a good time to take stock of your wine budget. We’ll help you stretch your dollar further with six exciting Chardonnays for $30 or less.

    Take MacRostie’s Sonoma Coast bottling for example. At $25, it offers plenty of zesty, citrus-kissed fruit and mouthwatering acidity, making it a welcome guest at the dinner table. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed, with some of the lots fermented in stainless steel to emphasize the bright fruit and aromatics.”

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    The Good Gets Better

    by Mary Ewing-Mulligan
    January 12, 2016

    “…MacRostie Winery’s Pinot Noirs have always landed in the positive camp for me. But even so, California’s – and especially Sonoma County’s – trend toward higher quality Pinot Noir has made those wines even finer…”

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    Technical Spotlight

    by Andrew Adams
    January 2016

    “Since Steve MacRostie founded his eponymous winery in 1987, the name MacRostie has meant high-quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A few years after launching the winery, MacRostie set up shop in a warehouse in the industrial area along Eighth Street East near the city of Sonoma. While the area has become a hotbed for boutique warehouse wineries in recent years, MacRostie’s may have been the first.”

    “Steve MacRostie built his brand’s reputation on quality wine and a national Chardonnay program out of an improvised warehouse space. The current owners’ goal of cultivating a DtC following for small-lot Pinots appears much more achievable today, as they now have a winery and tasting room to support that goal.”

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    Tom Simoneau’s Wines of the Year

    by Tom Simoneau
    December 29, 2015

    Sonoma County vintner and KSRO radio host Tom Simoneau has created and released his ‘Wines of the Year’ list for 2015.

    2013 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay
    “You’ve heard the expression, right grapes grown in the right place. No wine defines that phrase more than this MacRostie masterpiece. Planted in 1998 in The Petaluma Gap of the Sonoma Coast AVA, Wildcat Mountain Vineyard is Steve MacRostie’s secret weapon. Stop by his new winery on Westside Road just outside of Healdsburg.”

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  • New Jersey Star-Ledger

    MacRostie chardonnays keep their balance

    by John Foy
    October 1, 2015

    “For decades, I’ve enjoyed chardonnays made by Steve MacRostie.

    MacRostie founded his eponymous Sonoma County winery in 1987 after more than a decade as the winemaker at Sonoma’s Hacienda Winery. I appreciated Hacienda’s balance, and, in the 1980s, had its wines on my list at Le Delice restaurant. And in the 1990s, MacRostie chardonnay retained a prized placed on my list at Sonoma Grill.

    As a chef, I valued balance. Too much alcohol, oak flavor, tannins or fruitiness in the wine destroyed my dish; MacRostie’s chardonnays never did that…”

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    One Cool Cat: Pinot Noir & Steve MacRostie

    by Michael Cervin
    June 21, 2015

    “Grapes are grown across Planet Earth so there is no shortage of growing sites. What is lacking is near perfectly suitable growing sites. Several years ago I visited Steve MacRostie at the base of his Wildcat Mountain property in Sonoma, overlooking the San Pablo Bay. We drove up a lengthy hill to the top of a sparse parcel of land where meek looking grapevines were planted. I wrote about the experience for

    ‘I felt Wildcat would push the envelope, something untried. The cooler climates, the stressful site, the thinner soils; this is not a safe place to set up a farming operation. In a business sense it was probably rather stupid,’ he said plainly. Stupid or not, MacRostie planted 4 acres of Syrah, 23 acres of Pinot Noir and 23 acres of Chardonnay, all on volcanic soil with elevations ranging from 500 to 700 feet. From the very top of the vineyard, assuming it’s a clear day, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland and the Mayacamas mountains to the west. But it is the fog, funneled through San Pablo Bay from the cold Pacific Ocean that is the most frequent guest on Wildcat Mountain. ‘Often we’re not above the fog or below it,’ says MacRostie with a grin, ‘we’re in it.’ And if it’s not the fog, it’s the wind. The vines are literally windswept, bent back by the consuming force of wind off the bay, running up the mountain and pummeling the vines like a boxer with too much confidence. Though it is an odd choice for a vineyard, isolated and abused by Mother Nature, once you find yourself standing in its midst, it seems that it’s the perfect place, where soil, prevailing breezes for cool climate varieties and well-drained soil all complement each other to bring forth great wines. ‘What I didn’t know was how windy it would be here and how difficult that would make the farming,’ he adds. ‘The vines read the climate as being cooler than it really is and they slow down their activity. We don’t have monstrous crop levels and we don’t drop fruit. In fact, we’re challenged in the other direction, how to get more crop.’

    2012 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir – 90 Points
    “Fast forward to 2015 and I have the 2012 Pinot Noir Wildcat Mountain in front of me. There is a luscious spicy black cherry and blueberry cedar and vanilla component to this wine. It’s earthy, mineral driven, with a mild acidity that can only come from the beat up vines on Wildcat Mountain. The velvety viscosity, earthy richness and specific flavors are unique to what MacRostie gets from this fruit. Only 878 cases so go on the prowl and find it.”

