General News

  • 5 Wines to Buy Now – 2019 Pinot Noir Rosé

    The Houston Chronicle

    by Dale Robertson
    June 24, 2020

    2019 MacRostie Pinot Noir Rosé Russian River Valley – 19.3 Points out of 20

    Dry, fresh and fruity. Ripe cherry, peach and tangerine with dried herbs. Very drinkable.”

  • The Press Democrat “Wine of the Week”

    The Press Democrat

    by Peg Melnik
    June 23, 2020

    “Wine of the Week”

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay

    “There’s a paradoxical unity in social distancing. Who knew the pandemic would make many feel so connected, like kindred spirits?

    ‘At the winery, I would say being distanced from one another has brought us closer,’ said Heidi Bridenhagen, the winemaker of MacRostie Winery. ‘We’re in this together and it has brought out the best in everyone. The amount of empathy and understanding has been amazing.’

    The philosophical winemaker who sees the upside in this pandemic is behind our wine of the week winner – the 2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay at $36.

    Rich, yet balanced, this chardonnay has a blend of enticing tropical and citrus notes. It has aromas and flavors of green apple, papaya and lime. The wine begins with aromas of toffee, with citrus notes just beneath, and follows it through to the palate. The MacRostie has a lush texture, yet finishes crisp. It’s an impressive wine and a steal for this caliber of chardonnay.

    Other top-rated chardonnays to consider include: Gary Farrell, 2017 West Side Farms, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Chardonnay, $55; Jordan, 2018 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Chardonnay, $35; Goldschmidt’s Singing Tree, 2018 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, $18 and Crossbarn, 2019 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, $27.

    As for the MacRostie chardonnay, Bridenhagen said it was a delight to craft.

    ‘This wine is my winemaker’s playground,’ she said. ‘We work with so many iconic growers in the valley — the Duttons, Martinellis, Bacigalupis, Kent Ritchie, Charles Heintz and more. Each site is a small slice of chardonnay heaven, and with our Russian River Valley chardonnay I don’t have to stick to one specific vineyard. I can play with the diverse flavor and aromas from each vineyard and layer them together into what I feel embodies a great Russian River chardonnay.’

    Making wine during a pandemic complicates logistics, but Bridenhagen isn’t losing sleep. Winemaking has made her an experienced tactician.

    ‘My job as a winemaker is a constant series of decision making, which is something I consider myself good at,’ she said. ‘So taking the pandemic and assessing each situation individually – is this action high-risk? Can I make it medium- or low-risk? – is just another layer to consider and address.’

    Bridenhagen, 36, joined MacRostie in 2011 after working at Vinwood Cellars, a Geyserville production facility owned by Jackson Family Wines. She earned a degree in biochemistry and a minor in chemistry in 2006 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    The winemaker likes the mysteries intrinsic even in a mainstream grape like chardonnay.

    ‘Many people have assumptions about what chardonnay tastes like, but chardonnay is incredibly versatile and has a huge breath of expression,’ Bridenhagen said.

    The masked winemaking team sits 10 feet apart from each other when discussing wines.

    ‘Winemaking is an incredibly familial environment,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘It feels strange to not be able to hug, share a glass of wine and a meal with my co-workers or a shift beer at the end of a long day that was particularly rewarding. That said, winemaking has been going on for thousands of years and it continues even during a pandemic.’”

  • “5 Wines to Buy Now”

    Houston Chronicle

    by Dale Robertson
    May 24, 2020

    “The Houston Chronicle’s tasting panel remains on hiatus until further notice, but we haven’t stopped swirling and sipping on our own. Here are five recommendations, sampled blindly, from a mix of eminently trustworthy individual tasters.

    2019 MacRostie Pinot Noir Rosé Russian River Valley – 19.3 Points out of 20

    Dry, fresh and fruity. Ripe cherry, peach and tangerine with dried herbs. Very drinkable.”

  • “Wines For The Man In Your Life”

    South Florida Reporter
    by Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr
    June 14, 2020

    “We don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that the last several months have been challenging. For many the challenge has been struggling with a virus that maims and kills. For others, the challenge has been coping with financial stress. Perhaps there is little to celebrate, but we like to look on the bright side. Better times are ahead. Let’s celebrate what we have.

