June 2015


    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


    The Top Westside Road Wineries

    by Joe Becerra
    June 17, 2015

    MacRostie Estate House – “Newest winery on Westside Road, spectacular setting”

    “Traveling from Healdsburg on Westside Road, on the right your eye will catch the beautiful rolling vineyards and the spectacular MacRostie Estate House tasting room. You will be greeted with a glass of wine. Tasting is sit down fashion either inside or out on the terrace. Visitors usually get two wine glasses to enjoy and compare two different Chardonnay wines and two Pinot Noir wines. It is a great way to educate your palate and discover the subtle differences in two wines. Veteran winemaker Steve MacRostie brings a new style of wine tasting to Westside Road.”

    Full Article Here


    MacRostie’s new digs on Westside Road

    by Joe Becerra
    June 17, 2015

    “After 28 years of making very fine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Sonoma Valley, Steve MacRostie finally has his dream tasting room and Pinot Noir winemaking facility. It is a beautiful piece of vineyard property located on scenic Westside Road that runs along the Russian River. There are many beautiful attractions along this road, and the MacRostie Estate House adds another element of splendor to the area.

    Steve MacRostie – wine pioneer in California

    Early on in his career, Steve established himself as pioneer winemaker with his tantalizing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. Steve began making wine in 1974 and soon became interested in producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in a true Burgundian style – fresh, crisp, and food friendly. In 1987 he established his MacRostie label and began producing wine in Sonoma Valley. He sought out vineyards in the Sonoma Coast region that provided the terroir ingredients of fog and cooling breezes. His main winemaking facility is in a warehouse-style building in Sonoma Valley. The opening of the MacRostie Estate House in the Russian River Valley marks a new era in Steve MacRostie’s winemaking career.

    MacRostie Estate House

    What a wonderful spot to enjoy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir! We visited the Estate House last week. As we walked toward the entrance, the doors opened and we were greeted with a delightful glass of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. This is standard for all visitors who arrive at the tasting room. What a very nice welcoming touch. Beautiful vineyard views of the Russian River Valley surround the tasting room. Besides the welcome glass of wine, there are two other features seldom found in a wine tasting experience. Wine tasting at MacRostie is sit down, elegant but not over the top. One can sit outside on the terrace or in the main area at tables or on a relaxing chair or sofa. The server comes to you and explains the wine. The staff goes through some serious training, so a tasting is very educational. A second added touch is a side-by-side comparison of wines. There are two glasses at each table setting, sometimes three depending on the tasting. This gives wine country travelers the ability to compare two wines of the same varietal made from different vineyards or in a different style. We tasted the Russian River Valley Chardonnay alongside a vineyard Chardonnay, the Wildcat Mountain Vineyard. In the Pinot Noir category, we enjoyed the Russian River Chardonnay and the Goldrock Ridge Vineyard from Annapolis on the Sonoma Coast. The side-by-side tasting is a great way to educate your palate and to discover the subtle differences in two wines.

    The MacRostie Estate House also has a separate small winemaking cellar equipped with state-of-the-art winemaking equipment. This is where Pinot Noir will be made from the 2015 harvest of their Russian River Valley vineyards. These days Steve takes a secondary role in the winemaking, tending to more of the vineyard management and business aspects of the winery. The main winemaking duties belong to Heidi Bridenhagen, who handles the majority of the winemaking duties. Steve says he appreciates the fresh ideas that the young people he hires bring to his winemaking methods.

    To get to the MacRostie House, take Mill Street under Highway 101. Mill Street becomes Westside Road. Drive for about nine minutes on Westside Road and look for the winery on the right. Take it slow and enjoy the beauty of this area of wine country. The MacRostie House is open daily from 11am to 5 pm. Reservations are recommend especially on weekends.”

    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