    Full Article Here


    What to Drink Now: California White Wines

    by Hayley Hamilton Cogill
    June 9, 2015

    “When you think of white wines from California your mind may venture to the buttery, creamy, oaky Chardonnay selections in which the state became known for in years past. Fortunately, for the most part, that style has given way to lighter, cleaner Chardonnay with bright acidity. These wines are interesting and refined. Yes, oak is still used and wines are still put through full malolactic fermentation, but with a lighter touch, using more neutral oak to encourage slight oxidation while the wine ages, without imparting a lot of flavor. Additionally, new varieties, like Albarino, Gruner Veltliner, Viognier, and many more, continue to pop up in vineyards throughout the state. I have tried a mix of California white wines lately, here are a few that stood out. Some samples were sent for editorial consideration.”

    2013 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
    “Fruit grown near the Sonoma Coast benefit from an ideal mix of warm temperatures during the day, to ensure fruit reaches their optimal ripeness, followed by a drop in temperature at night, ensuring the fruit maintains the right balance of acidity. Add a mix of fog, winds off the Pacific and mineral rich soils and you have the base for some stellar wine. MacRostie Winery showcases this with their MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Though the wine goes through full malolactic fermentation, lees aging and the use of oak, the goal isn’t to create a rich, vanilla bomb, it is to make a wine with depth and texture, maintaining the brightness and freshness of the fruit, while creating a rich and elegant wine. Blending wine aged in a small amount of new French oak (20%) with that aged in neutral oak and stainless steel, the wine stays crisp, with layers of lemon peel, white peach and spice. $25, available at Pogo’s.”

    Full Article Here

  • Colorado Springs Gazette

    Wine Guy: New releases of chardonnay show better balance

    by Richard Mauro, April 13, 2015

    “Chardonnay has a lengthy record as America’s favorite white wine. Its deserved reputation for greatness (particularly the white wines of Burgundy) is at least partly responsible for that popularity. Another reason is it can be made in different styles to appeal to varying tastes and occasions. Regardless of style, chardonnays typically offer ripe fruit flavors of citrus, apple, pear or tropical, and sometimes melon or fig. Many wineries attempt to emulate the richness and depth associated with Burgundy, the benchmark for the grape. It used to be common in California for wineries to go to extremes, employing full malolactic fermentation (converts sharper malic acid to richer lactic acid) and 100 percent fermentation and aging in new oak barrels. Such wines are rare today. But the wines below still use significant amounts of these to great effect, deftly walking the line between richness and freshness.

    Two single-vineyard wines from MacRostie – the 2012 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay, from an intemperate location in the Sonoma Coast, and the 2012 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay, from a historic and prized vineyard in Carneros – are rich and full-bodied with oak influences but still loads of pure fruit.

    More wineries are getting better at balancing the use of oak barrels and malolactic fermentation to complement quality fruit with the sweet, spicy or toasty elements from oak more as seasoning than as dominant characteristics. Generally, this means less oak, less new oak and less time overall in barrel. Many only undergo partial malolactic fermentation. These are all recommended:”
    2012 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
    2012 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay


    Collector Starter Kit

    Sarah Schneider, April 2015

    Most wines aren’t meant to age – they’re ready to drink when you buy them. That said, when you move up the price chain a little, bottles tend to promise to get more interesting over time (how much time varies among varieties and vintages – the subject of much debate). The simplest plan: Trust producers with track records, and you’ll be rewarded for your wait. A handful of wines can launch a cellar. Think about the times you wish you had a special bottle on hand – and buy (more than one, to kick-start things) for those occasions.

    A top version of the country’s favorite wine
    Chardonnay will please your out-of-town guests, and well-balanced Chards age well for a few years (Benovia, Lynmar Estate, MacRostie, Red Car, Sandhi, Three Sticks).


    Making Wine and Realizing Dreams

    sonomavalleysunby Greg Walter
    March 18, 2015

    “…it’s great to be able to write about a winemaker who has been a fixture here in the Sonoma Valley for decades who in the last five years or so has hit some truly high points on the “dreams realized” list.”

    Full Article Here


    Raising a Glass to Distinctive Chardonnays

    Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, February 18, 2015

    “Steve MacRostie of Sonoma County’s MacRostie Winery and Vineyards appreciates what a vineyard can bring to chardonnay.”

    2012 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay
    “We loved the generous aromas in this estate-made wine. Once you linger over the jasmine and honey aromas, you pick up rich tropical fruit flavors and lingering finish. The wine has enough acidity to complement food but also a richness on the finish.”

    2012 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay
    “A little bigger in style, the Sangiacomo chardonnay has more oak notes and a mineral thread to keep it interesting.”

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    Your Thursday wine: MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    Sandra Silfven, February 12, 2015

    “The MacRostie style is crispness, complexity and vineyard character. You will find the Chardonnays delicate and intense — like fine tapestries of fruit woven with oak and braced with acidity, while the Pinots are striking with rich, generous, spicy fruit expressive of the growing site.”