    Father’s Day is just around the corner and there is probably a man in your life who has braved exposure to the virus in order to keep food on the table. Maybe he is a doctor, a police officer, fireman, teacher, truck driver, grocery worker who has saved lives and risked personal danger to provide for our families. Let’s show the love.

    Below we list some expensive wines – and a few not so expensive – that would make great Father’s Day gifts. Add a steak for him to grill and we are confident he will be a happy man.

    2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley 

    In a flight of chardonnays, this one stood out for its austerity. Aged in oak in just 17 percent new barrels, there is just a kiss of oak flavors. That plus only some malolatic fermentation and you have a clean, unadorned chardonnay that goes well with food. Tropical fruit flavors.”

    Download Article here

  • 2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    The Press Democrat 

    by Peg Melnik
    May 20, 2020

    “Tasty Alternatives” 

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – ★★★★: Highly recommended

    “An earthy pinot with depth of flavor. Notes of blueberry, toast and a hint of mushroom. Full-bodied and balanced. Lovely.”

  • 2019 Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc

    The Press Democrat 

    by Peg Melnik
    June 9, 2020

    “Tasty Alternatives” 

    2019 Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc – ★★★ ½: Good

    “Citrusy flavors play up front with tropical flavors playing back up. Seamless texture. Nice length. Smart.”

    Download full article here.

  • 2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    The Press Democrat 

    by Peg Melnik
    May 19, 2020

    “Tasty Alternatives” 

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – ★★★★: Highly recommended

    “An earthy pinot with depth of flavor. Notes of blueberry, toast and a hint of mushroom. Full-bodied and balanced. Lovely.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

  • 2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 93 Points

    Wine Review Online 

    by Rich Cook
    May 19, 2020

    “A favorite Chardonnay producer scores yet again with a crisp, lively expression of Dutton Ranch’s tart apple and tropical fruit profile. Rich texture is preserved with 50% malolactic fermentation and some lees stirring while keeping the acidic structure clearly in focus, resulting in lively flavors and a crisp finish that pumps the pineapple character. Delicious!”

    2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley

  • Sonoma: Another Brilliant Vintage in 2018

    Seven outstanding wines. These wines are outstanding for their type and are worth the extra effort to seeking out.

    by Jeb Dunnuck
    May 2020

    2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 93 Points

    “More complex notes of mulberries, black raspberries, forest floor, bouquet garni, and spice emerge from the 2018 Pinot Noir Wildcat Mountain. Beautifully textured and medium-bodied, with a great mid-palate and silky tannins, it’s unquestionably an outstanding effort and should easily drink well for 4-6 years or more.”        

    2018 MacRostie Kent Ritchie Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 92 Points

    “From a site in the Russian River and aged in 25% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Kent Ritchie offers lots of toasty and spicy notes as well as orchard fruits, medium body, a pure, clean, soft style, good acidity, and a clean finish. It’s another impeccably made Chardonnay that delivers the goods.”     

    2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay Sonoma Coast – 92 Points

    “Brought up in 24% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Wildcat Mountain is another terrific effort. White flowers, toasted spice, peach, and honeysuckle notes all dominate the nose, and it’s fresh and lively, yet also textured and lengthy on the palate.”

    2018 MacRostie Bacigalupi Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 91 Points

    “Last of the Chardonnay, the 2018 Chardonnay Bacigalupi comes from a site on the Russian River Valley and was raised in 22% new French oak. White currants, apple blossom, spice box, and honeyed toast characteristics give way to a soft, juicy, balanced beauty that has good acidity and a clean, elegant style ideal for drinking over the coming 4-5 years.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 91 Points

    “The translucent ruby-hued 2017 Pinot Noir Thale’s Vineyard was completely destemmed and spent 10 months in 40% new French oak. Coming from a site in the Russian River Valley, it’s made in a more elegant style yet still brings the Russian River fruit profile with lots of cherry and mulled strawberry notes as well as medium body, a core of sweet fruit, and a great finish. It’s another balanced, charming, incredibly delicious Pinot Noir from this estate. Drink it over the coming 3-5 years.”

