Ammon's Horn Wines
Los Carneros AVA
A fascinating Geologist-inspired winery, the recently launched Ammon's Horn Wines offers small-lot, award-winning Pinot Noirs from the prestigious Carneros District of Napa Valley
Rarely do we come across a winery with a story as compelling as the one behind this month's Pinot Noir Wine Club feature, Ammon's Horn Wines. This upstart Pinot Noir producer is located in the cool-climate Los Carneros District (Spanish for 'The Rams') of Napa Valley, an area famous for its luxury Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With annual production right around 1,200 cases, Ammon's Horn is ultra boutique in size and its estate-grown wines are already garnering prestigious medals from top competitions. What really makes this new producer stand out though, are the thoughtful details and meticulous efforts that make this world-class winery truly unique.
It all began with proprietor Linda McGlochlin Wolff who grew up in Carmel Valley, CA. The Carmel River ran through her family's property, and as child, she would spend hours each day on the riverbank looking at and collecting rocks. It is a fascination that has stuck with her her entire life. Linda earned her Geology degree from UC Santa Barbara, and went on to receive her Masters in Hydrology from the University of Arizona in Tuscon. It is
also fitting to note that Tuscon is the home of the largest gem and rock exhibition in the world, an event that always interested Linda, who was especially drawn to the ammonite fossils on display. Ammonites are ancient marine mollusks that went extinct 66 million years ago, at the same time as the dinosaurs.
Linda's husband, Roger Wolff, began (and continues) his career as a California licensed architect with degrees in Architecture and Fine Art from the University of Southern California (USC). His naturally artistic eye has certainly played a role in the instant success of Ammon's Horn Wines.
Linda McGlochlin Wolff was also interested in viticulture, a topic not far off for someone with a background in Geology and Hydrology. In 1998 she purchased a 6 1/2 acre property in the Los Carneros District of Napa Valley with the intent of planting and growing Pinot Noir grapes. The setting may not have appeared ideal - it was an old cow pasture littered with junk at the time - but Linda could see the potential. And she knew the soil was ideal.
Incredibly, neither Linda nor Roger had any agricultural experience before embarking on the Ammon's Horn journey. Even more incredible, was the fact that their Pinot Noir grapes became instantly popular among some of the finest winemakers in the region. Several of the wineries were winning top honors and medals with the Wolff family's fruit. When the couple was left with excess fruit in 2018, they took it as a sign to start their own winery and Ammon's Horn Wines was born.
The winery's name is as fitting as they come. The Ammon's Horn is the namesake for many spirals that occur in nature (such as ammonite fossils), and it is also found in Egyptian and Greek mythology as the 'Ram's Horn.' Los Carneros, where the vineyard is located, is Spanish for 'The Rams.' Even further, Ammon's Horn is also the name given to the anatomical center of the human brain that controls creative energy and memory. Thus, a portion of Ammon's Horn Wines' sales are donated to Alzheimer and Dementia charities (neurological disorders that impair memory and creativity). Linda and Roger hope that people will find Ammon's Horn Wines wonderfully 'memorable' and inspire creativity in their lives.
The winemaker behind Ammon's Horn is Stephane Vivier, a native of Burgundy, France whose Old World sensibilities and worldwide experience make him an ideal fit for Linda and Roger Wolff. His hands-off methods allow the terroir of Ammon's Horn Wines' estate vineyard to shine through in each and every bottle.
Taking a look at the Ammon's Horn label, it's easy to see that the standards for quality are impeccable in every detail of this winery. In fact, in 2021, the winery was the Sweepstakes Winner in Packaging Design at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition, selected for its simplicity, beauty, and strong graphical connection between the brand, growing region, and the founder's profession. We are happy to share this remarkable new winery with our wine club members and hope you find the 2019 Pinot Noir as 'memorable' as we do. Cheers!