2022 Farm Cottage, Pinot Noir, Trout Gulch Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The latest release from Farm Cottage, the signature Trout Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir is a nicely aromatic beauty and has loads of personality with a ripe and silky core of black cherry, brambly raspberry, strawberry and plum fruits along with a touch of Asian spice, rose petal tea, subtle wood notes, loam and a light herbal stem, edgy element. This vintage feels plush and medium bodied, slightly more polished, making for an extremely pleasing dark fruited, expressive and delicately floral Pinot. Very impressive stuff again from the younger Alfaro. Ryan Alfaro’s Farm Cottage Wines, as mentioned in my prior review, is a great new addition to the local scene in the South Santa Cruz Mountains. Trout Gulch, planted in 1980, gets loads of cool Pacific air and is uniquely set only a few miles from the ocean with an almost Clos effect from the redwood trees lining most of this 16 acre dry-farmed hillside vineyard. Sitting at 750 feet above sea level with well-draining sandy loam soils, the cool climate Trout Gulch Vineyard, with Heritage Wente clone Chardonnay and Mt Eden clone Pinot Noir selections, really is a jewel in hills above Soquel in the Southern part of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the current lineup, Ryan has this wine, along with a Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot from a combination of sites, a Lester Family Pinot, his Chardonnay and his Northern Rhône inspired Syrah, all of which are top notch small batch offerings. This Trout Gulch Pinot Noir was fermented with a natural pied de cuve (vineyard indigenous yeast) and saw 100% whole cluster in an open-top stainless steel tank with gravity rack and returns during the maceration, after which the wine was aged close to 10 months in well used French barriques.

The Alfaro Family Vineyards, founded by Ryan’s Dad Richard back in the early 2000s, in Corralitos is a must visit for those seeking out great values in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as specialties like the winery’s Grüner Veltliner and the new 100% estate Malbec. Ryan worked his dad in the cellar in recent years, after doing a stint with California legend Adam Tolmach at Ojai Vineyards and studying wine in New Zealand. He has brought a lot of new passion to the family business and has, as noted here, put a lot of hard work in to get to this point, with Ryan’s personal project Farm Cottage Wines being a natural extension to these efforts at this small Corralitos estate. The Alfaro’s who have been leasing the Trout Gulch site for many years, finally purchased this vineyard outright a few years ago and this wine is a fantastic way to celebrate that achievement. Ryan, who has now taken over the winemaking duties at the Alfaro estate, does these small lot offerings under his Farm Cottage label with a distinctive style that employs more whole cluster in the winemaking with the Pinots and the Syrah, with native yeasts and mostly neutral barrels, with the results so far being very well received. All of the wines come in at low natural alcohols, due to the close proximity to the Monterey Bay and the cold water influence here, with this 2022 Trout Gulch Pinot seeing just 13.2%, making for wines with sublime tension and balance, but with vivid fruit concentration from the long growing season. The Farm Cottage wines, especially the Pinots, including this seductive Trout Gulch version, already have a serious following and sell out fast, so I highly recommend getting on the mailing list, and also don’t miss the steely Trout Gulch Chardonnay and the cool climate Ryan Spencer Syrah.
($54 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

By admin