    2017 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 91 Points

    “The most expensive release in the lineup, the 2017 Pinot Noir The Loch comes from a site on the Sonoma Coast and was brought up in 40% new French oak, with the balance in once- and twice-used oak. It has a touch more oak yet packs plenty of light cherry and strawberry fruit, subtle spice, medium to full body, a great mid-palate, ripe tannins, and a good finish. I don’t find it considerably better than the other releases here, but it’s still a terrific wine.”

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 90 Points

    “The 2018 Chardonnay Russian River Valley is in the same ballpark, with beautiful purity of fruit (orchard fruits, white flowers), medium-bodied richness and depth, good acidity, and terrific overall balance. Both of these two appellation blends are terrific wines well worth seeking out.”

    Download MacRostie Reviews

  • Restaurant Wine Review of MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

    Restaurant Wine 

    by Ronn Wiegand
    February 2020

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 4 Stars: Excellent quality for its type, style, and price. Among the very best of its type for its price. Highly recommended

    “Screw cap. Excellent: supple and finely flavored, this Pinot Noir is a crisp, balanced wine, with rose petal, cherry, red currant, black tea, and oak aromas/flavors, and a long finish. Shows a bit of tannin; can develop further. Fine value.”

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 3+ Stars: Very good quality for its type, style, and price. Has distinctive character and positive attributes. Recommended

    “Screw cap. A full bodied, crisp Sonoma Coast Chardonnay of very good quality. It is round, delicately flavored (pineapple, white peach, lime, toast, roasted nut), balanced, and lingering on the finish. Very good value; will develop with modest aging.”

    Download Pinot Noir Review

    Download Chardonnay Review

  • Fodor’s San Fransisco – Napa and Sonoma – Healdsburg Sights

    Fodor’s Travel San Francisco

    by Daniel Mangin 
    Published 2020

    MacRostie Estate House

    “A driveway off Westside Road curls through undulating vineyard hills to the steel, wood, and heavy-on the-glass tasting space of this longtime Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producer. Moments after you’ve arrived and a host has offered a glass of wine, you’ll already feel transported to a genteel, rustic world. Hospitality is clearly a priority here, but so, too, is seeking out top-tier grape sources-30 for the Chardonnays, 15 for the Pinots – among them Dutton Ranch, Bacigalupi, and owner Steve MacRostie’s Wildcat. With fruit this renowned, current winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen downplays the oak and other tricks of her trade, letting the vineyard settings, grape clones, and vintage do the talking. Tastings, inside or on balcony terraces with views across the Russian River Valley, are all seated.”

    Download Article

  • 2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 91 Points

    Wine Review Online 

    by Rich Cook
    April 28, 2020

    Another fine Chardonnay from one of my favorite producers. This multi-vineyard wine shows winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen’s talent for blending, showing nice range from apple and citrus notes to more tropical suggestions of pineapple and mango. A creamy mid-palate and a crisp finish make this a glass I could swirl and sip all day, or pair with a salmon in cream sauce. Well done!”

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

    Download Review

  • The Best Wines For Springtime’s Bounty Of New Foods

    Forbes.comMariani’s Virtual Gourmet Newsletter 

    by John Mariani 
    April 23, 2020

    “I’m not fond of people who serve me produce out of season, like the tasteless, sinewy asparagus people eat all year long and tomatoes that were picked in the middle of January. I therefore look forward with baited breath to what springtime brings to market, and I love nothing more than to match up wines appropriately. Now’s the time for strawberries, radishes, peas, arugula, basil, mint, fennel, morels, apricots, cherries, dandelion greens, fava beans, fiddlehead ferns, new potatoes and rhubarb to come out. (Artichokes are also in season but, despite the earnest efforts of  some wine writers to match them with wines, none really work.) And spring lamb is readily available and at its best. Here are some wonderful match-ups.

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

    At 14.5% alcohol, this is considerably more powerful than most Chardonnays, even from California, but, if you like this style, with pronounced oak and vanilla, this well-priced Sonoma example is your best choice for lobster with clarified butter, bluefish and soft-shell crabs.”

    Download Article

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    by Virginie Boone
    May 2020

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “From a high-elevation coastal site, this wine is dazzling in juicy red fruit, gentle spice and a great length and breadth of textured intensity. Toasted oak adds more spice and a note of dark chocolate, which combines well with the rich, rewarding core of berry.”