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    A Scotsman and His Russian Chard

    Michael Cervin, January 19, 2015

    2012 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 91 Points

    “Steve MacRostie, whose family hails from Scotland, has been at the wine business for a long time debuting his first Chardonnay in 1974. It is merely one of many Chardonnay’s that clutter store shelves, right? Well yes, and no – it may sit aside other Chards, but this baby is the one you should be reaching for just now. The MacRostie 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay is one of those wines that can please a broad variety of palates, specifically those people who don’t like Chardonnay. This wine has it all: acidity, creaminess, notes of melon, peach, green apple, judicious oak and vanilla, a weight in the palate and is actually definable unlike the majority of tedious Chardonnays (at either the $10 range, or conversely at the $60 price point which are over-oaked and heavy handed). What MacRostie manages to do with classic Russian River grapes is make a Chardonnay that truly represents what Chardonnay is supposed to taste like. If you think Chardonnay is a either a butter and oak bomb, or you think Chardonnay equates with beige, you need to try this. And once you do, a kilt and haggis may not be far behind!”

  • The Press Democrat

    This Week’s Wine Picks

    Peg Melnik, January 5, 2015

    2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    “This is a tasty pinot noir, crisp and lively. It has bright cherry fruit and a hint of pomegranate, with mushroom and cinnamon in the mix. It has great structure and balance, yet manages to have a lush texture. Lovely.”

  • Houston Lifestyles & Homes

    More Winners for Dinner

    January 1, 2015

    2012 Goldrock Ridge Pinot Noir

    “Here is another MacRostie Pinot to go with their Wildcat Mountain Vineyard — and just as good. Goldrock Ridge Vineyard sits at 780’ elevation near Annapolis — a few scant miles from the Pacific Ocean. The vines are low-yielding, producing high quality grapes with beautiful color and intense flavors. Only 12 barrels produced. Try with grilled salmon or roasted chicken and vegetables.”

  • The Press Democrat

    This Week’s Wine Picks

    Peg Melnik, December 19, 2014

    2012 Goldrock Ridge Pinot Noir

    “This pinot has a bright flavor profile with crisp, high-toned fruit. Notes of raspberry, cranberry and a hint of tobacco. Great balance. Impressive.”

  • The Press Democrat

    Wine of the Week: MacRostie pinot perfect for holiday parties

    December 1, 2014

    2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

    “This pinot has a dashing kind of elegance. It has bright fruit and vibrant acidity. Aromas and flavors of pomegranate, red currant and spice. Great structure. Just lovely.” –Peg Melnik

  • The Press Democrat

    This Week’s Wine Picks

    Peg Melnik, November 20, 2014

    2012 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay

    “A tasty, layered chardonnay with a great range of flavors. Notes of brioche, honey and lemon peel. Nice acid. Balanced. Rich, yet leads with its bright fruit. Lingering finish.”

  • The International Wine Review

    Top Rated Producers

    Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler, November/December 2014

    “Founded in 1987 by Steve MacRostie, this winery produces some of Sonoma County’s finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. The winery sources grapes from its own Wildcat Mountain Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap and from outstanding neighboring vineyards such as Dutton Ranch, Sangiacomo Vineyards, Thale’s Vineyard, Goldrock Ridge Vineyard and others. The wines are made by wine industry veteran Heidi Bridenhagen who joined MacRostie in 2011. MacRostie wines are defined by their rich flavors and silky elegance.”

  • Sunset Magazine

    What Bottle to Bring?

    Wine editor Sara Schneider shares her holiday favorites

    November 2014

    “It’s no shocker that for my family’s Thanksgiving dinners, I’m expected to bring the wine… I opt for wines with three main characteristics: generous fruit, good acidity, and minerality or earthiness….

    On the red front, I pick Pinot Noir. It’s also high in acidity, with red berry/cranberry fruit that works well with cranberry sauce. Pinot often also has layers of warm baking spice, resiny herbs, forest floor, and mushroom notes that link to the rotating ingredients of the day.”

    2012 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    “Bright red cherry cola leads, seasoned with cinnamon, fresh herbs, and a balancing earthy character.”

  • Sonoma Valley Sun

    Great Local Highlights from Pinot On The River

    Greg Walter, October 30, 2014

    “This past weekend found me at the 11th annual Pinot On The River Festival Grand Tasting… I decided to put together my list of these local Pinot stars. If you like Pinot and don’t know about these wineries, get out there and find them.”

    MacRostie Winery and Vineyards

    “Steve MacRostie has been making Pinot Noir in and around Sonoma and Carneros for more than four decades, starting his career just out of UC Davis in 1974 at Hacienda Wine Cellars. Today MacRostie Winery produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in a balanced, high-toned style with Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley as the focus. The vineyard designate wines are deep and complex and promise even more interesting wines to come.”

  • The Press Democrat

    Go-to Spots for the Best Coastal Chardonnays

    August 30, 2014

    “Established in 1987 by Steve MacRostie, the winery has long been known for making balanced, age-worthy wines. MacRostie toiled in the soils of Carneros and the Petaluma Gap for years before venturing into the extreme Sonoma Coast to source some 30 sites for grapes, including Campbell Ranch, Keefer Ranch and Dutton Ranch. Heidi Bridenhagen has been making the wines since 2011, as head winemaker since 2013. The 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($25) is bright in tangerine and lime with just a trace of subtle vanilla oak.”