2019 Farm Cottage Wines, Pinot Noir, Trout Gulch Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Ryan Alfaro’s Farm Cottage Wines is a great new addition to the local scene in the South Santa Cruz Mountains with his fabulous debut Pinot Noir release from his family’s Trout Gulch Vineyard, a great cool climate site above Aptos, most famous for some outstanding wines, especially the Chardonnays by Arnot-Roberts, Kutch and Ceritas, as well as his dad’s Alfaro Family Vineyards version. This small batch and limited 2019 Trout Gulch Pinot Noir was done with 100% whole cluster, native yeasts and aged in used French oak, it’s a wonderfully expressive stem inclusion wine that delivers tons of excitement in the glass, highlighting the energy and beauty of this vintage and finishes with exceptional length. I love the bright pop of flavors and textural quality of this Trout Gulch Pinot with its layering of black cherry, tart plum, pomegranate and brambly raspberry fruits that are accented by edgy herbs, grilled blood orange, rose tea, briar, a delicate earthiness and very pretty dark florals throughout on the medium bodied palate. I am personally a fan of whole bunches and lightly stemmy wines, knowing that over time this produces heightened aromatics, complexity and depth, and Ryan has judged this to near perfection, allowing for ripe and silken fruit to lead here, this Pinot is especially joyous with food and handled some Corralitos Market (a must visit, old school local treasure) Canjun Sausage and tomato based spicy pasta sauce exceptionally well.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Alfaro Family Vineyards and Ryan’s dad Richard Alfaro, who’s estate in Corralitos is a must for those seeking out great values in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as specialties like the winery’s Gruner Veltliner and the new 100% estate Malbec. Ryan joined 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 passion to the family business and put a lot of hard work in too 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 this year and this wine is a fantastic way to celebrate. Seeing what Bradley Brown of Big Basin Vineyards has done using Alfaro grapes, employing 100% whole cluster, I can state this method works well and produces stunning wines, also, it is worth noting my friends at Windy Oaks also do some whole cluster to great effect in the region. 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, Trout Gulch, with Heritage Wente Chardonnay and Mt Eden Pinot Noir clones really is a jewel, as this vividly ruby Pinot clear demonstrates, get a few while you can!
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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