    2017 MacRostie Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “This lovely, balanced wine from the great site is nuanced in rose, lavender and dark cherry-strawberry richness, the palate juicy and supple with generous tension and texture. Spicy forest and black tea mingle with ease amongst the core of fruit, the finish lengthy and graceful.”

    2017 MacRostie Olivet Lane Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “This is a light, ethereal take on the variety, savory in forested earth, black tea and crispy red fruit. Made in a restrained, elegant style, it sings in acidity and energy, and has a subtle dusting of white pepper that is immensely complex.”

    2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “From the famous Petaluma Gap site, this light-bodied, elegant wine is fresh and rich in baked strawberry, forest and dried herb. Lengthy in savory spice and black tea, it has structure to spare, with firm, supple tannin and integrated oak.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “With a delicate floral nose met by cherry spice, this is a sumptuous and lovely red wine, fully lush in strawberry and black cherry. French oak wraps around the fruit effortlessly adding nuances of vanilla and baking spice.”

    2017 MacRostie Cumming’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Juicy strawberry, black tea and turned earth open into a midpalate of light, bright acidity, with a meaty underbelly of richness in this wine, sourced from a vineyard in the Santa Rosa Plains and farmed by Charlie Chenoweth. The finish hints of orange peel and cardamom.”

    2017 MacRostie Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Tangy, edgy acidity underlies the buzzing core of this structured, high-toned wine from the new appellation. Stony mineral and crisp, crunchy red fruit defines its medium-bodied frame of complex tannin integration and graceful finish.”

    2017 MacRostie The Key Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “This is a master blend from the best barrels of the vintage from many of the best single vineyards, which showcases exotic quince, Asian pear and fig. Bright, fresh notions of tangerine emphasize the inherent acidity, with a rich creamy midpalate along the way.”

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Floral, silky and succulent, this is a robust, full-bodied wine, expressive in blueberries and red-berry fruit. Dry tannins wrap around ripe layers of richness and texture and are seasoned lightly in dried herb and baking spice.”

    2017 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Tangy citrus is further boosted by tart, sharp acidity in this intensely full-bodied, ripe and boldly textured wine. The barrel imprint is strong, adding to the weight and breadth of the wine, which finishes in earth and black pepper.”

    2017 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Creamy red fruit is complemented in a light, buzzy earthiness of tree bark, dried herb and mineral in this textured midweight wine. The appellation is well represented, the wine quietly rich in dark cherry, pomegranate and cola.”

    2016 Clockwise Napa Valley Red Wine – 88 Points: Very good; often good value; well recommended 

    “This blend of a majority Cabernet Sauvignon with sizable additions of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec delivers simple fruitiness and dark layers of spice. Supple and approachable, it broods in blackberry, clove and earth.”

    Download MacRostie Reviews

    Download Clockwise Review

  • 2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 93 Points

    Wine Review Online 

    by Marguerite Thomas
    March 31, 2020

    “The grapes for this elegant wine come from the northern end of California’s Russian River Valley. You might savor it even more knowing that a scant 40 cases of the wine have been produced. This palate pleaser rests as light as silk in the mouth, offering bright berry nuances along with gentle hints of spice, cocoa and vanilla, while gentle and inviting acidity makes for a nice finish.”

    2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    Download Review

  • How Wineries Are Keeping The Juices Flowing During The Pandemic

    by Lana Bortolot
    March 31, 2020

    “Forced to shutter their tasting rooms, U.S. wineries, which rely heavily on direct-to-consumer sales, are having to think fast on their feet. Survey results released last week by the National Association of American Wineries painted a grim picture of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wine industry. Ten percent of the U.S. wineries responded, with the average respondent estimating a 63% decrease in sales during March. Anticipating business for April was also dark: on average, wineries expected a 75% decrease decline (with the median estimating an 80% loss). If able to resume operations on April 30, the average business recovery time was estimated to be three months. That could be a big ‘if.’

    While waiting it out, wineries are finding ways to cope, discounting product and shipping rates and tying in charitable-giving incentives. And even in uncertain times, wine-industry leaders large and small are stepping up relief efforts—from cash and in-kind donations to employee and peer support. Here’s a roundup of who’s doing what to keep the juices flowing.

    In Sonoma ValleyBricoleur Vineyards is donating 10% of all wine purchases to the Redwood Empire Food Bank. Inman Family Wines is donating 5% of their proceeds to Meals on Wheels. MacRostie Winery and Vineyards will donate $10 to No Kid Hungry for every online order. Ram’s Gate Winery is donating 5% of net proceeds from their spring release to Meals in Wheels San Francisco. Winery Sixteen 600 will donate 10% from every order to the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Undocufund to help people most effected by the ongoing pandemic and shutdowns.

    The Donum Estate is charging a $10 flat-rate shipping for orders of any size (code FRIEND10), and will donate $10 to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund for each online order.

    For every 10 meals ordered through its dinner club, Kivelstadt Cellars will deliver one free meal to a service industry worker affected by the crisis at no cost, and is rolling out a donation meal program this week.On April 2, Three Sticks Wines will partner with Healdsburg’s SingleThread Farm restaurant and Sonoma Family Meals to donate 200 meals to the Graton Day Center, an advocacy organization for day laborers and other workers and their families. Another day of sponsored meals is forthcoming (TBD).


    Numerous prestige Napa wineries are offering free or reduced shipping, including Long Meadow Ranch and Stony Hill wineries (use the code SENDWINE at checkout for Long Meadow; code NEEDWINE for Stony Hill purchases); and Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel. Sonoma’s MacRostie Winery and Vineyards offers a 1¢ shipping on 12+ bottles, $10 ground shipping on 3-11 bottles (plus that $10 donation to No Kid Hungry for every online order).”

    Download Article

  • 2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 93 Points


    by Michael Cervin
    March 25, 2020

    “A tinkerer at heart, Steve MacRostie was drafted in the U.S. Army as a cryptographer. That means attention to detail and Steve’s wines, which I have reviewed for over a decade, all have the imprint of his attention to detail all over them. His 2017 RRV Chard offers upfront notes of muted lemon verbena and lime kefir, with mid-palate notes of guava, light honeysuckle, white peach, and pear, and back notes of browned butter along with a mild acidity. The wine went through a partial malolactic fermentation, then was aged for a scant 10 months in both new and used French oak, but that accounted for only 38% of an impact on the wine, therefore it’s not overbearing. The result is a playful, balanced (between oak and fruit) wine that is elegant, usable with a variety of foods, or just to enjoy as a classic Russian River Chardonnay.”

    Read Full Article

  • Year’s Best Pinot Noirs

    Wine & Spirits

    by Josh Greene
    April 2020

    2017 MacRostie Donnelly Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “Catch this wine now for its pretty scent of roses and its gentle, peppery grip. It’s the color of a red rose petal and just about as delicate, with muddled-cherry flavors in the middle, ending clean and refreshing. Pour it with pan-roasted salmon and wild mushrooms.”

    2017 MacRostie Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “This is a tense, floral pinot noir, with a cool jasmine note over its formal oak structure. While half of the lot aged in new French oak barrels, the herbal fruit is framed by wood notes but not diminished. From a vineyard farmed by the Dutton family, this is a sophisticated pinot with lasting flavors.”

    2017 MacRostie Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “The winds of the Petaluma Gap left their mark in the potent grape-skin tannins of this wine. It grows on a west-facing hillside in rocky, volcanic soils, taking on spicy green-peppercorn scents and dark cherry flavors. Grippy and bold, this is a wine for pasta with rabbit sausage and wild mushrooms.”

    Download Donnelly Creek Review

    Download Manzana Review

    Download Rodgers Creek Review

  • Sonoma Coast Wineries Need Your Love Now More Than Ever

    Here are 29 excellent bottles of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to look for.

    Food & Wine

    by Brian Freedman
    March 18, 2020

    “Despite the way that wineries are often portrayed in the movies, many of them are small family businesses that exist just a single bad harvest or ill-timed hail storm away from financial disaster. As restaurants close and in-person tastings have been greatly diminished, this is a good time to support your favorite wineries by stocking up on their bottles. The pandemic is impacting businesses across the entire swath of the economy, and wine producers are no different. Stocking your cellar is arguably the best way to support them right now, and it has the ancillary effect of making these strange, terrifying days seem a little less fraught. Wine has always been a source of sunshine in dark times, and we could all use that now more than ever.

    Sonoma Coast has become one of the most popular, important sources of Pinot Noir in the United States. Due to its large size, however, and the range of sub-AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas, within it, you can’t discuss Sonoma Coast in terms of any sort of consistent style.

    Andy Peay, one of the legends of Sonoma Pinot who has been at the forefront of the movement for the West Sonoma Coast to gain AVA status, says that painting the entire Sonoma Coast AVA with a broad brush is just as inaccurate as saying that you do or don’t like all California wines.

    ‘I’m in the very northwest corner of the West Sonoma Coast,’ he told me. ‘We don’t get out of the low-70s at the hottest time of the day in July or August.’ Fog from the Pacific Ocean comes through the Petaluma Gap, and while it warms up during the day, it gets a lot warmer in Russian River Valley and inland because the fog burns off, he said. Those differences throughout Sonoma Coast, and from pocket to pocket, can be felt and tasted in the wines.

    ‘The term ‘Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir’ means nothing and everything at the same time, simply because there is so much diversity in the region as far as microclimates and soil types,’ said Vanessa Wong, the owner of Fishtown Social, a wine bar in Philadelphia.

    The wines are, in general, absolutely delicious, and the overall quality is very impressive across the board. Below are 29 wines from throughout Sonoma Coast worth looking out for. They come from boutique producers and famously large ones, and run the gamut in terms of price and the number of bottles that were made. Some are more lean and mineral in character and others are riper and more generous. What they lack in consistent style, however, they more than make up for in exemplifying why the diversity of Sonoma Coast and the ambition and vision of its top producers are so outrageously exciting right now.

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir Fort Ross-Seaview

    High-toned and aromatic lifted. On the palate, a chocolate and caramel core anchors the generous red and black cherries, kirsch, and rosemary. Perfect with pulled pork.”

    Download Article

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    Wine Enthusiast Magazine

    by Virginie Boone
    April 2020

    2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 93 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “From an estate vineyard, this robust red offers waxy plum, dark cherry and stemmy earthiness, a mix of forest and floral that works against its integrated oak and tannin. Baking spice and cardamom season the richness of the fruit, allowing for a crispness on the finish.”

    2017 MacRostie Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “This wine is rich and intensely citrus-driven, with robust oak and concentration. Balanced acidity helps contrast against the generous tropical fruit, crème brûlée and baking spice, allowing for a crisp finish.”

    2017 MacRostie Champlin Creek Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Rich, round and tropical in nature, this medium-bodied wine is also citrusy in tangerine. Fleshy, full bodied and abundant, it has a long finish of baked apple and nutmeg.”

    2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Juicy, soft, rounded and rich, this memorable wine is ample and opulent in pear, Gravenstein apple and vanilla, with a racy tease of tropical mango and pineapple. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced and food-friendly within its hearty oak and ripeness.”

    2017 MacRostie Kent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “From the historic site planted to older vines, this white is reductive on the nose, developing in the glass to offer juicy layers of pear, pineapple, golden honey and caramel. Made in a rich, full-bodied style, with texture and weight, it finishes heartily in toasted oak.”

    2017 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Thick and grainy in citrusy lemon zest and bright acidity, this appellation wine impresses in its high tones of pleasing jasmine and flinty rock. Green apple and mango star on the midpalate, as a thread of baking spice and toasted oak pierces through.”

    2017 MacRostie Olivet Lane Chardonnay – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “The well-established site in the heart of the appellation contributes dark, brooding flavors of baked apple, spice and oak to this richly layered wine, thick in pineapple and crème brûlée. It lurks in acidity, keeping the palate refreshed.”

    Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    by Jim Gordon
    April 2020

    2017 MacRostie Day Ranch Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “This nicely balanced wine shows all the good things about Pinot Noir in a compact, relatively light package. Red-cherry, oak-spice and tea-leaf aromas are followed by tangy cherry and cranberry flavors, energized by good acidity and mild tannins.”

  • The Press Democrat “Wine of the Week”

    The Press Democrat

    by Peg Melnik
    February 18, 2020

    “Wine of the Week”

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    “The Sonoma Coast is full of intrigue for winemakers puzzling together a blend. They’re scouting the rugged terrain for vineyards that deliver something unique.

    But if you’re Heidi Bridenhagen you don’t stop there. The winemaker of Healdsburg’s MacRostie Winery takes grapes streaming in from 30 different vineyards and creates 100 different, 1-ton fermentation lots.

    ‘With these micro fermentations, I’m really trying to tease out all the diversity Sonoma County has to offer,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘It’s really a big blend, but it’s really fun to make.’

    The winemaker of these uber blends is behind our wine of the week winner –– the MacRostie 2017 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir at $34. This pinot offers generous fruit –– weighted to red flavors like cherry –– and impeccable balance. It has aromas and flavors of Bing cherry with a streak of cranberry, tobacco and cracked black pepper. Crisp acid keeps this fruit-forward pinot in sync. It’s a steal for the quality and complexity of this Sonoma Coast pinot.

    ‘Pinot noir can be very elegant and nuanced, and so trying to capture that and accentuate it and not overpower it, well that’s the challenge,’ Bridenhagen said.

    The geographic reach of these vineyards stretches from the San Pablo Bay to the south to Sea Ranch to the north.

    ‘I really try to take the time to learn what pinot has to offer,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘I explore the vineyards, trying to see what kind of elegance and nuance they have. First and foremost. you need a cool climate to make pinot noir sing. The Sonoma Coast really offers a diverse vineyard portfolio.’

    Bridenhagen, 36, joined MacRostie in 2011 after a stint at Vinwood Cellars, a Geyserville production facility owned by Jackson Family Wines. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2006 with a degree in biochemistry and a minor in chemistry.

    ‘I loved the field, and I thought I’d go to medical school or get a job in biotech,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘But after graduation, I took six months to travel all over — western and eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Russian. I was exposed to wine and the culture around it … In college we weren’t wine connoisseurs.’

    After the trip, Bridenhagen moved to the Palo Alto area, and a day trip to Sonoma County changed the trajectory of her life.

    ‘I fell in love with Sonoma County that day,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘The wine itself was very eye-opening, and I loved the culture and lifestyle. So that’s how I became a winemaker.’

    The career, she said, is a good fit, particularly when it comes to producing pinot noir.

    ‘It’s a very delicate grape, and it needs to be handled very intentionally and gently,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘But it’s also what makes it so special.’

    Getting it right, the winemaker said, is very gratifying.

    ‘When you open a bottle that you and your team produced, and when it’s tasting really good, you remember everything that went into making it,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘It’s the ultimate reward at the end of a hard day.’

    This week’s blind tasting

    Top Pick

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – ★★★★★

    This pinot offers complex, generous fruit –– weighted to red –– and impeccable balance. Aromas and flavors of Bing cherry with a streak of cranberry, tobacco and cracked black pepper. Crisp acid keeps this fruit-forward pinot in sync. It’s a steal for the quality of this Sonoma Coast pinot noir.”

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    California Pinot Noir – A Regional Overview

    Forbes Logoby Tom Hyland
    December 17, 2018

    “Pinot Noir, wherever it is grown, is a challenging variety. It’s been called ‘the heartbreak grape,’ and the efforts undertaken by winemakers have been called the ‘quest for the Holy Grail,’ at least in viticultural terms.

    Producers in California are as passionate about making the perfect Pinot Noir – or at least one as good as possible – and it’s a mission that has been going on for over 50 years. Today, there are wineries in many parts of the state that have taken Pinot Noir by the horns, so to speak, and have come up with some very impressive results.
    How have they done it? Is it soil, climate, when the grapes are harvested, the type of barrels used? As with any wine, it’s a combination of all of these, but perhaps no other grape is as dissected as much as Pinot Noir.

    I asked Jon Priest, senior winemaker for Etude, located in Carneros (where Napa and Sonoma County meet at the southern border of Napa), about this. What is the single most important thing in the production of Pinot Noir? He was firm in his response. ‘Absolutely the site. Pinot Noir expresses the peculiarities of a site (terroir) more than most varieties. The potential for quality and individuality only comes from the place in which the vines are grown.’

    That being the case, let’s examine some of the major growing zones in California from Pinot Noir, from north to south.

    Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
    One of the most famous territories for California Pinot Noir is the Russian River Valley, named for the east-west river that flows into the Pacific. The names of the local producers read like a who’s who in California Pinot Noir: Rochioli; Gary Farrell; Joseph Swan; Dehlinger; Dutton Estate Winery; Dutton Goldfield; Kistler; Merry Edwards; William Selyem and several others.

    As many vineyards are close to the river (and the ocean) fog plays its part here, limiting sunshine hours per day, and ensuring a long growing season that results in expressive aromatics (floral – roses and carnations – as well as intriguing notes of cola) and lively acidity. The best examples combine beautiful structure with subdued spice notes; the best examples also have a sense of minerality.

    Sonoma Coast / Fort Ross-Seaview
    The Sonoma Coast is a large appellation, encompassing much of Sonoma County, inland as well as the coast. Thus it is difficult to define the style of a Pinot Noir labeled with the Sonoma Coast AVA designation, which is why some producers speak of the ‘true Sonoma Coast,’ this being a small area near the towns of Fort Ross and Cazadero. This small area is now a separate appellation known as Fort Ross-Seaview (unofficially known as the ‘Extreme Sonoma Coast’); vineyards here are between 900 and 1100 feet above sea level, and are strongly affected by early morning fog as well as coastal breezes. Pinot Noirs from Fort Ross are deeply colored, intensely flavored and structured for several years of aging.

    Reviews on recommended current releases of California Pinot Noir

    2015 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – Excellent
    (Russian River Valley) – Deep garnet; aromas of morel cherry, cardamom and juniper. Medium-full, this has impressive varietal character, medium-weight tannins, very good acidity and notable persistence. The wood notes are subdued and there are notes of subtle brown spice in the finish. Nice harmony throughout. 5-7 years.

    2015 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir – Superb
    (Fort Ross-Seaview) – Beautiful young garnet; aromas of bing cherry, cardamom and a hint of pepper flakes. Medium-full with very good concentration. Very seductive style of Pinot Noir in which the oak adds a sensual touch. Very good acidity, medium-weight tannins and impressive persistence. Light herbal character in the finish; notes of sandalwood. Best in 5-7 years.”

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  • Chicago Sun-Times

    Russian River Valley wines that will hit all the right notes for Thanksgiving dinner

    Chicago Sun-Timesby W. Peter Hoyne
    November 18, 2018

    “Thanksgiving is quietly approaching, and it is time for a strategic plan. Which relatives should I invite, how do I keep Uncle George and Aunt Edna apart and, of course, who will eat Brussels sprouts?

    After solving these complicated matters, the easiest decision may be the wine.

    You will need a selection that keeps the conversations lively and leaves a lasting impression. It may be wise to have enough wine on hand to appease the unruly relatives and provide a diversion from the cooking.

    For offerings to serve alongside a traditional feast, choose domestic reds and whites of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the cooler reaches of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley in California. This region remains one of the front-runners, and these wine may be the darlings at the dinner table. An herbstuffed turkey or a roasted lamb shank will find a middle ground here. These wines can accentuate the personality of your recipes with their freshness while finding harmony with protein and bountiful flavors.

    2016 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay
    This winery was founded in 1987 by Steve MacRostie, whose tenure in winemaking dates back to 1974. MacRostie had a fascination of cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir before it ever became popular. This Chardonnay is sourced from four or five vineyard sites in the Russian River Valley. The expressive fresh floral aromas open to a medium-bodied, textured wine with white melon and baked pears. Its intense flavors are expansive and linger on the palate.”

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  • Pride Journeys

    The 20 Must-Have Wines for 2018…and 2019

    by Joey Amato
    November 13, 2018

    “With holiday soirees just around the corner, it is important that the right wines are chosen to accompany your meal. While white wines tend to be popular during the summer months, the reds take center stage in the winter. Here are some of our recommendations to try this upcoming holiday season and we even threw in some bubbly for your New Year’s Eve celebration.

    2016 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
    The 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay offers a great intensity of fresh, pure apple and white peach aromas with hints of baker’s yeast and allspice plus a waft of honeysuckle. Medium to full-bodied and delivering mouth-filling stone fruit and spice flavors, it has a satiny texture and great length.”

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  • 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.”